Padova or Padua (Latin: Patavium, , German Padua (historically: Esten)) is a city and Province in the Veneto Region of northern Italy. It is the capital of the province of Padua and the economic and communications hub of the area. Padua's population is just over 214,000. The city is sometimes included, with Venice and Treviso, in the Padua-Treviso-Venice Metropolitan Area, having a population of around 1,600,000.
Padua sits on the Bacchiglione River, west of Venice and southeast of Vicenza. The Brenta River, which once ran through the city, still touches the northern districts. Its agricultural setting is the Venetian Plain (Pianura Veneta). To the city's south west lies the Euganaean Hills, praised by writers like Lucan and Martial, Petrarch, Ugo Foscolo, and Shelley. It hosts the renowned University of Padua, almost 800 years old and famous, among other things, for having had Galileo Galilei among its lecturers.
The city is picturesque, with a dense network of arcaded streets opening into large communal piazze, and many bridges crossing the various branches of the Bacchiglione, which once surrounded the ancient walls like a moat. Padua is the setting for most of the action in Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew.
Padua claims to be the oldest city in northern Italy. According to a tradition dated at least to Virgil's Aeneid, and rediscovered by the medieval commune, it was founded in 1183 BC by the Trojan prince Antenor, who was supposed to have led the people of Eneti or Veneti from Paphlagonia to Italy. The city exhumed a large stone sarcophagus in the year 1274 and declared these to represent Antenor's relics.
Patavium, as Padua was known by the Romans, was inhabited by (Adriatic) Veneti. They were reputed for their excellent breed of horses and the wool of their sheep. Its men fought for the Romans at Cannae. The city was a Roman municipium since 45 BC (or 43). It became so powerful that it was reportedly able to raise two hundred thousand fighting men. At that time the population of the city could be up to 40,000.
Abano, which is nearby, is the birthplace of the reputed historian Livy. Padua was also the birthplace of Valerius Flaccus, Asconius Pedianus and Thrasea Paetus. The area is said to have been Christianized by Saint Prosdocimus. He is venerated as the first bishop of the city.
GETTING TO THE CITY OF PADOVA, ITALY
By Car: The A-4 autostrade runs right by the city exit and enter the city. There are multiple parking lots within the city to leave your car.
By Train: The main Milano to Venice line stops in Padova, the station is also the point where many trains turn south for Bologna and Florence. If you use a Eurostar train Padova is a nice day trip from Bologna, Milano, and Florence. Local and Regional trains make it an easy day trip from Venice, Vicenza, Ferrara, and Verona.
By Bicycle: A city bike works great to get around the city. Most sites are far enough apart that you either need to use the bus system, have a good pair of walking shoes or ride a bike. The city is making designated bike paths but the entire system is not completely interlinked. If you are planning on bike touring in the area I do not recommend riding through the city to visit along your route. This is a place to take the day to see, so as a start point, rest day activity or end on your route it works great, otherwise ride around.
THINGS TO SEE IN PADOVA:
- Saint Anthony's cathedral (Basilica di Sant'Antonio), Piazza del Santo, (limited traffic area,parking in Prato della Valle+free shuttle bus line n° 3-8-11-12-13-16-18-22-32-43-Minibus Piazze-A-M-T and tramway line 1 stop "Basilica del Santo"-"Santa Giustina"-"Prato della Valle"), +39 0498789722
- The Oratorio de San Giorgio on the south side of the piazza next to the Basilica di Sant'Antonio is a beautiful, frescoed hall, and generally empty. The paintings were done by two of Giotto's students, and though they are not as magnificent as those in the Capella degli Scrovegni, you can sit down and gaze at them undisturbed for as long as you like. Admission €2.50.
- Scrovegni's Chapel (Cappella degli Scrovegni), Corso Garibaldi, (parking near bus station, bus lines n° 3-8-9-10- (stop "Corso Garibaldi") 7-9-4-15 (stop "Piazzale Boschetti")), +39 0492010020 (www.cappelladegliscrovegni.it). Every day, 9.00-19.00. €12 full price, €5 student price (including Eremitani Civic Museum and Contemporary Art Museum). The Chapel is in the north of the city center, not far from the bus and train stations.
