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.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Forgotten composer Giacomo Facco was born near Padova

Giacomo Facco, a baroque composer, was born near Padova
The composer Giacomo Facco
was born near Padova
Baroque composer Giacomo Facco, whose work has been forgotten about for centuries, was born on February 4, 1676 in Marsango, just north of Padova.

He was highly regarded during his own lifetime, but his compositions were forgotten until 1962, when they were rediscovered by a musicologist, Uberto Zanolli.

Facco is believed to have worked as a violinist and a conductor early in his career and is known to have been given a job in 1705 by the Viceroy of Sicily as a choirmaster, teacher and violinist in Palermo .

In 1708 he moved with the Viceroy to Messina where he composed The Fight between Mercy and Incredulity. In 1710 he presented a work dedicated to King Philip V of Spain , The Augury of Victories, in Messina Cathedral.

By 1720 it is known Facco was working in the Spanish court because his pay is mentioned in a report dating from that year. He is later named as clavichord master to the Spanish princes.
At the height of his success he was commissioned to compose an opera to celebrate the marriage of one of the princes in 1721.

But he then seems to have fallen out of favour and was just employed as a violinist in the orchestra of the Royal Chapel until his death in Madrid in 1753.

The composer had earlier written 12 violin concertos under the title Pensieri Adriarmonici. Bright and buoyant, they are reminiscent of the music composed by his contemporary, Vivaldi.

These concertos were discovered in a library in Mexico City by Uberto Zanolli in 1962 along with Facco’s birth certificate, showing he was born near Padova.  Since his remarkable discovery, Zanolli has put together a biography of Facco and a list of his known works.
The walled city of Castelfranco Veneto, close to where Giacomo Facco was born
The walled city of Castelfranco Veneto

Some of Facco’s solo cantatas, written using his own poetry, were presented at a concert in Mexico City in 1962, conducted by Zanolli.

But it is thought other music Facco wrote in Spain may have been destroyed in a fire in Madrid in 1734.

Facco was born and spent his early years in the hamlet of Marsango in the commune of Campo San Martino about 15 kilometres north of Padua in the beautiful countryside of the Veneto . Marsango lies between the cities of Treviso and Vicenza , with the walled city of Castelfranco Veneto just to the north.


Via VIII Febbraio Padova

An uprising against the Austrian occupying forces, when students and ordinary citizens fought side by side, took place in Padova on 8 February in 1848.
A street in the centre of the city is now named Via VIII Febbraio to commemorate the revolt against the Austrian soldiers, when both the University of Padova and Caffè Pedrocchi briefly became battlegrounds.
Shots were fired inside Caffè Pedrocchi

The Padova rebellion was one of a series of revolutions in Italy during 1848, which had started with the Sicilian uprising in January.
The Austrians were seen as arrogant and aggressive by ordinary citizens and the ideas of Mazzini and Cavour about a united Italy were becoming popular with progressive thinkers.
Students and professors had been meeting in rooms at the University and in Caffè Pedrocchi to discuss their discontent.
The uprising began with the storming of a prison and prisoners being set free. Then many ordinary citizens came to fight alongside the students against the armed Austrians, who clubbed the Padovans with their guns as well as firing at them.
You can still see a hole in the wall of the White Room inside Caffè Pedrocchi made by a bullet fired by an Austro-Hungarian soldier at the students.
Padovan students and citizens and some Austrian soldiers were killed and wounded in the fighting. Many people were arrested by the soldiers and in a crackdown later, some students and professors were expelled from the university.
The revolt was short lived and there was no other rebellion against the Austrians in Padova. But the 8 February uprising was thought to have encouraged Charles Albert of Savoy, King of Sardinia-Piedmont, to later declare war on Austria.
A courtyard inside the university

In 1866 Italy finally expelled the Austrians from the Veneto and Padova became annexed to the Kingdom of Italy .
Caffè Pedrocchi has been a meeting place for business people, students, intellectuals and writers for nearly 200 years. Founded by coffee maker Antonio Pedrocchi in 1831, the café was designed in neoclassical style and each side is edged with Corinthian columns.
It quickly became a centre for the Risorgimento movement and was popular with students and artists because of its location close to Palazzo del Bò, the main university building. It became known as ‘the café without doors’, as it was open day and night for people to sit and read, play cards or debate.
Caffè Pedrocchi is now a Padova institution and a 'must see' sight for visitors. You can enjoy coffee, drinks and snacks all day in the elegant surroundings.
The University of Padova was established in 1222 and is one of the oldest in the world, second in Italy only to the University of Bologna. The main university building, Palazzo del Bò in Via VIII Febbraio in the centre of Padua, used to house the medical faculty. You can take a guided tour to see the pulpit used by Galileo when he taught at the university between 1592 and 1610.

