Discover the Rich Province of Padua
Padua is a lovely city in the northern Italian region of Veneto. It’s an hour away from Venice and Lake Garda and can’t be missed on your trip through northern Italy! Padua also has rich history and nature. The Venetians occupied the city for a long time until it joined the Roman Empire, and the Euganean Hills offer stunning varieties of flora and fauna.
Maybe you’ve also heard of Padua’s other beautiful sights, like the Basilica of St. Anthony and popular thermal resorts like Abano Terme and Montegrotto Terme. But if pilgrimages and relaxing resorts aren’t enough for you to visit Padua, read on and discover what makes this city so extraordinary!
The Old Town of Padua
In 2021, UNESCO nominated Padua as a World Heritage Site for its beautiful fourteenth-century frescoes. You’ll find the murals on several buildings throughout the city.
These precious Renaissance frescoes revolutionized Italian painting and storytelling. For the first time, each depiction highlighted the characters’ flaws and feelings. Thus, a new perspective arose: these individuals were not perfect saints, but real people with real emotions!
The Scrovegni Chapel and the Palazzo della Ragione are more must-sees. The first is an absolute masterpiece, with stunning walls and ceilings painted by Giotto. All you’ll need to enter is a 10-euro ticket – a price well worth the awe. In the past, the top floor of Palazzo della Ragione was where criminals were convicted. The bottom floor still holds a famous market, where you can eat and buy various local specialities. One example is the bigoli, a type of egg pasta.
The University of Padua
Students around the world come together to study at the famous University of Padua. Founded in 1222, it’s one of the oldest universities in the world and exemplifies the freedom of thought associated with education.
Perhaps this university’s most iconic professor is Galileo Galilei, who taught here between 1592 and 1610. You can also visit the historical Palazzo del Bo theater in the centre of the university, across from the town hall.
The university is also home to the Botanical Garden, founded in 1545 as a medical garden. As the first and oldest botanical garden in the world, it’s definitely worth visiting! It’s perfectly preserved despite centuries of history, hence its designation as a World Heritage Site in 1997.
Prato della Valle and the Basilica of St. Justina
Near the Botanical Garden, you’ll find the Prato della Valle, one of the largest squares in Europe and an important city landmark. People gather here daily to admire the stunning statues, picturesque canals, and beautiful bridges. Plus, there’s a market featuring flowers, fruits, vegetables, and much more every Saturday. This is the perfect place to take a break from your tour through the city!
Prato della Valle also contains the oldest church in the city, the Basilica of St. Justina. According to legend, it was built in 304 and has played an important role in religion, society, and politics. It’s also one of the largest Catholic churches in the world.
Padua features many squares where you can rest, meet friends, and go shopping, including Piazza dei Signori, Piazza delle Erbe, and Piazza dei Frutti. Relax in a bar or café and enjoy your Spritz!
Speaking of, did you know Aperol Spritz comes from Padua? This drink, also called aperitivo, is rooted in the region’s culture. Many people meet in the squares before dinner to have a Spritz and eat snacks, called Cicchetti. This includes small bites of bread, cheese, pizza, and potato chips. Usually, you only pay for the drink (about 3.50 euro). But beware! The aperitivo is customarily served around 6 or 7 pm because dinner doesn’t start until 8 or even half past 8. However, you’re more than welcome to eat earlier. If you don’t like noise and crowds, you can also walk through the small streets nearby or along the banks of the canals and find your own quiet corner.
The Province of Padua
The Euganean Hills: Sport and Wellness, Wine, and Art
Even though Padua is in the heart of Po Valley, the Euganean Hills cover the region’s southwestern portion. Because of these hills’ volcanic origin, the Romans frequently used their thermal baths.
The Monte Venda (601 m) is the highest point of the Euganean Hills, toward the centre. The entire area – almost 20,000 hectares – also became a regional park in 1989.
The mild climate provides the ideal conditions for olive and wine growing. There are 13 DOC wine types (i.e., quality wine cultivated from specific areas). This includes the Cabernet Franc, Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Serprino, and Moscato Fior d’Arancio, the popular drinks at local festivals.
This region is also the perfect place to exercise in nature. You can hike or bike along networks of hiking trails or scale Rocca Pendice, a natural climbing garden perfect for mountaineers and climbers. Some even let you ride a horse!
The Euganean Hills not only offers hiking paths, forests, vineyards, and olive groves, but also architectural heritage. Many villas, castles, monasteries, and historic cities await your discovery!
Abano and Montegrotto Terme
Abano and Montegrotto Terme are thermal baths in the centre of the Euganean Hills. If you stay in one of the over 100 hotels, you’ll experience extravagant amenities, including mud and balneotherapy, spas, saunas, Turkish baths, and modern fitness rooms. Relax and let yourself be pampered from head to toe.
These pleasant spa activities with sports in the hills provide the perfect combo for a dream holiday. Imagine: after hiking in nature all day, spend the evening unwinding in a thermal spa!
Castles and Villas
As mentioned before, Padua has many sights. If the Middle Ages fascinate you, you must visit the Castle of Monselice and the Castle of Catajo, two medieval fortresses.
The villas also offer remarkable views. The magnificent Villa Barbarigo in Valsanzibio was built in the seventeenth century and symbolizes the region. It features a stunning boxwood labyrinth and the monumental Diana Bath. Other impressive historical buildings include the Villa Emo Capodilista, Villa dei Vescovi, and Villa of Arquà.
The Four Walled Towns
Four towns within Padua have impressive walls shielding them from the outside world. These are Cittadella, Monselice, Este, and Montagnana.
Cittadella’s town wall is especially unique because it’s entirely preserved. Take a quiet walk along the border and admire a breathtaking view of the city.
You can even travel back in time to the year 1100! Medieval costumes, musicians, games, and tournaments fill the city streets and bring life to the ancient atmosphere. These events are guaranteed fun, especially for Game of Thrones fans!
Your Trip to Padua
Does a trip to Padua and its province excite you now? Its proximity to Venice and Verona means it’s easily accessible by bus or train. Alternatively, you can book a flight or visit Padua by touring northern Italy.
Padua is a city with a lot to offer despite its small size! The fourteenth-century frescoes throughout the old town transformed the art of painting. Visit the Scrovegni Chapel to see for yourself!
Then, stroll through the ancient streets and discover the city’s hidden details and beautiful sights. And don’t forget to visit the Botanical Garden, lush with plant life and history! The city’s most iconic landmarks are the Basilica of St. Anthony, the Basilica of St. Justina, and the Prato della Valle. And if you need a break, take a seat in one of the squares to enjoy an espresso or Spritz.
The province of Padua offers even more than the city! In the Euganean Hills, you can take a hike, relax in calming thermal baths, then let the villas, castles, and medieval town walls enchant you. What more could you need on your next vacation? Plan your visit to Padua today!