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.

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.

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