Only 25 miles away from Venice, Padua still remains one of Italy’s less visited cities. Whereas its big sister in the lagoon is bustling with tourists, fortunately tourism has not yet taken over here. It is the perfect place to experience Italy’s city life, strolling along its canals, porticoed streets, churches and daily markets.
An Italian saying defines Padua as the “city of the 3 withouts” (città dei tre senza). A doorless café (il caffè senza porte), a grass-free lawn (il prato senza erba) and a nameless saint (il santo senza nome) stand for three of the city’s main sights.
- The Cafè without doors – Café Pedrocchi
A historic café of international fame, situated in the very heart of Padua, Café Pedrocchi has been a prestigious meeting point meeting for intellectuals, students, academics and politicians for over a century. Open day and night until 1916 and therefore known as the “Café without doors”, it is one of Padova’s iconic places and worth a stop to admire its elegant interior while enjoying a strong Italian espresso and some of the delicious pastries.
- The lawn without grass – Prato della Valle
What once used to be a swampy area, today is one of the largest and most beautiful squares in Europe. It is a large space with a green island at the center, surrounded by a small canal bordered by two rings of statues.
- The Saint without a name – Sant’Antonio
Franciscan miracle-worker of Portoguese origins, Saint Anthony, was noted by his contemporaries for his forceful preaching, expert knowledge of scripture, and undying love and devotion to the poor and the sick. After his death he was canonized in record time and since then the pilgrims kept flowing in. Around 1238 the construction of Padua’s Basilica di Sant’Antonio began and gave the flocks of pilgrims a place of worship of “the Saint”.
On the 23rd September 216 the seventh edition of the WTE World Tourism Expo, an event that promotes the world Heritage sites and cities, was held in Padua. Anne and Marco attended the B2B workshop and had to chance to meet many international buyers.
On this occasion they also met Nicola, airberlin Area Manager, who lives in Padua and offered himself as a local guide during lunch break.
Thanks to him Anne and Marco discovered another of Padova’s withouts:
- The Astronomical clock without the sign for Libra
Apart from the signs of the Zodiac, this very complex clock strikes the hours and indicates the days and months, the phases of the moon as well as the motion of the planet. According to a legend, the Libra symbol is missing because the builder was annoyed at the fact that he wasn’t paid the price which he thought he was entitled for his effort and therefore deliberately didn’t include it in the cycle.
As one of Northern Italy’s oldest cities, Padua’s university is the second university to be established in Italy after Bologna in 1222. It became famous throughout Europe as a seat of learning, counting Galileo among its tutors and is still one of Italy’s leading universities.
Padua makes the perfect destination for a city break in Italy and apart from its beautiful city centre, there are two more sights you shouldn’t miss out. Make sure you stop off at Padua’s absolutely gorgeous botanical gardens, which have been the first to be created for academic purposes by the university in 1545 and have been listed as a World Heritage site by the UNESCO in 1997.
Another gem that make the city a must on a visitor’s itinerary in Veneto is the Scrovegni Chapel. Although rather unimpressive from the outside, it is considered to be one of the most important masterpieces of the early Renaissance. The Florence painter and architect Giotto decorated the chapel with the famous fresco cycle that depicts the Life of the Virgin and the Life of Christ.
No need to add something else – “We love Padova”.