The 7 wonders of Padua (a unique list of things to do in Padua)
As I promised in one of my latest posts, I’ll share with you 7 experiences and places that make you wonder why Padua – less than 30 minutes by train from Venice – is not yet on your radar!
Are you ready to discover the 7 wonders of Padua?
Things to do in Padua # 1 – Frescoes
Things to do in Padua # 2 – Squares & Markets
Things to do in Padua # 3 – Look up!
Things to do in Padua # 4 – The botanical garden
Things to do in Padua # 5 – The Spritz
Things to do in Padua # 6 – Historic shops & Street food
Things to do in Padua # 7 – A pioneer University
Things to do in Padua # 1
If you have a thing for frescoes, there is no better place than Padua. Here’s a list of jaw-dropping frescoes I visited.
It’s the most well-preserved Giotto’s masterpiece. I could stand in front of it for hours:
To visit the Chapel, remember to book in advance; here you can find all the infos.
Oratory of Saint George
I really enjoyed this visit because I’ve found myself surrounded by striking frescoes with no one around. Just me and the art. Amazing.
Many tourists don’t know they can enter inside the Oratory, so they miss out on this gem. Lesson learned for you? Better to follow my blog 😉
Just next to the Oratory, there is Scuola del Santo where you can admire Tiziano (Titian) paintings.
The Baptistery of the Cathedral
The Baptistery is relatively small; that’s why, when I entered I was moved by the beautiful explosion of colors around me:
The Palace of the Reason
The Palace is enormous in size; the huge roof looks like an upturned boat. Stunning.
The frescoes inside depict how professions and emotions of the human being are influenced by planets according to the astrological theories in the Middle Ages.
Want more? Here you are:
- Diocesano Museum: frescoes inside the small, but charming Chapel of St. Mary of the Angels and inside the huge Bishops’ Hall
- Frescoes inside the Eremitani Church
- Frescoes inside the Basilica of Saint Anthony: inside pictures aren’t allowed, otherwise I would show you the beautiful ceiling painted as a sky full of stars. Here’s the Basilica from outside:
Things to do in Padua # 2
Squares & Markets
Padua has many squares.
Maybe, the reason is to have enough space for the markets Indeed, almost every day, there is a market in Padua!
So, if you want to buy fresh fruits, flowers or if you just want to wander around Padua’s lovely squares and markets like the locals have been doing since 800 years (yes, the tradition of markets in Padua is very old!), these are the places for you:
– Piazza delle Erbe and Piazza della Frutta: amazing colors
– Piazza del Duomo
– Piazza dei Signori
– Prato della Valle: so romantic at the sunset
Things to do in Padua # 3
I love travel guidebooks, but sometimes I have the impression they all say the same things, don’t you agree?
That’s why, I like to share tips that only those who really know a place can give.
So, next tip for Padua is: look up!
Regardless if indoor or outdoor, this city has a lot to offer up there: look up to admire beautiful balconies and windows. Their architecture reflects Padua’s historical ties with other cities and Republics, like the Republic of Venice:
And then, look up to discover the explosion of colors and decorations on the ceilings inside all historic buildings:
Things to do in Padua # 4
The botanical garden
As you enter the botanical garden, you’ll find yourself immersed in an unexpected setting.
Why unexpected? Because the garden is in the heart of Padua, but completely hidden by the surrounding buildings, that it’s difficult to imagine that this green oasis exists.
It’s a UNESCO site, it’s the oldest university botanical garden in the world, and it hosts 7.000 plants.
Here you can wander among fountains and statues, while enjoying an incredibly quiet atmosphere.
During your visit, I suggest you dedicate enough time both to the historical garden and to the biodiversity garden.
In the historical garden (created in 1545), you can admire old plants, like the mediterranean palm planted in 1585. You can see also unusual plants like carnivorous and poisonous plants.
The biodiversity garden is like a journey through the Earth’s vegetation and climates. This modern building simulates the climate conditions of the planet from tropical to arid and temperate zones. There are so many large wild plants that it seems they will soon grow outside the building. A unique experience, especially if you have kids.
Things to do in Padua #5
The Spritz is the most iconic Italian cocktail.
There is a close link between the Spritz and Padua’s history and, nowadays, this drink is part of the local habits. For the aperitivo, all the squares in Padua are alive with people hanging out, talking and drinking the Spritz.
The Spritz was born in Veneto region (where Padua is located) at the beginning of 1800 during the Austrian dominion. At that time, the taste of Venetian wines was considered too strong by Austrian soldiers; so, they used to ask to “spritzen” (in English “spray”) sparkling water into the wine.
