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.

Friday, January 22, 2021

Visit Este

The small town that inspired the poet Shelley

The historic town of Este in the province of Padua, with its varied and interesting architecture, is an excellent choice for a day trip from Padua as it takes under an hour by train and about 40 minutes by car.

You can walk into the centre of the town from the station in a few minutes, arriving in Piazza Maggiore, Este’s main square, in time for a drink before lunch.

The remains of the castle surrounded by gardens
Este is a wonderful example of ‘small town Italy’, with reasonably priced restaurants and bars, and plenty of things to see. It is unspoilt and relaxing to be there as it doesn’t get overcrowded with tourists.

To understand its 3000 year history, during which it has been ruled by Romans, Barbarians, important families during the medieval period, the Venetians, the French and the Austrians, you could not do much better than visit Este’s highly regarded Museo Nazionale Atestino. Right in the centre of the town, the museum is housed in Palazzo Mocenigo, a 16th century palace that incorporates part of the walls of the castle into its fa├žade. There are said to be 65,000 items of historical significance in the museum’s collection.

Este’s castle was built in the 11th century by the Este family, who eventually moved on to Ferrara, where they built another, perhaps more famous, castle.

Este’s original castle was destroyed in the 14th century and then rebuilt by Ubertino da Carrara, Lord of Padova. He used it as a defensive outpost against the ruling families of Verona and Milan.

After Este and Padua were taken over by the Venetians, the castle was partially demolished and a wall and towers are all that remain today of the 14th century structure. Inside the walls, there is a beautiful garden, which is open to the public and is a lovely place to sit and rest, particularly when the rose garden is in full bloom.

Piazza Maggiore is in the centre of town
Este’s most important church, the Duomo of Santa Tecla, was erected in the 17th century on the site of an earlier church. It is well worth a visit, if only to see the large painting by Giambattista Tiepolo depicting Santa Tecla praying for the deliverance of Este from the plague.

While in Este you can also see the Villa Kunkler, which was rented by the English poet, Lord Byron, in the early years of the nineteenth century. He allowed his fellow poet and friend, Percy Shelley, to live there with his family between 1817 and 1818. Shelley was so inspired by the natural beauty of his surroundings he wrote some of his best poetry there, including Lines Written Among the Euganean Hills. Inspired by Este he wrote:

‘Of old forests echoing round

And the light and smell divine

Of all flowers that breathe and shine:

We may live so happy there,

That the Spirits of the Air

Envying us, may even entice

To our healing paradise

The polluting multitude:

But their rage would be subdu’d

By that clime divine and calm,

And the winds whose wings rain balm

On the uplifted soul, and leaves

Under which the bright sea heaves;’


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Friday, January 1, 2021

Capodanno in Italy

Toasting the New Year the Italian way

New Year’s Day is called Capodanno in Italy, which literally means ‘head of the year’.

It is a public holiday and schools, Government offices, post offices and banks are closed.

After a late start following the New Year’s Eve festivities, many families will enjoy another traditional feast together. This year is obviously different, with the option of booking a restaurant for a big family meal off the agenda because of Covid-19 restrictions.

It is still possible to attend church services - another tradition before the festive meal - but anyone leaving their home under the current lockdown measures has to fill in a certificate before venturing out with police entitled to check their purpose is legitimate.  As well as going to places of worship, Italians can leave their homes only for essential shopping or to seek healthcare.

Italy is in what has been determined as 'red zone' restrictions, much like those imposed in March last year after the first outbreak of the virus. The measures will be eased for one day on 4 January, allowing non-essential shops to reopen, but are due to be re-imposed on 5 January ahead of another traditional celebration, the Feast of Epiphany.

Rai Uno traditionally broadcasts a New Year’s day concert live. This year it came from Teatro La Fenice, the famous opera house in Venice.


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