Padua (Italian: Padova, French: Padoue, Latin: Patavium) is a city in North Eastern Italy, and the capital of the province of the same name. It is located centrally in the Veneto region, between Venezia on one side and Vicenza and Verona on the other. The city itself has 210,821 inhabitants (2001), with about 350,000 inhabitants in the wider metropolitan area.
Padua is a central railway node in the Veneto area. Many lines converge into the city central station, notably from:
- Venezia (Venice, Trieste, and points East) - Venice is only a 30-minute ride away
- Bologna (Bologna, Ferrara, Rovigo, Rome, Florence) one hour and half ride
- Milano (Milan, Brescia, Verona, Vicenza) two hours and half minute ride
- Castelfranco (Belluno, Calalzo, Feltre) 45 minute ride
Padua has its own airport for private planes, but with no direct commercial connections. However, three international airports are conveniently located nearby:
- Venezia Marco Polo (VCE) , 50 km, lot of destinations throughout Europe.
- Treviso (TSF) , 42 km, low-cost airport with Ryanair and other carriers. Destinations: Dublin, London, Frankfurt, Brussels, Barcelona, Paris
- Verona Valerio Catullo (VRN) , 88 km, many domestic flights and some international destinations (also low-cost)
- by train + bus
Other options further afield include:
- Brescia Gabriele D'Annunzio (VBS) , 130 km
- Bergamo Orio al Serio (BGA) , 190 km, many low-cost flights
- Bologna Guglielmo Marconi (BLQ) , 120 km
Padova is connected through the national highway network
- A4 - Turin-Milan-Venice-Trieste
- A13 - Bologna-Padua
Many national/regional roads originate in or pass through the city:
- SS11 Padana Superiore
- SS16 Adriatica
- SS47 Valsugana
- SR516 Piovese
- SR307 del Santo
Discovering the city on foot is very easy. The historic center is not very big, so you can go around in the narrow streets.
Padua, luckily, is quite a flat city. Apart from the few roman bridges and some -not very steep- streets, you will not find any hills to hike! Especially in the city center, most of the streets are narrow and quiet and the terrain is sometimes made of pavé or cobblestones. In some areas, the cobbling is such that it would be unsuitable for standard road bicycles. Outside the narrow streets, a bike lane is sometimes available. In the near Riviera del Brenta you can hire bikes at local shops, with free delivery services at your hotel, for make excursions in Padova region.
APS Mobilità (ex-ACAP, call center: +39 049 20111) runs the only tramway line of the city, based on the rubber-tired TransLohr vehicle.
The line SIR1, entered service with passengers on March, 24th 2007. The route is Stazione F.S. (Piazzale Stazione) - Trieste - Eremitani - Ponti Romani - Tito Livio - Santo - Prato della Valle - Cavalletto DX - Diaz - Santa Croce - Cavallotti - Bassanello - Sacchetti/Assunta - Cuoco - Guizza - Capolinea Sud.
This line is very useful for tourists because it stops near various monuments, museums and local landmarks like Santo Basilica, Eremitani Civic Museums, Cappella degli Scrovegni, Prato della Valle, Santa Giustina Basilica, Botanic Garden, central squares. (The stops for each of these are in bold above.)
The line is northbound-southbound, travel time 22 minutes from terminus to terminus. The tram runs every 8 minutes during weekdays daytime, 10 at early evening, 30 at late evening, every 20–15 minutes on Sundays from 7.07 till 0.20.
APS Mobilità (ex-ACAP, call center: +39 049 20111) runs a network of local transport that covers the main areas of the city as well as some suburbs.
- lines with numbers are urban and sub-urban, as well as Minibus (Diretto Piazze-Diretto Duomo-Circolare Antenore) and LIS
- lines with letters A-M-T-AM-AT are connecting Padova to the Abano Terme and Montegrotto Terme Spa area.
Many lines run on the two main axes in the centre: North-South and East-West. Many of them terminate at the train station, which is also the main node of the bus network. Apart from the tramway, the most frequent are lines 10 and 3.
Fares: See here for an up-to-date list of prices: APS
- 75 minutes urban ticket € 1,20 (checked April 2012)
- 75 minutes urban tickets carnet (x18) € 20,00 (checked April 2012)
- family urban ticket € 3,00 (checked April 2012)
- daily ticket € 2,70
- weekly 'ticket' € 9,00
- 90 minutes sub-urban ticket € 1,10
- 90 minutes sub-ubran carnet (x12) € 12,00
- 1 zone extra-urban ticket € 1,30 (checked April 2012)
- 2 zone extra-urban ticket € 1,50 (checked April 2012)
- 3 zone extra-urban ticket € 2,40 (checked April 2012)
Getting around by car in the city center can be very difficult. During peak hours traffic jams are frequent. And if you want to see the city center, apart from the narrow streets and pedestrian zones, a traffic limited zone has been established from 8AM till 8PM and cameras on several entrance points control the access: those who are not authorized will get a fine. It is useful to park your car in one of several parking lots or on the park areas on the streets, then take a bus or walk from there. More info can be found (in Italian) on website.
