Padova is known as the city of the “Saint without a name”, the “field without grass” and the “café without doors”.
The Basilica of Saint Anthony is so famous that locals simply call it “Il Santo” (The Saint).
The monumental neoclassical square "Prato della Valle", the largest in Europe, was originally a marshy place where grass never grew.
In the 19th Century, the famous cafè-bar “Pedrocchi” was built and it was open day and night!
The origins of the city date back to a very ancient past; an ancient legend found in Virgil’s “Aeneid“ tells the story of “Antenore”, who, escaping from the fire of Troy, founded the city of Padua.
Historically, Padova was established over three thousand years ago and was one of the main centres for the development of the Ancient Veneti tribes.
The Roman period can still be witnessed by visiting the remains of an ancient arena and even more can be discovered at the Civil Museum which is also linked to the Scrovegni Chapel, hosting Giotto’s majestic cycle of frescoes.
Padova is a picturesque city and with its 12 km of arcaded streets, you can have a pleasant guided walk both with rain or sunshine!
Discover and enjoy the Medieval city centre with our tour guides, its lively squares including Piazza dei Signori and Piazza della Frutta e delle Erbe. Then the guided walk continues around the Palazzo della Ragione, the XIII/XIV century City Council and Low Court. The Great Hall on the upper floor is reputed to have Europe’s largest unsupported roof. On the ground floor experience the colourful market just as it was in the Middle Ages. The Jewish Ghetto, characterized by narrow streets and tall buildings, is also located in the surrounding area.
Not to be missed is also the Palazzo del Bo’ the city’s main university building. Padova is famous for its university which was founded in 1222 and is the second oldest in Italy. It is renowned for its Faculty of Medicine and hosts the Anatomy Theatre, built in 1594. The university also boasts the oldest Botanical Garden in the world, founded in 1545 as a garden of curative herbs which is attached to the University’s Faculty of Medicine and is on UNESCO’s World Heritage list.
Galileo Galilei taught at the university of Padua and it is here that the first ever woman, Elena Cornaro Piscopia, graduated in 1678.
The province of Padova offers many interesting tours: Medieval walled cities including Cittadella, Monselice, Este, Montagnana, historical and picturesque towns like Arquà Petrarca and churches and abbeys such as Praglia.
Nature Guides are also available for those interested in walking and bike tours in the Euganean Hills’ Natural Park and for visits to the therapeutic Spas of Abano and Motegrotto.
Guided walk in the historical city centre that starts at St. Anthony’s Basilica (inside if there are no religious celebrations), the paduan shrine with the tomb and the reliquary of the saint, takes you through narrow streets right to the medieval heart of the city with its squares: Piazza delle Erbe, della Frutta, dei Signori. Here the tour guide will point out the finest and symbolic monuments at you. Palazzo della Ragione, also called “Salone” for its enormous hanging Hall, that for a long time it was the biggest of its kind in the world, with its characteristic hollow-like roof. The “Salone” stands in the middle of a lively trade area which from the covered market located on the ground floor of the Palace, where all the shops that sell the typical products of the territory are, it continues on the Piazze della Frutta and delle Erbe with the stalls that sell the best fruit and vegetables. The guided walk continues in Piazza dei Signori, whose name refers to the Carraresi family that governed the city in the XIV c. On the western side rises up the Clock Tower, with its special clock mechanism. Probably the first to be created in Italy, it is actually a reproduction of the one invented and built by the astronomer and physician Jacopo Dondi in 1344, then always called “dell’Orologio”, which means of the clock.
The City Hall that houses the magnificent Upper Court, rebuilt in the XVI c. according to plans by the great architect Andrea Moroni, is linked to the Palazzo della Ragione by a monumental stairway. Right opposite the Municipal Palace stands the XVI c. façade of the Palazzo del Bo, the ancient university seat, the oldest in Italy after Bologna, it was founded in 1222. It is worth a visit for the great Courtyard of Honour(middle XVI c.) by Andrea Moroni; the Hall of the Forty, the former Aula Magna, that holds the rather plain wooden desk from where, according to tradition, the great Galileo Galilei used to teach in the period between 1592 and 1610; the Aula Magna has its walls completely covered with decorations and coat-of-arms, and the renowned Anatomical Theatre, the oldest in the world built in 1594. The building also houses the statue of the first woman in the world to have graduated at Padua’s University – Elena Lucrezia Cornaro Piscopia.
