A traditional dialect rhyme describes Padova as having a meadow without grass, a saint without a name and a café without doors.
The meadow without grass is Prato della Valle, one of Europe’s largest squares. The current configuration of Prato della Valle dates from 1775 when a marshy area was reclaimed. At the centre is a large elliptical island surrounded by a canal and decorated with 78 statues of famous people associated with Padova. There are many sculptures around the canal representing historic personalities from culture and the arts. People go there to practise sports and on Saturday it is transformed into an evocative market.
The saint without a name refers to the basilica dedicated to Saint Anthony, known by the city’s inhabitants simply as “il Santo” (the Saint). Built in the 13th century, it contains numerous works of artistic value. Its silhouette, with oriental style bell towers, stands out majestically against the sky, a characteristic feature of the city’s horizon.
The café without doors is the Caffè Pedrocchi, built in 1826 to a design by Jappelli. It was described as without doors as it represented a “refuge” ever ready to welcome travellers and intellectuals. A place to meet and talk, it is animated by concerts, exhibitions and conferences. But the city goes on and on, in squares and corners which tell its history, in historic buildings which reveal its art, in streets which year after year welcome students and accompany them during their stay.
The Scrovegni Chapel, built at the beginning of the 14th century, is a masterpiece. Giotto’s cycle of frescoes depicts episodes in the life of Mary and Christ, bringing the places, customs and costumes of his time to life through the study of perspective and colour.
The street known as the Liston, or via VIII Febbraio, joins the City Hall, the Caffè Pedrocchi and Palazzo del Bo, the original University building. This is where new graduates begin their graduation celebration.
The Palazzo della Ragione, built in 1218, is known by the inhabitants of Padova as “Il Salone”, as the top floor is a single large room. It was once the City Tribunal. Repainted after the fire in 1420, the interior frescoes take up the astrological themes of Pietro D’Abano. The ground floor is occupied by shops and an evocative covered market takes place under its arcades. The Palazzo della Ragione is surrounded by Piazza dei Signori, Piazza della Frutta and Piazza delle Erbe in the heart of the historic city centre, which each morning are filled with the scents and flavours of the marketplace and the sounds and colours of the stands.
The nearby Piazza dei Signori is attractively enclosed by historic buildings. On the West side, Palazzo del Capitanio (1599-1605) incorporates the Torre dell'Orologio with its astronomical clock dating from 1344. The arch is by G.M. Falconetto. Beyond the Arco dell'Orologio is Piazza Capitaniato with the building of the University Arts Faculty, the Liviano. It incorporates the Sala dei Giganti with frescoes dating from the 16th century.
Between 'Prato della Valle' and the Basilica there is the "Orto Botanico" (1545), with exotic flowers and plants. The Botanical Garden of Padua is the original of all botanical gardens throughout the world, and represents the birth of science, of scientific exchanges, and understanding of the relationship between nature and culture. It has made a profound contribution to the development of many modern scientific disciplines, notably botany, medicine, chemistry, ecology, and pharmacy. For this reasons it has been under UNESCO’s patronage since 1997.
For more details and pictures please check the official Padova website
Information and free city maps are available at Tourist Information Office, in Galleria Pedrocchi, behind Caffè Pedrocchi, near Palazzo Bo and City Hall.
Opening hours: Monday - Saturdays 9am - 7pm. Closed on Sundays.
IAT - Tourist Information Offices
Galleria Pedrocchi Tel. 049/8767927
Click here to download a nice photo overviwe on Padova and its surroundings
GETTING AROUND PADOVA
• by taxi www.taxipadova.com
Taxis can be found in front of the Railway Station or call 0039 049 651333.
• by tram - public transport APS www.tramdipadova.it
• by bus - public transport APS http://www.apsholding.it
The tickets for the APS buses (local buses) and tram are available:
- at the APS office outside the railway station
- at the ticket machine outside the railway station
- at most tobacconist shops in town
3-4 day tickets (Padovacard) and any other types of bus tickets are available at the APS office outside the railway station and also at the Tourist Office in Galleria Pedrocchi, tel. +39 049 8767927 (Monday-Saturday 9.00-13.00 15.00-19.00)
• by car
If you drive your own car, you need to be particularly careful in the Padova urban area. Many cities and towns have introduced restricted areas in their centres where driving is authorized only to residents or to individuals staying at a Hotel. Drivers should pay attention to posted signs and be careful not to enter areas of limited traffic, which are marked by signs "ZTL", in Padova these zones are controlled by video cameras. If your hotel is located in the "ZTL", make sure that the hotel has previously sent a fax to the local authorities providing the approximate time of your arrival by car. Check the hotel position in internet and ask them to assure your safe arrival to their car park
Click here for Padova map download
Please check http://wikitravel.org/en/Padova to get some more information about the city!