Padova's link with St Lawrence of Brindisi

St Lawrence of Brindisi studied at the University of Padova
St Lawrence of Brindisi studied at
the University of Padova
St Lawrence of Brindisi, who was born Giulio Cesare Russo on July 22, 1559 in Brindisi, has strong connections with Padova, having studied at the city's ancient University.

Lawrence was born into a family of Venetian merchants and was sent to Venice to be educated.  He joined the Capuchin order in Verona when he was 16, taking the name Brother Lawrence.

He became a Roman Catholic priest and received tuition in theology, philosophy and foreign languages from the University of Padova. He progressed to be able to speak many European and Semitic languages fluently.

Pope Clement VIII gave Lawrence the task of converting Jews living in Rome to Catholicism because of his excellent command of Hebrew. Lawrence also established Capuchin monasteries in Germany and Austria and brought many Protestants back to Catholicism.

He was made St Lawrence in 1881, remembered for his bravery while serving as the imperial chaplain to the Holy Roman Emperor, Rudolph II.

The statue of St Lawrence at the Convent of Capuchin Friars in Rovigo
The statue of St Lawrence at the Convent of
Capuchin Friars in Rovigo
He led an army against the Ottoman Turks threatening to conquer Hungary armed only with a crucifix and many people attributed the subsequent victory to his leadership.

Lawrence was beatified in 1783 by Pope Pius VI and canonised in 1881 by Pope Leo XIII. He was declared a doctor of the Church by Pope John XXIII in 1959.

The annual feast day of St Lawrence took place yesterday, on 21 July.

There is a statue of St Lawrence bearing a crucifix at the Convento Frati Cappuccini at Rovigo, some 50km south of Padova.

The University of Padova was established in 1222 and is one of the oldest in the world, second in Italy only to the University of Bologna.

The main university building, Palazzo del Bò in Via VIII Febbraio in the centre of the city, used to house the medical faculty. You can take a guided tour to see the pulpit used by Galileo when he taught at the university between 1592 and 1610.


Death of artist Andrea Mantegna

The painter Andrea Mantegna, who made a major contribution to Padova’s rich art collection, died on September 13, 1506.

Mantegna was one of a large group of painters entrusted with decorating the Ovetari Chapel in the Church of the Eremitani in Padova.

Part of Mantegna's cycle depicting the Martyrdom
 of San Giacomo. Now partially restored, it
can again be seen in the Ovetari Chapel.
Much of his work was damaged when the Allied forces bombed Padova in 1944, but his paintings of The Assumption and the Martrydom of Saint Christopher survived and others have been painstakingly restored.

Other early work by Mantegna can be seen in the Basilica of Sant’Antonio and in the Church of Santa Giustina in Padova.

Mantegna was born at Isola di Cartura near Padova in about 1431, a village just outside Piazzola sul Brenta, which has now been renamed Isola Mantegna. 

He was apprenticed by the age of 11 to the painter Francesco Squarcione in Padua, who had a fascination for ancient art and encouraged him to study fragments of Roman sculptures.

After eventually parting company with Squarcione, the artist came under the influence of Jacopo Bellini, the father of Giovanni and Gentile Bellini, and in 1453 he married Jacopo’s daughter, Nicolosia.

By 1459 he had moved on to Verona, where he painted a grand altarpiece for the Church of San Zeno.

The following year he was appointed court artist by the Marquis Ludovico III Gonzaga of Mantua. His frescoes for the Bridal Chamber (Camera degli Sposi) at the Palazzo Ducale in Mantua were to influence many artists who followed him because of his innovative use of perspective.

They are considered among his best works and depict the life of Ludovico Gonzaga and his family.The beautiful backgrounds of imaginary cities and ruins reflect Mantegna’s love of classical architecture. 

He introduced spatial illusion with his painting of the ceiling, which although flat appears concave. This technique was followed by other artists for centuries.

Mantegna was also to become famous for his religious paintings, such as St Sebastian, which is now in the Louvre in Paris, and The Agony in the Garden, which is now in the National Gallery in London. 

The artist painted nine pictures of the Triumphs of Caesar, drawing on his classical knowledge, which are also considered by experts to be among his finest works. These were sold in 1628 to King Charles I of England and are now in Hampton Court Palace.