- Prato della Valle is the biggest square in Europe and probably one of the most beautiful in the World. Historically a Roman theater and later a fairground, it was redone in 1775 to the present layout: a large central grassy area, surrounded by a statue-lined canal, then a broad expanse of flagstones before a couple lanes of traffic are allowed to trickle around it in the distance. Saturdays the square hosts a giant market.
- Santa Giustina Basilica Prato della Valle and Saint Giustina Basilica is along one side of Prato della Valle. When you visit, don't miss the Martyr's Hallway off of the right-front corner of the basilica.
- Roman ruins, including an Arena. The Arena is smaller and less impressive than those in Verona or Rome, but well-located in a lovely and well-maintained park. About three quarters of the Arena walls remain; the rest were removed to make way for the Scrovegni Chapel and Scrovegni Palace (the latter now long gone). In summertime, open-air movies are shown in the Arena.
- The Duomo, or cathedral, is smaller than the two basilicas but not by much - don't be misled by the relatively small façade on Piazza del Duomo. Michaelangelo was involved in the cathedral's design. Note: The cathedral closes during lunch, with no visible hours posted beside the doors. If they're closed, try again later.
- Jewish Ghetto, it's located between "Piazza della Frutta", the "Duomo" and "via Roma"
- Palazzo del Bo' is the main university building. Padova's university is the second oldest in Italy (founded 1222).
- Botanic Garden - the first Botanic Garden in the World, operated by the University of Padova, and on the UNESCO World Heritage list since 1997. Admission ranges from free (for some university students) to to €1 (for other university students) to €4-5 for everyone else.
EATING IN PADOVA
- Pizzeria Medina - Via S.G. Barbarigo 18, midday and evenings, closed Tuesday) is just down the street from the Duomo (cathedral). They offer great-tasting pizzas that are enormous even by Italian standards. Quality is high, prices are low (pizza and wine 10-15 EUR), and the atmosphere is great.
- Pago Pago (Via Galileo Galilei 59) is near the Basilica - one block over and around the corner. They have the usual range of pastas, meat/fish dishes, pizzas, etc.
- Cucina Chef Chadi (Via S. Francesco 214, closed 2-4.30PM and after 8PM) is right behind the basilica: keep the building to your right and walk until the corner at the end of the street.
- Ai Talli (Via Boccalerie 5) is on a side street off of Piazza della Frutta, or has tables on the corner of the Piazza when the weather is nice. They specialize in Calabrian dishes - from the southern tip of Italy - and use only authentic ingredients.
- Oktoberfest, Via del Santo 80 (100m from Basillica di Sant' Antonio).
- La Lanterna, Piazza dei Signori 39, 12:00-14:30, 18:00-24:00. Pizza is baked on wooden kiln.
- Birrolandia, Via Nazareth 11 (Near hospital (500 mt) and close to Croce Verde), 12:00 - 15:00, 19:00 - 02:00. Probably the best Pub in Padua,.
- Il Re del Kebab, Via Belzoni 127 (Near to Porta Portello), ☎ 049774447, 12:00 - 15:30, 18:00 - 23:30. Very good and cheap kebab and pizzas.
- Ristorante la Finestra, Via Dei Tadi 15, ☎ 049650313. 19.30-22.30. The Restaurant is in one most beautiful streets of the centre, a few steps from the Duomo.
- Mama Isa's Supper Club,,. In the center of Padova there is a small and secret Underground Dinner.
- For a light lunch, stop into any cafe for tramezzini - small sandwiches that come with a variety of fillings, and are usually cheap.
WHERE TO STAY
- B&B Hotel Padova URL: http://www.hotelbb.it/it/hotel-padova/hotel. Via del Pescarotto 39 - 35131 Padova - Tel.: +39 049 7800233 - B&B Hotel Padova - Free WiFi, Free Pay-TV, with private bathroom
- NH Mantegna, Via Tommaseo, 61, ☎ +39 049 8494 111, 4 star hotel in the centre. Rooms from €78.