Caravella Habitat Luxury Apartment is located just in 10 minutes distance from fascinating Padua old city with its manificent worldwide famous square Prato della Valle and Basilica of St. Anthony.
In Padova art, culture, nature, science and spirituality blend in a unique mix that makes the visit a complete enjoyment.
The city can be discovered in many ways, simply wandering around, appreciating the sightings behind every corner.
Although the city is fairly well sized for Italian standards, the vast majority of interesting sights is concentrated in the city centre. That is quite common for most Italian cities because they often developed around the ancient roman or medieval walled town. Furthermore, the two rivers of the town (the Brenta, from North to east and the Bacchiglione, from south) and the net of navigable canals set the boudaries of Padova. Walls and canals determined not only its shape but its history and its development. A nice way to see Padova from a different perspective is to navigate along the internal canals with one of the boat tours departing from the ancient port of the Portello.
Almost all interesting sites could be reached on foot but you could take public transport or use the Sightseeing City Bus that travels through the main points of interest and can be taken either for a complete tour or as a “hop in-hop out” link from one site to another.To make the best of your visit, make sure you have a Padova City Card that will ensure you admittance to most monuments and museums and discounts on many other services including boat trips and the City Sightseeing Bus. The card can be bought in all IAT (Tourist Information Office) points.
The Eremitani City Museum (Museo Civico degli Eremitani) displays a rich collection of roman and pre-roman finds in what used to be the Augustinian Hermits monastery, along with etruscan and paleochristian ones, and precious works of art dated back between the 14th and the 18th century.
Amongst them, the Crucifix by Giotto and the Angels by Guariento originally created for the adjacent Scrovegni Chapel (Cappella degli Scrovegni) one of the greatest artworks of all times. Completely frescoed by Giotto between 1303 and 1305 is now perfectly preserved thanks to very complex restoration and the beauties it offers to visitors worth alone the trip to Padova, illustrates the life of Mary, the life of Jesus, the Passion of Jesus and the Last Judgement that scared and impressed viewer for centuries, for its realism. With his two stayings in town Giotto marked the rebirth of art in town after the difficult medieval times.
Frescoes remained throughout centuries a tradition of Padova, that can now feature a treasure rarely comparable.
The Eremitani Church (Chiesa degli Eremitani) keeps 14th century’s frescoes by Guariento and Altichieri da Zevio; the juvenile masterpieces by Andrea Mantegna, frescoed around 1448-1457 and badly damaged by Allies’bombing in 1944, can still be admired in the Ovetari chapel. The church is also remarkable for its wonderful wooden ceiling and many monumental tombs.
Opposite to Eremitani’s Church, on the other side of Corso Garibaldi, Zuckermann Palace (Palazzo Zuckermann) with the Museo Bottacin and the Museum of Applied Arts and the adjacent University Scientific Museums, which are housed inside Palazzo Cavalli.
Giotto’s imposing artwork in the Cappella degli Scrovegni attracted in town eminent painters and young apprentices willing to learn from the Master, creating a School of Giotto’s followers, some of remarkable ability, who remained in town decorating palaces and churches. Masters as Guariento, Jacopo Avanzi, Altichiero da Zevio, Giusto de Menabuoi and Jacopo da Verona, developed and reinterpreted Giotto’s style and technique.
Their stunning frescoes can still be admired in the Basilica of St. Anthony (Basilica del Santo), started immediately after the death of the Santo (1231) and holding his body, worshipped by pilgrims from all over the world, and the adjacent St. George’s Oratory (Oratorio di San Giorgio), in St. Michele’s Oratory (Oratorio di San Michele) and in the Carraresi Chapel in the Loggia dei Carraresi.
In Piazza del Santo, the square laying in front of the Basilica, stands Donatello’s masterpiece, the bronze equestrian monument dedicated to venetian military leader, Gattamelata, Donatello spent a few years in Padova working also at the Basilica on bronze statues and the bronze reliefs of the High Altar. Near the Basilica, besides St. George’s Oratory, the Scoletta del Santo, also frescoed, partly by Titian, and the Museo Al Santo, venue for temporary exhibitions.
Not far away is the first example of multifunctional entertainment complex, the Renaissance’s Odeo and Loggia Cornaro (Loggia e Odeo Cornaro), decorated by statues and frescoes as natural background for plays, dance, music and debates.
