Padua (Padova in Italian) is one of the most amazing cities in the region of Veneto, and if you want to visit Venice make sure to make time for a day trip to visit this beautiful city.
For centuries Padova was under the control of Venice, and its history is very tied to the city of Serenissima. Most of the canals of Padua are artificial and were built specifically to allow boats from Venice to arrive for commerce into the center of the city.
A WALK IN PADUA
Walking down its streets you will see the Renaissance grandeur of the squares, the Byzantine cathedral and a university with the world’s first botanical garden. But it’s not only about art and culture, Padova is the true gay treasure of the region!
Enjoy visiting the city by foot. Start your visit of the city from one of Padua’s iconic places. Prato della Valle is an elliptical city square where the main events of the city take place. It is one of the largest squares in Europe and is surrounded by canals with two rings of statues. Starting from this square you can see one of the main landmarks of the city.
Basilica di Sant’Antonio is a popular destination and this basilica is a fantastic mix of Romanesque, Gothic and Byzantine culture. Enter into the Basilica to view the interesting interior filled with notable artworks, marble inlays and the high altar by Donatello. In front of the Basilica you can find another masterpiece of Donatello, the first equestrian statue of Gattamelata, a Venetian army commander. In the square known as Piazza del Santo you can see the Museo Antoniano, Scuola di Sant’Antonio and the Oratorio San Giorgio where you can admire the marvelous frescos by Altichieri and Avanzi.
Few meters off to the Basilica you will arrive in the Orto Botanico di Padova. This botanical garden is one of the most romantic places in Padua. It was founded in 1545 and it is the world’s oldest existing academic botanical garden. The idea of the botanical garden was born with the Orto Botanico di Padova. Here students identify the medicinal plants and study exotic species. Today, it is the place where you can learn about plants and admire all the species that are grown here.
Padua during the Middle Ages and Renaissance was the center of humanism, medicine and astronomy. In this city, very important intellectual scholars such as Galileo and Copernicus studied here. In 1678, for first time in the world, a woman received a university degree. Spend some hours of your visit enjoying the Palazzo Bo. In the rooms of this Palace, Galileo lectured in the Aula Magna developing the law of accelerated motion and designing the first telescopic lens. Don’t miss a visit to the oval anatomical theater and to the Astronomical Observatory, La Specola.
Continue your visit of the city by going to one of the most iconic places in Padua. Cappella degli Scrovegni was built as part of a sumptuous palace that once was the property of Enrico Scrovegni. The Scrovegni Chapel may not look extraordinary from the outside, but once you enter you will surprised by the magnificence of the walls of this chapel. The interior of the Capella degli Scrovegni is one of Italy’s richest treasures as the walls are entirely covered with frescoes by Giotto. The scenes of the life of the Virgin and of Christ are the best-preserved works of Giotto. Take your time to enjoy the vivid colors and expressions of these outstanding masterpieces including the Kiss of Judas and the Lamentation. If you want to visit the chapel make sure to make reservations as this is one of the most popular must see places in Italy.
Now it’s time to go to the old city center of Padua. Palazzo della Regione is the medieval Palace of Justice between Piazza della Frutta and Piazza delle Erbe. It was built in 121 A.D. as a law court and it is covered with marvelous frescoes panels with astronomical and zodiac themes. In Piazza dei Signori you can also see the elegant palace of the Loggia dei Consigli. Spend some time to see its tower with the giant astronomical clock.
Under Palazzo della Ragione there’s a gallery called “Il Salone” by the locals. Here you can find several food shops of cheese, cold cuts, meat and an excellent winery. This is the place to go if you are in love with Italian food.
Rest for a while with a stop to Caffè Pedrocchi. This is an historical café founded in the 18th century in Padua. Caffè Pedrocchi was a regular meeting point for many intellectuals and artists such as Lord Byron and Stendhal and he defined it as “simply the best café in the world”.
A few meters from Piazza dei Signori you will find the Renaissance cathedral of Padua. In this church, you can see paintings by Tiepolo and the outstanding baptismal font with a cycle of frescoes by Giusto de’ Menabuoi.
A typical local food market in the place where people of Padua enjoy night llfe. La Folperia is a food market in Piazza delle Erbe. Here you can try the folpetti, a little type of octopus, fried fish and shrimp. Try them with a good glass of prosecco or white wine. This is the local way of doing aperitivo.
Street art at Padua
Padua is also known for the vibrant street art that you can see everywhere in the city. Among street artists, Kenny Random is the most well-known. This local artist loves to paint the walls of his city with men’s shadows, colorful butterflies and cats. You can find his murals in Via Roma, Via Sauro and in Piazza Castello.
The Musei Civici of Padua is a big complex where you can find paintings by Giotto, Bellini, Tiepolo and Tintoretto. It is one of the finest collections of work by artists of the Veneto region.
Musme is the Museum of the history of Medicine of Padua. In the rooms of this museum you will discover the progress of medicine from the earliest times to the present.
Palazzo Zuckermann contains collections of applied and decorative arts. From glassware to jewelery, from textiles to furniture, in the rooms of this museum you can discover the development of different tastes throughout the centuries.
Address: City Museums, Piazza Eremitani 8
Padova is perfectly situated and is often used as a base for trips to Venice. But if you choose to visit Padua for more than one day there are many attractions to see.
The River Brenta is a place full of villas and places where you can relax sunbathing in its coast. The river flows through Padua and enters the Adriatic Sea in Venice. Stra is a town not far from Padua famous for its Villa Pisani that has a ballroom with a large painting by Tiepolo (1762). A visit to its outstanding gardens is mandatory. In summer you can enjoy the sun and the water at Fontaniva, the gay beach of the river.
The Euganean Hills (Colli Euganei) are located in the southwest of Padua. This hill is famous for its hot springs and spas where you can relax with friends or your partner. One of the most famous cities for its thermal springs is Abano Terme, a town that has been popular since the Roman time. Montegrotto Terme is another town famous for its hot springs spa where you can find the remains of ancient Roman baths and a old theater.
The town of Este is located in southwest Padua. It was the seat of the powerful family of Este and it is a perfect destination for those who love arts and history. Make sure to visit The Museo Nazionale Atestino, in the Palazzo del Castello, and view its prehistoric collections.
The town of Montagnana is one of the finest examples of medieval towns in Europe. Spend hours walking in the town and visiting the medieval walls, the Castle of San Zeno, the gothic cathedral and one of the most famous Palladio masterpieces, Villa Pisani.
Padua has a very dynamic and vibrant nightlife. Here you can find one of the most interesting gay lifestyles of the Veneto region and every kind of bar and party. Piazza delle Erbe is the place where people meet for the night and many bars in the squares are good places to drink an aperitivo or to meet someone.
If you want a gay local night start your day with a drink with friends at Anima Drinks & More, a historic gay bar. If you love to dance, Padua is the perfect place because you can have a great time in one of the many discos. Flexo club is perfect for those who love bears and otters, Hot Dog club is a sex club where are organized naked parties and Officina is the place where the leather and fetish people can find someone to share their love. For those who want to have fun and meet men Metro Sauna Padova is the right place!
BEFORE YOU GO
Padua has no main airport. You can arrive by air in the nearby Venice Marco Airport and Venice Treviso, but you can get to the city by train arriving from all over Italy.
Festivals and main events
There are several festivals, holidays and other events celebrated in Padua each year.
When you arrive in Padua get in touch with the local tourist office for more information and to help organize your stay.