Next to the “Bo” stands one of the most important European coffee-houses, the historical Caffè Pedrocchi, the “Café with no doors”, so have Paduans for several years been calling their Café. It actually remained open day and night according to its first owner’s wish Antonio Pedrocchi. Here you can have a taste of its famous and delicious Espresso with mint cream!
This walking tour is ideal for individuals, groups and students on a school trip.
Duration of the visit: 2 Hours.
BRENTA CANAL AND VENETIAN VILLAS
By bus or by bike along the Brenta River.
It’s possible to admire the enchanting and sumptuous facades of the villas along the Brenta River visiting some of them such as:
Villa Pisani, the “little Versailles”, commissioned by the doge Almorò Pisani: more than 100 rooms, forniture, frescoes, the ballroom with marvellous Tiepolo’s fresco, its gardens with the stables, the pond, the orangery, the labyrinth
Villa Widmann-Foscari, in French Rococo’ taste, All the rooms are finely decorated with precious polychrome stuccoes, a big garden with plants, bushes, statues, the private chapel near a venetian “campiello”, little square.The Villa has been owned by the Provincial Council of Venice since 1984.
Villa Foscari “La Malcontenta”, the villa designed by Palladio for the brothers Nicolò and Alvise Foscari around the end of the 50’s with the splendid interior decorations by Battista Franco and Gian Battista Zelotti.
Duration of the visit: 6 hours
With our naturalistic guides discovering the differnt aspects and beauties of the Hills in Padua Province
The Euganean Hills are a group of hills of volcanic origin that rise to heights of 300 to 500 meters from the Padovan-Venetian plain a few kilometers south of Padua. The Colli Euganei form the first regional park established in the Veneto, (1989) enclosing fifteen towns and eighty-one hills and they have been celebrated from a lot of artists such as Francesco Petrarca, Shelley and Byron.
You can visit the beautiful cities on the hills on foot, appreciating the beauty of the landscape, the plants, the trees, the animals.
In this way you can visit the charming surroundigs of Arqua’ Petrarca, who lived the famous artist Francesco Petrarca and Valsanzibio Garden, which ranges among the most important and unspoiled baroque gardens in the world. It was achieved in 1669 by the Venetian nobleman Zuane Francesco Barbarigo with fountains, fish ponds, the Rabbit’s island and the maze.
The Euganean Hills
About 100 hills of varying heights and shapes are protected by Colli Euganei Regional Park. Mild climate, typical products, local feasts, castles, monastery, cathedrals, museum and more!
ARQUA’ PETRARCA and its enchanting historical medieval centre, Petrarca’s house, his tomb and giuggiula fruit!
ESTE, the major centre of the Veneti people of the 7/6th century BC and town of the House of Este. Sightseeing of the historical centre with its Castle and the gardens, the cathedral with Tiepolo’altarspiece, the Archeological National Museum.
MONSELICE, sightseeing of the medieval historical centre, the castle with one of the most important collections of European medieval weapons and armors, the old cathedral, the Belvedere, the seven churches votive walk and Villa Duodo
MONTAGNANA, the town with a Palio, good and sweet ham! The historical centre is enclosed by medieval walls with the Rocca degli Alberi and Ezzelino’s tower. Visit to the cathdreal with Veronese’ altarpiece.
PRAGLIA: visit of the benedictine monastery where 32 monks live following the ancient rule “ora et labora” of Benedict of Nursia.
Petrarca’s house museum: €3 , €1,50 reduced for groups of minimum 10 persons
Monselice castle: €5. €4,50 reduced for groups
Este Museum: €2, €1 reduced for groups
GIOTTO AND HIS TIME
Visit of the Scrovegni Chapel (for info http://www.cappelladegliscrovegni.it), the most famuous cycle of frescoes realized by Giotto between 1303 and 1305, which represents a unique masterpiece of figurative art, the Eremitani Church, with frescoes by Guariento and Giusto de’ Menabuoi and Ovetari Chapel of Mantegna, the Civic Museum, specially the wooden crucifix by Giotto and the Warrior Angels by Guariento
PADUA BOTANICAL GARDEN
The city of Padova offers among many important historic and artistic complexes a natural treasure: the botanical garten, an interesting destination not only for tourists who love nature but also for all people who would like to see another aspect of the city.
The botanical garden of Padova is the world’s oldest academic garden.
It was founded in 1545 after deliberation of the Senate of the Venetian Republic for the cultivation of medicinal plants, which later constituted the largest portion of the so-called “simple” herbs, i.e. medicaments of natural origin.