After his death at about the age of 75, Mantegna’s sons set up a monument to him in the Church of Sant’Andrea in Mantua.

The 15th century Basilica of Sant’Andrea is in Piazza Mantegna. The artist’s tomb is in the first chapel on the left, where there is a painting of the Holy Family and John the Baptist by Mantegna.

The church was originally built to accommodate the large number of pilgrims who came to Mantua to see a precious relic, an ampoule containing what were believed to be drops of Christ’s blood mixed with earth. This was claimed to have been collected at the site of his crucifixion by a Roman soldier.

La Lanterna Pizzeria Ristorante Padova

Enjoy a taste of the Mediterranean at long-established Padua restaurant 

In a good position in Piazza dei Signori in the centre of Padua, La Lanterna Pizzeria Ristorante has been serving up delicious, Mediterranean-inspired dishes for more than fifty years.
La Lanterna in Piazza dei Signori

The many speciality dishes on the menu are influenced by the origins of the owner, Signor Antonio Ruggiero, who comes from Salerno in Campania.

The atmosphere of the restaurant is very welcoming and the staff are friendly and always delighted to describe the ingredients used in the many tempting dishes on offer.

The menu has a wide range of antipasti, a good selection of pasta dishes, traditional fish dishes, such as branzino and orata, and classic meat dishes, such as filetto al pepe verde (fillet steak in a green pepper sauce) and scaloppine al marsala (veal marsala).

The pizza oven serves up all the classics, as well as some adventurous concoctions, on bases made in the traditional style of the city where the pizza was born, Naples.

There is a good choice of reasonably-priced wines as well as a selection of spirits and soft drinks.

Speciality dishes include scampi alla griglia, pacheri allo scoglio (tube-shaped pasta with sea food) and pizza mediterraneo.
Tagliatelle alla Lanterna 

The Best of Padua editor says: ‘My favourite pasta dish is Tagliatelle alla Lanterna, which is tagliatelle served with prawns in a delicious, creamy, tomato sauce, and I particularly enjoyed the local white wine I had ordered to go with it.’

La Lanterna Pizzeria Ristorante is on the right side of Piazza dei Signori as you look towards Palazzo del Capitano, with its elegant Torre dell’Orologio, a tower that houses clockworks that are believed to be the oldest still in existence in Italy.

La Lanterna is just a short walk away from Piazza dei Frutti and Piazza delle Erbe and is also close to the Duomo.

For more information about the restaurant, visit www.lalanternapadova.it.

La Lanterna is open from 12.00 to 15.00 and from 18.00 to 24.00 and is closed on Thursdays. 


Duomo di Padova

Don’t overlook the importance of the Duomo

While many visitors to Padua flock to see the Basilica di Sant’Antonio, dedicated to the city’s patron saint, and the Scrovegni Chapel, with its remarkable frescoes by Giotto, it is easy to overlook the outwardly plain-looking Duomo.

But Padua’s Cathedral in Piazza del Duomo dates back to the 16th century when a competition was held for architects to design a building that could compete with the Basilica of Sant’Antonio and the Basilica of Santa Giustina.
Padua's 16th century Duomo.

Among the architects who entered were Jacopo Sansovino, Michelangelo and Andrea da Valle
It is thought that Michelangelo’s designs won the competition but that the building work was entrusted to Andrea da Valle to oversee. However, over the centuries many other architects also contributed to the work.

The Basilica Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta, referred to in Padova as the Duomo, was finally consecrated in 1754 with its façade left unfinished.

The nave is flanked by an aisle on each side and there are four chapels in the right aisle and five in the left with two great cupolas over the nave.

The Canons’ Sacristry to the left of the Presbytery houses a small, but very interesting art gallery.

The Presbytery contains two magnificently preserved organs by Gaetano Callida and down a flight of steps, the crypt holds the remains of Saint Daniel.

The present Duomo is the third structure to have been built on the site. The first was erected in 313 and destroyed by an earthquake in the 12th century. The church was rebuilt in Romanesque style and visitors to the Baptistery next door can see how it would have looked in the 14th century, as it appears in the frescoes executed at that time by Giusto dè Menaboui.

The north door of the current Duomo leads out to Via Dietro Duomo, the street behind the Duomo, where the building at Numbers 26 – 28 was once the home of the poet, Francesco Petrarch, while he was a canon of the Cathedral of Padua.

The Duomo has been the seat of the Bishop of Padua since the fourth century.