Later on, the mix of white wine with sparkling water and with bitter became officially the Spritz as we know it today.
If you want to know more (and apply 😉) the art of the Italian aperitivo, then this book is for you: “Spritz: Italy’s Most Iconic Aperitivo Cocktail, with Recipes”. It’s a must-have, especially to get inspiration from creative and simple recipes for dinners or events with friends. It inspired me many times!
If you click through this link to buy this book on Amazon, I’ll get a small commission from Amazon, at no cost for you.
Things to do in Padua # 6
Historic shops & Street food
Did you know that in Padua there are historic shops older than 200 years?
As you enter these shops, it’s like a jump in another era:
– Ai due catini d’oro (Piazza della Frutta): it’s the oldest one in Padua, it was established in 1775! At that time, Ai due catini d’oro was one of the shops where the merchants gathered to trade their goods. It’s small, however, inside you can find everything: candies, spices, traditional liquor and many many other things!
– Zin e De Lucia (Via Gorizia, 2): here you’ll find hats, hats and again hats from vintage to modern style. Cool! The couple Zin e De Lucia started in 1879 to sell their hats with a small cart pulled by horses and in 1920 they moved to this shop that is still owned by their descendants.
– Caffè Pedrocchi (Via VIII Febbraio, 15): this café was established in 1831 and it has been, since the very beginning, the favorite place of Italian and European artists, writers and intellectuals.
The history of Caffé Pedrocchi is linked to the history of Italy’s unification. Here on February 8th 1848, the riot against the Austrian dominion started. Inside the café, you can still see a hole in the wall made by a bullet fired by an Austro-Hungarian soldier at the students taking part in the riot.
– Pasticceria Ballico (Corso Vittorio Emanuele II 181): if you want something sweet, head to Pasticceria Ballico, established in 1903 by Giacomino Ballico. The shop is still owned by his descendants; as you enter, you feel how much they love what they do and you feel it, even more, when you try their pastries, cookies and cakes.
– Emporio Botanico Zorzi (Via Marsilio da Padova 26/28): if you love flowers and plants, stop in this shop established in 1828. You’ll be enchanted by the colorful decorations in their shop window. Inside, it’s like a journey through fragrances and colors.
Coming back to the present days, in Padua there are also many places where you can try local street food. Which are my favorites?
No doubt, La Folperia and Bigoi.
La Folperia is a street food stand where you can try local recipes of fish and seafood. I took folpetti, a fresh small octopus boiled in water with salt, bay leaf and red wine. They are served with a special dressing. Simple, but delicious. Believe me, you must try La Folperia.
You can find the stand in Piazza della Frutta from around 5 pm to 9 pm from Wednesday to Sunday. Don’t go too late, otherwise you’ll find nothing left to eat (I’m not joking😉)!
Bigoi (Via Umberto I, 6): have you ever tried bigoli pasta? It’s a typical pasta of Veneto region. If you want to try it, go to Bigoi. I love the way in which they turned a local dish into street food, without losing the tradition.
Things to do in Padua #7
A pioneer University
The University of Padua was founded in 1222 (it’s the world’s fifth-oldest university). Its “heart” is the stunning Palazzo del Bo.
I’ve included Padua University on this list not only for the beauty of Palazzo del Bo, but also for the pioneer role this University had: the first where a woman graduated in 1678, the first to allow anatomy lectures with human bodies and, last but not least, a university where figures like Galileo Galilei made discoveries that changed scientific history of humanity.
Inside Palazzo del Bo, you can see:
– the Aula Magna
– Galileo’s desk from where he gave his lectures
– the Hall of the Forty
– the anatomical theatre where, until 19th century, anatomy was studied with human bodies
If you have a thing for astronomy, you should also visit La Specola, the old astronomic observatory of Padua University. It now belongs to the National Institute of Astrophysics; part of it has been turned into an astronomy museum and, from the top, you can enjoy the view of the city.
So, are you ready to visit Padua? Have you been inspired? Below you can leave your comment, it’s a pleasure to read your messages! Here you’ll find some additional tips 😉
How to reach Padua from Venice? The easiest way is by train. The high-speed train takes less than 30 minutes; that’s why, if you stay in Venice, Padua can be a good idea for a trip. Click on this link to check train schedule.
Any other useful information?
– To save money, you can buy Padova Card that grants free entrances in most of the places I’ve mentioned plus discounts and free public transportation. For more information, click here.
– For more info about opening hours and admission fee of the places mentioned in the chapter “Things to do in Padua # 1 Frescoes”, read this post
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