It has preserved throughout the centuries its original location and its main scientific and architectonical features, despite some modifications at the beginning of the 18th century.
In ancient times the identification of medicinal plants by botanists was uncertain, and frequently led to mistakes and even frauds, The institution of a Horto medicinale, prompted by Francesco Bonafede, who held the chair of “Lecturer of Simples“, enabled students to identify true medicinal plants from false ones.
Since the botanical garden housed many rare plants, it was often targeted by thieves. To protect it, a circular enclosing wall was built in 1552 (hence the namesHortus sphaericus, Hortus cinctus, and Hortus conclusus). The garden was constantly enriched with plants from all over the world, particularly from countries where the Venetian Republic had possessions, or with which it traded. This is why Padova played such an essential role in the introduction and study of several exotic species for instance: ginkgo, magnolia, potato, jasmine, acacia, sunflower, lilac, rhubarb, for a total of 70 species.
The botanical garden of Padova currently covers roughly 22,000 square meters and hosts 6000 different cultivated species. Its collections include: medicinal and poisonous plants, insectivorous plants, orchids,aquatic plants, alpine and Mediterranean plants and besides plants from the Euganean Hills and Triveneto .
At present the oldest plant is a palm planted in 1585 called the “Goethe palm“, because the german poet referred to it in his essay “The Metamorphoses of Plants”. This tree is situated in a greenhouse inside the Ortus Sphearicus, where there are also a ginkgo and a magnolia dating back to the mid-18th century, which are regarded as the oldest specimens in Europe.
The Botanical Garden of Padua is considered as “the mother” of all botanical gardens throughout the world, and represents the birth of science, of scientific exchanges, and understanding of the relationship between nature and culture. It has made a profound contribution to the development of many modern scientific disciplines, such as botany, medicine, chemistry, ecology and pharmacy.
At present the paduan botanical garden cares for the preservation of many rare and menaced species and it carries out intense educational and popular activity and different types of researches.
In 1997 it was listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
We invite you to discover and enjoy also this special beauty of the city. For further information and details don’t hesitate to contact Assoguide Veneto.
Padua and its religious Heritage
The Cittadella Antoniana: Basilica of St. Anthony, School of the Saint and Oratory of St. George, Basilica of St. Giustina and Sanctuary of St. Leopoldo.
The city of Padua is deeply permeated with the intense spiritual presence of the most beloved saint. The Basilica of St. Anthony is the most striking sign of the great devotion that thousands of pilgrims throughout the world feel for the “Saint”, as he is simply called by the paduans. During the tour, your guide will take you through the imposing and complex religious building that was started in 1232, a year after St. Anthony’s death. The outside of the Basilica is a mixture of Lombard, Tuscan and Byzantine styles, whereas the 8 domes and the two bell-towers show oriental features in their style. The Chapel of the Saint, also known as the Ark, houses the tomb (sarcophagus) of St. Anthony, by Andrea Briosco and Gianmaria Falconetto. Inside the Basilica are held important ancient and contemporary works of art, among which the High Altar with the bronze statues by Donatello, who created the equestrian statue of the “Gattamelata” on the parvis of the Basilica, as well. Other works are by Sansovino, Briosco, Tiepolo, Tiziano, Achille Casanova, Pietro Annigoni. Overlooking Piazza del Santo is the Oratory of St. George, the funerary chapel of the marquis Lupi di Soragna, built in 1377 and completely frescoed by Altichiero da Zevio and Jacopo Avanzi. The School of the Saint, also called “Scoletta”, since 1427 is the seat of the Brotherhood of St. Anthony and houses a cycle of paintings depicting the “Miracles of the Saint”, three of which were painted by a young Titian in 1511.
From here and across Prato della Valle the guided tour will take you to the Basilica of St. Giustina. This imposing church is with its 120 mt lenght one of widest basilicas in the world. The Basilica is dedicated to St. Giustina, one of the first paduan martyrs back in 304 A.D. Among the several works of art decorating the interior of the church, is the enormous Altar-piece byPaolo Veronese, depicting the “Martyrdom of St. Giustina”, to see. Through the corridor of the Martyrs, in which stands the well of the Martyrs’ relics, one can get to the Early Christian Chapel of St. Prosdocimus, the oldest christian building in Padua. In a ten-minute walk you then can get to the Sanctuary of St. Leopoldo Mandic, which still helds the remains and the confessional-cell of St. Leopoldo.
