"Padua: 'It just goes on and on...'" Padova by leics
Padova Travel Guide: 638 reviews and 1,746 photos
Oh, we *did* like Padova! We had a super day there wandering and exploring.
The farmer's wife (FW) decided she was not very taken with Venice, so the next day we took the Padova train from Mestre. It's only about 20 minutes, so it's an easy journey.
From the moment we crossed over the Bacchiglione river on the way into town, and came across the rather lovely Giardino dell'Arena to the time,m hours later, when we were finally wended our weary way back to the station we thoroughly enjoyed the town.
As the FW said 'You never know what's round the corner in Padova!'
Narrow Medieval streets, arcades, tiny squares, majestic buildings, ancient churches, a superb street market and...eventually...the largest piazza I've yet come across in Italy, the Prato delle Valle (on the site of the Roman amphitheatre)...said the be the second biggest in Europe. Padova has it all, and more.
If the FW was more into historical buildings I'd have done much more exploring (this is why I prefer to take her to places I've already visited alone!). But she isn't, and so we only managed a couple of churches during the day. Instead, we did lots of gentle wandering, looking into shop windows, scouring the market for bargains (and finding them!), looking at the buildings and just getting a feel for the place. And that's just as good, imo.
We liked Padova because it felt 'real' ...an ordinary working town with a thriving university population and not many visitors (at least, we didn't come across many). There were still the school groups which seem to dog me wherever I go (because I travel in European school holidays) but these school groups were all Italian.
Padova (Padua) is supposed to be northern Italy's oldest city, supposedly founded by one Antenor, a Trojan prince. Of course it went through its 'Roman' period and subsequent conquerings by various peoples...including the Magyars, from Hungary...but its chief claim to fame is, perhaps, its university. Founded in 1222, the second in Italy, it became famous throughout Europe as a seat of learning.
And it was Padova's university which created the very first academic botanical gardens, in 1545. You can still visit...and we did...and see the gardens much as they have always been, including a palm tree which was planted in 1585 and admired by the poet Goethe. Stand in Goethe's footsteps and admire it yourself!
You can see the remnants of Padova's past clearly as you wander. Apart from the churches there are early Medieval buildings dotted all around, and many narrow streets which still adhere to their Medieval layout.
The city was, of course, originally walled (in the 13th century and then in the 1500s...the latter walls being 11km long) but little now remains: just a few ruins and a couple of gateways from the earlier walls. Its setting within a loop of the Bacchiglione means there are some lovely river views.
We didn't have time to properly do Padova justice, I'm afraid. We spent too long ferreting through the market stalls (we visited on a Tuesday), too long enjoying a beer in the sunshine in a quiet square and too long enjoying the botanical gardens.
But that's easily sorted out; I'll just have to make a return visit in future! :-)
- Pros:Lots of history in a 'real' working town
- Cons:None that I came across
- In a nutshell:Well worth a daytrip!
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