Elegant Padova -- known in English as Padua -- is home to an ancient university, a Basilica that is an important centre for pilgrims and a chapel containing one of the world’s greatest art treasures. Use this website to help you plan a visit to this fascinating northern Italian city and find your way to the other beautiful towns and villages in the Veneto that are perhaps less well known to tourists.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Palazzo della Ragione dominates centre of Padova

The Palazzo della Ragione dominates
Padova's market squares

In the medieval heart of Padova, the enormous Palazzo della Ragione (palace of reason) separates the two market squares, the Piazza delle Erbe and the Piazza della Frutta.
The palace was built at the beginning of the 13th century to house the court of justice on the upper floor and to provide space for shops under the porticos at ground level.
Inside the building, there is a vast main hall, known locally as il Salone. It is believed to be the largest medieval hall in the world, measuring an impressive 80m (260 ft) long by 27m (90 ft) wide.
The palace was enlarged in 1306 by the addition of external loggias and the building of the current roof, which is in the shape of a ship’s keel. Although the building was damaged by fire in the 15th century and a tornado in the 18th century, it has remained an impressive landmark at the hub of commercial activity in Padova.
The squares on either side of the palace are lined with fascinating shops, bars, restaurants and historic buildings and have been the locations for the city’s food market for more than 800 years.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Sample some Prosecco – the perfect pick-me-up for tired tourists

A Prosecco from

Look out for Prosecco, a refreshing, delicate sparkling white wine sold by the glass in many bars in Padova.
Named after the variety of grape it is made from, Prosecco is lighter and more delicate than Champagne because it is bottled while young rather than being fermented.
It is made in the areas of Valdobbiadene and Conegliano in the Veneto, to the north east of Padova.
It was probably named after the town of Prosecco near Trieste where the grape, one of Italy’s oldest, is believed to have originated.
Italy produces 150 million bottles of Prosecco a year, mostly from the area around Valdobbiadene.
Fortunately for the rest of the world, Prosecco travels well and is reasonably priced when put on sale. It is best drunk young.
When on holiday in Italy, Prosecco is the ideal aperitivo to enjoy before lunch and dinner and is a refreshing drink to order in a bar when you are having a break from sight seeing. Salute!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Ristorante Zairo recalls history of Prato della Valle

Dine out in style while you are in Padova at Ristorante Pizzeria Zairo in Prato della Valle.

A bas relief of chariot races at Zairo
The elegant restaurant is decorated with chandeliers, statues and frescoes, echoing the grandeur of the square where it is situated.

When Zairo was renovated in 1988, the original architecture of an earlier church on the site was uncovered and this has been skilfully incorporated into the design of the restaurant along with a 17th century fresco that has been preserved.

The restaurant’s statues and wall decorations recall the Roman activities that would once have taken place within the elliptical space of Prato della Valle, such as chariot races and theatre entertainment.

Zairo’s menu offers a wide choice of meat and fish dishes, some typical of the Veneto and some specialities from Puglia . There is also an extensive pizza list. For more details visit www.zairo.net

The restaurant is at number 51 Prato della Valle, close to the Basilica of Santa Giustina.
Zairo is open from 12.00 to 14.30 and from 19.00 to 01.00. It is closed on Mondays.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Scrovegni Chapel houses one of world’s greatest masterpieces

Stunning colours characterise
the chapel's frescoes
Padova’s reputation as a city of art is well and truly endorsed by Giotto’s amazing frescoes in la Cappella degli Scrovegni (the Scrovegni Chapel).
The frescoes are the only example of Giotto’s work in Padova, but are considered to be one of the greatest works of art in the world.
Dedicated to Santa Maria della Carita (Saint Mary of the Charity), the chapel was decorated with frescoes by Giotto between 1303 and 1305. He was commissioned to paint the frescoes by Enrico degli Scrovegni, who was hoping to atone for the sins of usury committed by himself and his dead father.
The frescoes narrate events in the lives of the Virgin Mary and Christ and the stunning scenes cover the side walls of the chapel. On the wall opposite the altar is Giotto’s magnificent Universal Judgment, which tells the story of human salvation and includes the figure of Enrico degli Scrovegni offering up a model of the chapel to the Virgin Mary in a desperate bid to save his father from hell.
Under a bright blue sky, the realistic figures with their powerful facial expressions and colourful clothes tell the compelling bible stories in a way that they had never been told before. The frescoes are universally acknowledged as a major artistic development, marking the beginning of modern art in Europe and the break with the Byzantine tradition.
Giotto was born in 1267 in Florence , where he learnt to paint with a sense of space, naturalism and drama. His revolutionary style was followed by many other painters in Padova later in the 14th century.
It is a miracle that these beautiful, colourful frescoes have survived as well as they have for the last 700 years.
The chapel was acquired by the city of Padova in 1880 and several specialised restoration operations have been carried out on them. Since the 1970s, the state of the building, the quality of air, polluting factors and the conservation of the frescoes themselves, have all been the subject of careful study.
The chapel can be accessed from Giardini dell’Arena off Piazza Eremitani, which is a short walk from the railway station along Corso del Popolo.
There is a special access building where visitors can wait and watch a video to prepare them for seeing the frescoes. The visits are carefully organised so that people can continue to enter the chapel and look at the frescoes without further jeopardising their condition.
Tickets for the Scrovegni Chapel should be booked in advance and collected one hour before the scheduled time for the visit.
For more information visit www.cappelladegliscrovegni.it


