Padua, one of the oldest cities in Italy, is very close to
Terre Bianche. As a historic city of great charm, it is comparable to a
treasure chest of a unique artistic and cultural heritage. Tourists from
all over the world are mesmerized by its architecture, the walls,
churches, squares and palaces of incomparable beauty.
Padua is known as Città di Gran Dottori, the city of important graduates, thanks to its prestigious University. Founded in 1222, it is one of the oldest universities of the world.
The Tuscan scientist Galileo Galilei lived and taught here from 1592 to 1610. The Anatomical Theatre of the university commissioned and designed by Girolamo Fabrici d'Acquapendente dates back to 1594. Definitely the oldest one in Europe, it is perfectly preserved.
The Palazzo del Bo, seat of the old University, houses a statue of Elena Lucrezia Cornaro Piscopia, the first woman in the world to get a degree in Philosophy in 1678.
Starting from 1932, a new wing was built around a courtyard called Cortile Nuovo or Cortile Littorio. The renovations were carried out by the talented and famous architect Gio Ponti with the collaboration of numerous 20th century artists who contributed with sculptures and frescoes to decorate the new wing where the academic apartments and the Rectorate are located.
Noteworthy is the statue of Palinuro (1947) by Arturo Martini, which is dedicated to a partisan commander, and represents a tribute to the Resistance. Frescoes and mosaics by painters such as Filippo De Pisis, Achille Funi, Ferruccio Ferrazzi and Gino Severini can be admired in the rooms of the Bo. In 1995, on a wall of the Cortile Nuovo Jannis Kounellis created the sculpture Resistance and Liberation, which evokes the struggle against Fascism and the liberation of Italy.
Close to the University is the Caffè Pedrocchi, also called “Café without doors” because it remained open day and night from its inauguration in 1831 until 1916. The café, one of the symbols of Padua, owes its international and unquestionable reputation for its historical importance during the Italian Risorgimento. On February 8, 1848, following the wounding of a university student inside the café, the Italian Risorgimento uprisings began. It is also famous for its coffee with mint cream and its many neoclassical rooms.
The Palazzo della Ragione (seat of the Court in the 13th century) known also as Il Salone
was built in 1218 and later enlarged by Giovanni degli Eremitani in
1306. He raised the hall and built its roof in the very characteristic
shape of an overturned ship’s hull. Inside there is an incredibly large
suspended hall completely frescoed with a very rare medieval
astrological cycle. Since in Medieval times it was the seat of the
Court, there are also frescoes that allegorically represent Justice and
Law such as the Judgement of Solomon. On the ground floor there is still
a large attractive covered market that sells local culinary excellence.
The cycle of frescoes by Giotto at the Scrovegni Chapel (early 14th century) represents the birth of modern painting and is one of the masterpieces of Western art.
Other famous artists such as Giusto da Menabuoi, Guariento, Donatello and Mantegna chose to work in Padua.
The Botanical Garden of Padua, founded in 1545, was listed as a cultural asset in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1997. To add splendor to the garden a modern structure was built to host a Biodiversity Garden.
The Loggia Cornaro, built in 1524, is an enchanting architecture designed by Giovanni Maria Falconetto. It was a space dedicated to theatrical performances. Here the first Society of professional comedians was born, creating the ground of Commedia dell’Arte.
Also, William Shakespeare set his comedy The Taming of the Shrew in Padua.
The Basilica of St. Anthony represents a pilgrimage destination of Christianity and is known by locals simply by the name Il Santo, the Saint. Inside there are sculptures by Donatello, frescos by Andrea Mantegna and numerous works of other important artists.
The Prato della Valle, the second largest square in Europe after Moscow’s Red Square, is a charming place to walk around while admiring the historic buildings that surround it, and the imposing Basilica of St. Justina. This elliptical-shaped square is adorned with 78 statues of prominent figures of Padua such as Galileo Galilei and Antenore, the Trojan hero founder of the city.