A short distance away you can visit the University Botanical Garden (Orto Botanico), probably the oldest “Simples Garden” (the “simples” were the medicinal plants) in the world. It still keeps about 6000 species of plants and since 1997 is part of the Unesco World Cultural Heritage, being unique for its preserved structure.
A little further opens Prato della Valle, one of the largest town squares in Europe. Prato della Valle, The marshy ground of the Prato (litterally “green field”) was given its unique shape by Venetian Procurator Andrea Memmo in 1775: a large elliptical green island, surrounded by a double layer of statues of famous men facing a canal crossed by 4 bridges, linked by four avenues, marking the island.
On the south-eastern side of the square, the Basilica of S. Giustina (position 2 on the map) with its eight 16th century’s domes. The church is very important for the history of the city as well as for the Christian world holding relics of St.Luke the Evangelist, St. Mattia and St. Giustina, one of the city’s patron saints, whose martyrdom was painted by Veronese in the altarpiece. The Benedictine monastery of Santa Giustina hat a preminent role in the Middle Age for its unique library and still has a famous restoration book centre.
Following via Memmo, opposite the Museum, and passing the Torresino Church you can reach a magnificent exemple of Giotto’s school frescoes, St. Michael Oratory (Oratorio di San Michele), painted by Jacopo da Verona who portraied there one of the most important medieval poets, Francesco Petrarca (Petrarch) who spent his last years in Padova, hosted and protected by his longtime friends Francesco I, the Old and Francesco II, the Young, Carraresi, lords of the Seigneury. Petrarca’s home can be visited in the medieval village of Arquà Petrarca, a few kilometers outside town, on the Euganean Hills.
Just round the corner from the oratory, another symbol of Padova, the Specola (La Specola), the astronomic observatory. From the top of the tower beautiful view on the town and the surrounding territory.
La Specola houses a university museum dedicated to astronomy, where various scientific instruments coming from different countries are displayed and reminds us of the importance astronomy had in town since Pietro d’Abano, later with Galileo, who spent 10 years teaching and researching here, making some of his most important discoveries such as Jupiter’s satellites.
At the back of the tower, the Carraresi Castle (Castello Carrarese), used as city prisons since the 1200, now under restoration.
From the Specola it will be easy to reach the city center walking along the castle, crossing the bridge, passing St. Thomas Church (San Tommaso) and taking via Barbarigo till piazza del Duomo (Cathedral Square).
Two more locations could leave you speechless due to the beauty of their frescoes.
First the enchanting Baptistery (Battistero) of the Cathedral, entirely frescoed, with the stories of St. John the Baptist, the Stories of Mary, the Passion, Death, the Resurrection of Christ and the breathtaking representation of the Paradise on the dome, by De’ Menabuoi; also the nearby Bishops’ Hall in the Bishop’s Palace (now Museo Diocesano), is adorned by the portraits of hundreds of Paduan bishops and the Chapel of St. Mary of the Angels, in Piazza del Duomo (position 19 on the map). Michelangelo probably took part in the design of the present Duomo.
Opposite the Duomo’s facade a little road, via Soncin, opens, leading to the area where the ancient Ghetto was located and connected to the heart of the city by the narrow roads on the left.
Not second by importance, the magnificent Palazzo della Ragione (also known as Salone).
The Salone (literally “large hall”) is one of the symbols of the town and used to be the meeting hall and Court of Justice during the Commune age.
Its building with the renewal of the contiguous Piazza dei Frutti (i.e. Fruit’s Square) and Piazza delle Erbe (i.e. Herbs’ Square) was the symbol of Padova’s political and cultural power.
The Salone is an architectural defeat to gravity, being a huge room (mt.81×27) on the upper floor standing on a column base. Giotto was called again in town to paint the internal walls with a superb astrological cycle based on the philosophical thoughts of Pietro d’Abano, one of the greatest medieval scientists, at the time internationally known for his thinking. Unfortunately the Salone took fire on 1420 under Venice government and local painters Nicolà Miretto e Stefano da Ferrara painted the rebuilt palace, trying to follow the original work. The hall also contains a giant wooden horse (1466) and a contemporary version of the Foucault’s Pendulum.