Thursday, May 10, 2012

Visit the Basilica of Padova’s much loved 'Santo'

The fa├žade of the Basilica
The enormous Basilica di Sant’Antonio di Padova, or Basilica del Santo as it is known to local people, is one of the most important places of Christian worship in the world.
An estimated five million pilgrims visit the Basilica every year in order to file past and touch the tomb of their beloved Sant’Antonio, a Franciscan monk who became famous for his miracles.
The magnificent church in Piazza del Santo is an architectural masterpiece created between the 13th and 14th centuries, but it was later enriched with works of art by masters such as Titian, Tiepolo and the sculptor Donatello.
Saint Anthony’s Basilica is an imposing sight in the skyline even when you are some distance away as it has seven domes around a cupola, two campanili and tapering spires like the minarets of a mosque.
Inside, the church is in the plan of a Latin cross with a nave and aisles in the gothic tradition. The saint’s body lies in a marble tomb in the area known as the Chapel of the Tomb in the left transept.
The walls around the tomb are decorated with large 16th century marble reliefs that depict scenes from Saint Anthony’s life. But these are rather overshadowed by the impressive number  of offerings and photographs on display from people wishing to give thanks for the intervention of Sant'Antonio after surviving car crashes or serious illnesses. 
In a separate chapel, visitors can see relics of Saint Anthony and other important objects, such as a tunic believed to have been worn by the saint.
Also within the complex of the Basilica are four cloisters, il Museo Antoniano (Antoniana Museum), the Oratorio di San Giorgio (Oratory of Saint George) and the Scuola del Santo (School of the Saint).

How to reach la Basilica di Sant’Antonio

From the railway station in Piazzale Stazione take the tram and get off at the stop called simply, Santo.
Buses also run between the station and the Basilica.
On foot, walk down Corso del Popolo, Corso Garibaldi, Via Eremitani, Via Zabarella and Via del Santo.
Opening times: The Basilica is open from 06.20 to 19.00 in the winter and 06.20 to 19.45 in the summer. Admission is free.

Receive a warm welcome at Turismo Padova

The Caffe Pedrocchi
There is an excellent tourist information office in the centre of Padova, handily located in Galleria Pedrocchi close to the elegant Caffe Pedrocchi and the fascinating Piazza della Frutta.
There you will be able to ask for help and advice, obtain free maps and leaflets about the main things to see in Padova and request restaurant recommendations.
The Turismo Padova Terme Euganee office also provide information about the spa towns in the Euganean Hills and the medieval walled towns, villas and castles worth visiting throughout the province.
You can buy a PadovaCard to use during your stay which will give you free use of buses and trams, free parking and free or discounted entry to a wide range of sights of historical and artistic interest. A PadovaCard valid for 48 hours costs €16 and one valid for 72 hours costs €21.
The Turismo Padova office in Galleria Pedrocchi is open Monday to Saturday from 9.00 to 13.30 and from 15.00 to 19.00. Or for more information visit www.turismopadova.it.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Prato della Valle is an oasis in the centre of Padova

Statues line the canal around Prato della Valle
Padova’s unusual main piazza, Prato della Valle, is believed to be the largest public square in Italy and has become an elegant symbol of the city.

The elliptical shape of the prato (field) is a reminder of the large Roman theatre that once occupied the site.

Sant’Antonio used to preach sermons to huge crowds gathered there but the area later fell into disuse and became flooded and neglected.

The land was drained in the 18th century and a canal crossed by four bridges was created around an island planted with trees and lawns, which was later lined by statues of 78 eminent citizens of Padova.

Market stalls in the piazza
Prato della Valle is surrounded by old palaces, restaurants and bars and has often been the site for fairs and amusements in Padova, as well as regular markets.

It has become the terminus for the tram service that runs through Padova and nowadays provides a green space where local people can enjoy la passeggiata and meeting up with each other.