Only a 30 minute train ride from Venice, Padua (Padova in Italian) is a pleasant day trip and often overlooked in favor of her well-known neighbor. After arriving by train, you can easily walk from the station to several of Padua’s sites and walk or catch a tram back in time to catch your train back to Venice in time for an apertivo.
Padua has much to boast about. Despite her deep ancestral roots and heritage, Padua has a contemporary and youthful vibe. This can be attributed partly to being home to the distinguished Universita degli Studi di Padova, established in 1222. As Italy’s second oldest university, the University of Padua’s faculty and alumni have included such notables as Copernicus, Galileo, and even Casanova. (Now, wouldn’t you have loved to have attended one of his lectures?)
Enjoy an espresso break nearby and just enjoy people watching. Of course, window shopping is also quite enjoyable…especially since most of the sidewalks are sheltered under loggias and many of the streets are pedestrian only.
I happen to love local markets and I didn’t want to miss visiting Padua’s. Twin piazzas of Piazza delle Erbe and Piazza della Frutta are where the freshest and finest seasonal produce of the region is offered daily. Strolling up and down aisle after aisle, you are greeted by vendors proudly displaying row upon row of neatly arranged fruits, vegetables and locally produced “typico” foodstuffs. We’re tempted to feel and squeeze, but look but don’t touch is the rule in markets here.
Locals navigate their bicycles, laden with their bounty…bags filled not only with produce but with delicacies from the fantastic bakeries, cheese shops, and meat shops lining the loggias of the piazzas. It’s hard to resist picking up a few local specialties and we’re in luck as we search for a place to enjoy our bounty…
Heading toward the Basilica of Saint Anthony, you will come upon the magnificent Prato della Valle. Reputed to be the largest piazzas in Italy and one of the largest in Europe, it is elliptical in shape with over 70 statues surrounding its circumference. Crossing over the moat-like canal, to L’Isola Memmia, you are welcomed to a lovely park and fountain. What more perfect spot for a stroll, a picnic…or maybe a nap?
We settle for a picnic before visiting the St. Anthony’s Basilica of Padua (Basilica Pontificia di Sant’Antonio), long a destination for pilgrims and devotees from all over the world.
The Basilica is impressive and splendid. Upon entering, we are asked to observe the requests for silence and no photos…it’s serenely quiet and calm…peaceful, a welcome sanctuary. This is a special visit for me and really why I came to Padua, as an homage to my Mother who loved St. Anthony. It’s a special moment I will always remember and cherish.
I hope you will enjoy these snippets from a day in Padua…I think it belongs on your bucket list, don’t you?
Have you been to Padua? What did you enjoy about it? What would you share with someone visiting for the first time?