The three squares surrounding the palace, Piazza delle Erbe, Piazza della Frutta and Piazza dei Signori (literally Lord’s Square), are still the site of the daily market that takes place here since the Middle Ages.
On the south-west corner of Piazza dei Signori, the Loggia della Gran Guardia and the tower (Torre dell’Orologio) with its astronomical clock built on the 15th century, reproducing the original one dated 1344.
Walking back through the squares and along the Salone you can easily reach the old Palazzo del Bo (University building).
This is the main seat of the University, founded in 1222, that can name, among eminent faculty and scholars, astronomers Nicolaus Copernicus, who proved the sun to be the center of our planet system, and Galileo Galilei, anatomist and physicist William Harvey, who described blood circulation, and Gabriele Falloppius, philosophers Pomponazzi and Campanella, musician Tartini, writers Ugo Foscolo, Carlo Goldoni and Torquato Tasso, architect Leon Battista Alberti, Elena Lucrezia Cornaro Piscopia, the world’s first female graduate and Giacomo Casanova.
In the Old Coutyard and in the the Aula Magna you can still see students and professors’ coats of arms. Very interesting the visit to the Anatomy Theatre, the oldest fix anatomy theatre in the world, the 14th century Medicine Room and the Room of the Forty with Galileo’s chair.
A few steps further you can see one of the most important historical cafès, built between 1831 and 1836 by famous architect Giuseppe Jappelli in a mixture of neoclassic and neo-gothic styles, the Caffè Pedrocchi.
On the upper floor rooms and halls are decorated according to different themes and is now housed the Museum of the Risorgimento and Contemporary Time (Museo del Risorgimento e dell’Età Contemporanea).
Since its opening the “cafè without doors” welcomes eminent guests such as writer Stendhal, who named its desserts as some of the best he ever tried, as well as students who always spent hours in the reading room discussing all sorts of matters, sometimes producing innovative ideas, sometimes the revolution, as they did in 1848 during Asburgic domination.
Some other areas could allow you to discover less famous but not less interesting masterpieces.
The first area is Contrada Antenore, the area that develops between St. Lawrence’s Bridge (Ponte San Lorenzo) the roman bridge now laying under the street level, and Pontecorvo Gate (Porta Pontecorvo).
In via San Francesco you will find Palazzo Zabarella, ancient home of the powerful family, now site for temporary exhibitions; on the same side of the road, you’ll meet the little churches of the Oratorio di Santa Margherita and the Oratorio della Carità both beautifully frescoed.
Opposite the Oratorio della Carità, the medieval hospital site, the San Francesco complex.
Not far another beautiful little church, the Chiesa di Santa Caterina where composer Tartini rests.
Borgo Altinate stretches along via Altinate beginning at one of only medieval gate still intact Porta Altinate (position 29). This lively shopping road leads to San Gaetano building, the old Court of Justice, and to San Gaetano’s Church (Chiesa di San Gaetano – position 32), beautifully frescoed by baroque painter Vincenzo Scamozzi.
The walk continues between renaissance and baroque palaces until you meet romanesque Santa Sofia’s Church (Chiesa di Santa Sofia – position 33), the oldest in Padova, probably built over a Roman temple.
Via Dante used to be Strà Maggiore, the Main Street since the Romans but probably even before: it lays on the south-north axis beginning in Piazza dei Signori (position 18). A little detour to San Nicolò’s church (Chiesa di San Nicolò – position 22) and square allows you to see one of the most romantic spots in town.
Via Dante continues crossing corso Milano displaying venetian palaces and medieval towers, leading to the Mill Gate (Porta Molino – position 23). On the top of its tower Galileo set his observatory.
Over the medieval bridge, the Basilica del Carmine (position 24) and the adjacent Scoletta copletely frescoed.
A longer but not less interesting itinerary follows the venetian Walls and Gates: from Holy Cross Gate (Porta Santa Croce – position 45), to Porta San Giovanni (position 41), to Porta Savonarola (position 42), Porta Portello (position 35) where the ancient venitian port laid, through the old slaughter house (Cattedrale dell’Ex-Macello – position 37), now housing art exhibitions, to Porta Pontecorvo (position 7).
The ideal way to enjoy this route is by riding a bicycle since it partially lays along cycling routes. More information on how to hire a bicycle on Tourist Office Points (IAT Points).