When I think about Padua the things that come to my mind are all its marvelous art masterpieces. You breathe art walking in the city’s streets. You may say, like every city in Italy, and you’d be right, but in Padua there are some places so ancient that are the first of their kind, or so unique you won’t find anything similar anywhere else.
The truth is I’ve been surprised by this town. First when I’ve found out its dimension, I really thought it was way bigger than other cities I’ve been, but it’s not. Second when I’ve found out it’s a very nice town. Years and years ago, when I had to choose my university, I didn’t even thought about going to Padua, as Verona was the only choice for me, because at first impact, one captured my heart, the other one left me with a sense of dirt, unsafe and dislike I didn’t even consider it for a second. But years later, I went back to Padua and it surprisingly chanced my mind. I now think that I definitely have to go back again to discover all the places I still miss. For now, let me tell you how to get the most out of a day in Padua.
If you click here you’ll find my Padua’s city guide: it includes pretty much all the things, maybe too many, you can enjoy in a day in the city. Let’s talk about them a little bit more specifically.
For sure, the first thing I suggest you, (don’t miss it, it will be a mistake you’ll regret forever, trust me) is to book in advance your visit to Cappella degli Scrovegni. It is an unique place, a chamber all painted by Giotto (a really famous Italian painter and architect, if you don’t know him, do some research and you’ll see all his beautiful works). The chamber is nowadays so delicate that before entering you need to spend some time in a room that takes away all the humidity and the dirt from you, and the access has to be controlled, that’s why you need to book and you may not find a tour easily.
During summer they let visitors in also at night, a very cool initiative that will give your visit some kind of magic. There are no words in this world to describe Cappella degli Scrovegni and its beauty, just imagine a whole chamber painted from its walls to a ceiling of golden stars. Be sure not to miss it.
Padua is very known for its antique university, one of the most ancient of Italy, and the oldest of Veneto, founded in 1222 and still considered among the best public university in Italy. At Palazzo Bo, Galileo Galilei taught and its still possible to see the old desk where he discussed its classes. In the building there is also the Anatomic Theater, the oldest in Italy, still preserving all its charm.
Right in front of Palazzo Bo there is the famous Cafè Pedrocchi, stop there and grab a coffee only to take a look inside this fascinating, historical gathering place. Prato della Valle, the largest square of the city and one of Italy’s biggest, has its own peculiar shape. It looks like a little island symmetrically surrounded by a water channel and decorated with lots of statues. Enclosed by beautiful palaces and buildings the feeling here is to be thrown into open air, as suddenly you’ll go from the narrow streets of the city in this huge open space.
The last thing that I truly suggest you absolutely not to miss is a visit at Saint Antony’s Cathedral and the near Botanic Garden. The first one is a very big Christian complex, seat of the remains of St. Antony and for this reason a well known pilgrimage destination. The second one is the oldest Botanic Garden in Italy and is like an oasis in the city. Plants and flowers from all over the world, including some really really old one like Goethe’s Palm, there since 1585!
Last but not least, if you still have some time, be sure to visit Palazzo della Ragione. Why? Because its upper floor is one large huge pensile room (unsupported by columns), the largest in the world. Stepping in it will leave you in wonder, speechless and feeling a small ant in this big big world.
That’s it for my Padua in a day tour. Have you already been? Do you have other suggestions? Let me know your favorite places, I’ll be checking them on my next visit!