Only a 30 minute train ride from Venice, Padova is a pleasant day trip and often overlooked in favor of her well-known neighbor. Arriving by train, you can easily walk from the station to several of Padova’s sites and catch your train back to Venice in time for an aperitivo.
Padova has much to boast about. Despite her deep ancestral roots and heritage, there is a contemporary and youthful vibe. This can be attributed partly to being home to the distinguished Universita degli Studi di Padova, established in 1222. As Italy’s second oldest university, the University of Padova’s faculty and alumni have included such notables as Copernicus, Galileo, and even Casanova. (Now, wouldn’t you have loved to have attended one of his lectures?)
Enjoying an espresso break, people watching, and, of course, window shopping is irresistible and enjoyable… especially since most of the sidewalks are sheltered under shady loggias and many streets are pedestrian-only.
If you love local markets (I do!) you won’t want to miss visiting Padova’s. The twin piazze of Piazza delle Erbe and Piazza della Frutta are where the freshest and finest seasonal produce of the region is offered daily – yes, daily! Strolling up and down aisle after aisle, greeted by friendly vendors proudly displaying row upon row of neatly arranged fruits, vegetables and locally produced “tipico” foodstuffs, you’re tempted to feel and squeeze, but “non tocare” (don’t touch) is the rule here.
Locals navigate their bounty-laden bicycles… bags filled with produce and delicacies from the tempting bakeries, and cheese and meat shops lining the piazze. (Don’t forget to pick up a few local specialties to enjoy later.)
A short walk will bring you to the magnificent Prato della Valle. Reputed to be the largest piazza in Italy and one of the largest in Europe, it is elliptical in shape with over 70 statues surrounding its circumference. Crossing over the moat-like canal to L’Isola Memmia, leads to a lovely park and fountain. A perfect spot for a stroll, a picnic or maybe a nap?
This day trip ends nearby with a visit to the splendid Basilica Pontificia di Sant’Antonio, long a destination for pilgrims and devotees from all over the world. Grateful for the strict requests to observe silence and no photos, the Basilica is serene, calm… peaceful, a welcome sanctuary. A perfect ending to a perfect day in Padova, don’t you agree?