ST. FRANCIS PADUA
This walking tour offered by Padua’s Tour Guides is a pleasant walk through medieval St. Francis street. It starts at Anthenor’s tomb, the legendary founder of the city, who legend has it that he escaped the sacking of Troy and in 1182 B.C. reached the Adriatic Coast before sailing up the river Meduacus, the actual Brenta, and founded the city of Padua.
Farther on you’ll come across Palazzo Zabarella on your left side, a fine example of medieval “Tower-House” dating back to XII-XIII c.. Thanks to an accurate restoration, today the palace is the seat of the Bano Foundation which organizes modern and contemporary art exhibitions.
Now continue your walk under the famous paduan porticoes, a typical characteristic of the city, where the entrance of former St. Francis Hospital is located, and whose eleven pointed arches are linked to the twenty-six of St. Francis Church and Monastery. The hospital was begun in 1414 and used until 1798. In its premises the “Museum of the Medicine and Health History” will be set up. It is well renowned that the former hospital with the adjoining church and monastery were founded by Baldo dei Bonafari and his wife Sibilia dei Cetto in the first half of the XV c..
The guided visit includes St. Francis Church, as well, which was erected in XV c. and enlarged at the beginning of the following century. Up till now it has been enriched with works of art by the most significant artists of the various periods. Among the several pictorial works we should mention the fresco decoration of the chapel dedicated to the Virgin Mary, which was commissioned to the painter Gerolamo Tessari known as “del Santo” by the School of Charity, who painted it between 1523 and 1524.
The School of Charity, located on the opposite side of the street, was the seat of the same-named charity institution for serving those in need, in which a cycle of frescoes dedicated to the Virgin Mary and painted by Dario Varotari in 1579 can be admired.
Not far from this building the Oratory of S. Margaret of Antiochia can be visited. In medieval times the Oratory became the religious hub of the same-named paduan district until the construction of St. Francis Church. The actual façade, which was built in 1748, is considered the very first work by the venetian architect Tommaso Temanza. The precious XVIII c. building houses an interesting pictorial decoration among which the fresco “Martyrdom and Glory of St. Margaret” attributed to the painter from Verona Giorgio Anselmi stands out.
Tour duration: 2 hours
The tour can be arranged for groups, individuals, school trips to Padua.
THE CIVIC MUSEUM
Eremitani Civic Museums – since 1985 the various artistic and archaeological collections have been displayed in the cloisters of the old Eremitani monastery, next to the same-named church and most renowned Scrovegni Chapel (included in the circuit). The collections are divided into several sections including the Archaeological Museum which displays findings from the palaeo-Veneto epoch to Roman times. The Art Museum is made up of the painting gallery displaying works, mainly by artists working in the Veneto area, the Capodilista Collection, the Renaissance Bronzes and the rich Sculpture Collection from the early 14th to the 19th c.
Palazzo Zuckermann – it is located opposite the Roman Arena, the Scrovegni Chapel and the Eremitani Museums. It was commissioned at the beginning of 20thc. by Enrico Zuckermann, an important businessman, who founded the company Zedapa. The palace, which is included in the circuit of the Civic Museums, now houses the Bottacin Museum and the very rich collections of the Art Museum, Applied and Decorative Arts. During the visit you will admire the handicraft objects used in Padua between the Middle Ages and the second half of 19th c. Ample space is devoted to ceramics, especially 16th c. majolica from the workshops of Urbino, Pesaro and Venice. The total coins’ collection of Nicola Bottacin, a wealthy merchant who in 1865 gave the city his entire art and coins’ collections, occupies an entire floor of the palace.
The Museum of the Risorgimento and Contemporary Age has been set up in some of the rooms of the Caffè Pedrocchi first floor, the renowned Café built by Antonio Pedrocchi at the beginning of 19thc. The exhibition is divided into various sections displaying items and documents of the most relevant historic events, covering the period from the Downfall of the Republic of Venice in 1797 up to the Constitution of the Republic in 1948. Extremely rich is the section dedicated to the Risorgimento, especially about the city of Padua, as precisely from this Café sparked the revolt of the paduan Risorgimento in 1848. Other crucial historic events displayed in the exhibition are the Armistice signed at Villa Giusti, which marked the end of the World War I, the Fascist period and the Paduan Giorgio Perlasca, the severe damages caused by air-raids to some of the most important buildings of the city during World War II.