Padua, Italy. Or Padova in Italian. Another beautiful Italian city that claims to be the oldest in northern Italy. According to the University of Padua (Padova) website, it was founded in 1183 BC by a Trojan prince. The university itself was established in 1222 AC. I won’t bore you with all the details here, but if you have a few minutes, the history of the city is actually pretty interesting. Of course, I think most of you are here for pictures of the city and not the history lesson. So I’ll move on.
Padua is about a 30-minute drive from Vicenza and about a 40-minute drive from Venice depending on traffic. I think the whole trip with gas, parking and tolls cost me under 20 Euro. How’s that for a trip to a historic Italian city? Sorry JennyVy. I know yours and Tim’s trip was a bit more.
When I arrived in Padua, I drove around in circles while WazeApp and Google maps competed for my attention. Google won after WazeApp sent me down a couple narrow dead-end cobblestone roads. The WazeApp tour of the city was nice until I was awkwardly backing up while very patient (sarcasm) Italian’s waited. They must love tourists as much as I did when I lived in Newport Beach.
I finally parked near the Prato della Valle, which is the largest square in Italy and one of the largest in Europe. I didn’t realize Saturday was a huge outdoor market day until I was crossing the street into the scene below. This square is the perfect place to set up shop to sell everything, and that is what they were selling. Everything. It’s like the worlds largest outdoor mall with a Target and Home Depot thrown in for good measure.
After my tour of the square, I went into the Abbey of Santa Giustina. It’s the large church you can see in the Prato della Valle pictures above. It’s a very humble structure from the outside but very impressive on the inside. Italy never ceases to amaze me with its churches, chapels, and basilicas.
One of the biggest landmarks in Padua is the botanical garden. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage site because it’s the world’s first botanical garden, built in 1545. But, I didn’t go because I didn’t think anything would be alive or blooming yet. I went to the Sanssouci Palace in Potsdam, Germany this time last year and the beautiful garden was only brown vines. I assumed the same of Padua’s botanical garden so I passed. If I make it back over later this Spring, I’ll be sure to include it in a future post. But honestly, I don’t think I’d make a return trip anywhere to see a garden. Sorry, mom. The info about the botanical garden is just for anyone that may plan a summer trip to Padua.
Pretty close to the Prato della Valle square is the Basilica of St. Anthony. As you can see, it’s pretty impressive just walking up the street. I’m not much of an organized religion person, but I’d highly a recommend visiting this Basilica to anyone planning a trip to the Veneto region. The sculptures and paintings throughout were stunning. Yes, I said stunning. And I don’t say that often. And of course, you cannot take pictures inside (even though many people were). So you’ll have to take my word for it or visit the link above.
Another major attraction in Padua is the Scrovegni Chapel, with its world famous paintings. It was sold out when I arrived, as it is most weekends. If you plan on visiting the chapel, make sure you go online and reserve your tickets well in advance. I may have to go back now that I’ve seen the chapel paintings online. I never thought I’d say it, but the frescos, paintings, sculptures and even ceiling ornamentation in the historic Trento, Verona, and Padua buildings have blown me away. I never thought I’d actually stop and stare at a ceiling for minutes on end.
After discovering I couldn’t take the chapel tour, I continued to explore the town for a while. I eventually stumbled upon the Ragione Palace and Piazza delle Erbe. The piazza is a large farmers market on Saturday (and maybe every day). It’s also nicely situated next to the palace, making for a very Italian scene. As you can see, it was a nice day and the café’s were filled with many people. Springtime in Italy (and Europe).
I decided to head home after the Ragione Palace and Piazza delle Erbe. I had walked around for about four hours and my fun meter was pegged. Since Padua is so close, I’ll likely make it back for another visit. It’s an amazing city, just like Verona and Trento and countless others. Now that it’s getting warmer, I’ll likely make my way over to Venice soon.
Thanks for reading. Please comment and let me know what you think of Padua. I’ll end this post with a video from Prato della Valle. Not a bad scene on a Saturday afternoon.
P.S. – For those wondering what happened to my “American Road Trip” posts, I’ll get back to those soon. I kind of got lost in work and exploring Italy.