"Where time stood still..." Arqua Petrarca by mapakettle

Arqua Petrarca Travel Guide: 29 reviews and 47 photos

Wonderful little medievel town...

Ma Kettle and I had been told countless times that we should visit Arqua Petrarca, located about 21 km south of Padova, deep within the Euganean Hills.

There was a lady Ma met on her bus, who, for weeks, had promised to take her to visit her home town, and continued to constantly praise the community she grew up in. Unfortunately, at one point, this lady stopped boarding the bus at her usual time, and we hope that she simply changed jobs, or received a promotion. Other reasons we prefer not to even consider.

Arqua Petrarca is a beautiful little medieval town, perfectly preserved, with stone surfaces everywhere you look, dotted with colourful potted plants and flowers, which adorn every home or store front. The streets are spotless, carefully swept, and no trash or litter was in evidence the day of our visit.

Francesco Petrarca, the poet

Arqua Petrarca is named after the poet Francesco Petrarca, who lived here from 1369, until his death in 1374. To me, naming the town after some fellow who wrote poems for a living, especially after living there for such a short time, is a bit of a stretch, but hey, whatever works. I'll bet there was a pretty lively debate in the town hall the night that proposition was put forth. However, the powers to be declared it to be so, therefore the name remains today. In fact, so does Mr. Petrarca.

His body can be found within a tomb constructed of red marble, imported from Vicenza. The tomb occupies the centre of the courtyard of the church of St. Maria. This church square was the gathering place of children and local families for many years, which makes me question the wisdom of placing a body smack dab in the centre of it.

An odd piece of info though, in doing a bit of research on Petrarca, it had been said that he was unusually tall for that era (1.83 meters), so his skull was removed in order to reconstruct his cranium, and obtain a computerized image of his features. In doing so, a DNA testing in 2004, proved that the skull found in the casket, in fact, did not belong to Petrarca.


There was quite a hue and cry over this slight oversight, and the return of the skull was promptly demanded by Arqua Petrarca authorities. So, I suppose the question remains, who is the house guest within this beautiful red marble tomb?

A bit of a climb...

I loved wandering about this little town. Pride in community is very evident, and certainly the touristry stuff is present, but less so than with most towns dependent upon tourism. Just to see the cobblestone streets, the well kept stone work, the beautiful walls of brick and rock, it's just wonderful... The old part of town is built on an incline, so be prepared for lots of climbing. The parking area is located at the foot of the town, and there is an uphill climb just to reach the town portals. Consider it to be about five minutes of a casual, but vigorous climb. I found little in the way of benches to sit at during our exploring, but discovered a couple of water fountains placed here and there, free for the asking.

If you are wheelchair bound, or troubled with hip or knee problems, I strongly suggest you give Arqua Petrarca a pass. The streets are very narrow, and traffic is closed to all but locals. This does not prevent the noisy and intrusive, always present Vespa's, from zipping about, and with many blind corners and sudden rises, it is wise to keep your children in close proximity. This is a thriving and working community, not Disney World, so everyday life continues.

There are numerous little enotecas dotted along the way, with locally made wines, honey, etc., all offered for sale with a smile, and served with great confidence. Do compare pricing, as we noticed a discrepancy from store to store.

A typical bottle of wine might cost the shopper 4.-5 euro. I sampled some vino purely for research purposes, and, I'm pleased to say, it was worth a second purchase.

And now, a pleasant surprise awaits. For everyone of you who walked up this incline, you receive, free of charge, one coupon, which entitles you to a leisurely stroll back to the parking lot...all downhill. Enjoy.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:very clean, retaining much of the medievel feel
  • Cons:small, would feel confining after two full days
  • In a nutshell:great place to set up home base, and travel to other places from
  • Last visit to Arqua Petrarca: Jun 2005
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (18)

Comments (10)

  • VeronicaG's Profile Photo
    Apr 23, 2006 at 9:42 AM

    I had to stop by for a taste of Italy once again--Arqua Petrarca is such a lovely medieval town!!

  • aussirose's Profile Photo
    Sep 25, 2005 at 3:12 AM

    Hey Pa. What a quaint place. I just love those cute cobblestone streets. Tell Ma I love the pic of her and Paola :o) Oh....and I don't blame you not owning a motor vehicle these days with the soaring cost of fuel!! Cheers, Ann :o)

  • alza's Profile Photo
    Aug 6, 2005 at 8:24 AM

    lovely travelogue! the corner house built to last embodies the town: no pretense, simply beautiful and solid. Back later for more!

  • iandsmith's Profile Photo
    Jul 3, 2005 at 11:06 PM

    I'm losing my faith in you. You indicate you were doing vino research yet nowhere are your results shown! Not only that you said wine was made by hand when it obviously comes from grapes. Not good enough.

  • croisbeauty's Profile Photo
    Jul 1, 2005 at 3:19 AM

    There are so many little gems in Veneto, I wish I have more time to see all

  • Kajron's Profile Photo
    Jun 28, 2005 at 1:10 AM

    I stayed there many times, last time I did with mountainbike Torreglia-Valsanzibio-Arquà, wonderful place to do with bike. Have you tasted GIUGGIOLE??

  • sandysmith's Profile Photo
    Jun 25, 2005 at 1:58 PM

    places such as this is Italy at its natural best..and the vino of course!

  • Wendy67's Profile Photo
    Jun 23, 2005 at 1:32 PM

    A medieval village with a mystery. Very cool! When I visit Italy, I hope we can meander over for a visit. The B&Bs look lovely. I noticed many stops for vino sampling among your pages. ;)

  • Callavetta's Profile Photo
    Jun 16, 2005 at 11:36 AM

    Had to check in on those who are living my dream life! What a lovely little town. I'm so glad to see that you are keeping up your duty of sampling the local wines. It's a tough job but.......

  • keida84's Profile Photo
    Jun 15, 2005 at 11:00 AM

    Pa, Very nice pages on Arqua Petrarca. I like the tomb in the middle of the town, at least they removed his head after he was dead!! I hope you did not buy any potporrui?! LOL, Enjoyable reading ,Kat (Spelling tip, Pa? Did I scr*w up again?) hahaha


“creases merely show where your smiles begin”

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