The Padua Card allows you to visit most churches and all museums as well as to use the public transport for €15.
- Saint Anthony's cathedral (Basilica di Sant'Antonio), Piazza del Santo (limited traffic area,parking in Prato della Valle+free shuttle bus line n° 3-8-11-12-13-16-18-22-32-43-Minibus Piazze-A-M-T and tramway line 1 stop "Basilica del Santo"-"Santa Giustina"-"Prato della Valle"), ☎ +39 0498789722, e-mail: email@example.com. Every day, 6.20 - 19.00 (DST 19.45). Saint Anthony's Basilica is the best-known tourist site in Padova - millions of pilgrims visit every year. Built immediately after "The Saint's" death in the 1200s, it houses his tomb and notable relics. The statues and crucifix on the main altar are by Donatello, as is the statue of horse and rider in the square in front of the church (called "Gattamelata" - "the honeyed cat"). Free entrance.
- Oratorio de San Giorgio. A beautiful, frescoed, and generally empty hall on the south side of the piazza next to the Basilica di Sant'Antonio. The paintings were done by two of Giotto's students, and though they are not as magnificent as those in the Capella degli Scrovegni, you can sit down and gaze at them undisturbed for as long as you like. Admission €2.50.
- Scrovegni Chapel (Cappella degli Scrovegni), Corso Garibaldi (parking near bus station, bus lines n° 3-8-9-10- (stop "Corso Garibaldi") 7-9-4-15 (stop "Piazzale Boschetti")), ☎ +39 0492010020. Every day, 9.00-19.00. The Chapel is in the north of the city center, not far from the bus and train stations. The walls and ceilings are covered in frescos by Giotto, completed in 1303-1305. The chapel has been well preserved and the art is very impressive. Some of the techniques used were well ahead of their time. A must-see for art and art history fans. €12 full price, €5 student price (including Eremitani Civic Museum and Contemporary Art Museum).
- Notice: Reserve your ticket/timeslot in advance or go very early. In the off-season, the wait from purchase to first available timeslot is about 4 hours unless you arrive before the hordes; in summer it's probably even longer. When you are admitted, you will be held for 15 minutes in a antechamber to lower body humidity which would otherwise damage the frescoes. During this time, you'll see a documentary presenting the chapel and its history. Then you will be allowed 15 minutes to see the frescoes before being shepherded out.
- At 90.000 square meters, Prato della Valle is the biggest square in Europe and probably one of the most beautiful in the World. Historically a Roman theater and later a fairground, it was redone in 1775 to the present layout: a large central grassy area, surrounded by a statue-lined canal, then a broad expanse of flagstones before a couple lanes of traffic are allowed to trickle around it in the distance. Saturdays the square hosts a giant market. Other large events occur frequently (concerts, fairs, etc.). The area around the canal is well-used by joggers, bikers, and rollerbladers. The square is also a great place to sit in the evening, relaxing and watching the world go by. The statues appear to have been placed precisely to be good backrests.
- Santa Giustina Basilica is along one side of Prato della Valle. When you visit, don't miss the Martyr's Hallway off of the right-front corner of the basilica.
- Roman ruins, including an Arena. The Arena is smaller and less impressive than those in Verona or Rome, but well-located in a lovely and well-maintained park. About three quarters of the Arena walls remain; the rest were removed to make way for the Scrovegni Chapel and Scrovegni Palace (the latter now long gone). In summertime, open-air movies are shown in the Arena.
- Chiesa Eremitani (near Scrovegni's Chapel). The church with an unusual wooden ceiling was badly damaged in WWII, and much of its artwork was destroyed, but what remains is beautiful.
- The Duomo, or cathedral, is smaller than the two basilicas but not by much - don't be misled by the relatively small façade on Piazza del Duomo. Michaelangelo was involved in the cathedral's design. Inside, there are some surprisingly modern touches among the statues and artwork. The duomo is mostly known for its baptistry which is filled with frescoes in late medieval style.
- Note: The cathedral closes during lunch, with no visible hours posted beside the doors. If they're closed, try again later.
- Next door to the cathedral is the Baptistry, with impressive frescos by Giotto.
- Astronomic Observatory (La Specola), 5, Vicolo dell'Osservatorio (bus n° 12 or 18, stop "Via P. Paoli", turn to via S. Alberto Magno to reach the Specola tower), ☎ +39 0498759840, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Sa-Su 11.00-16.00 (18.00 May-Oct).. Although the observatory was build after Galileo's time in Padua, you'll learn a lot about his significance for the research in Padua. You reach the top of the tower after a lecture of about one hour and can enjoy the view. Tickets at the Oratorio S. Michele, Piazzetta S. Michele, 1: 50 meters from the Specola, through the arcade on the right before the little bridge.
- Palazzo della Ragione. The large building located between Piazza della Frutta and Piazza delle Erbe. Its ground floor hosts small market shops. The upper floor is a single large hall housing artwork and occasional exhibitions.
- Jewish Ghetto (between Piazza della Frutta, the Duomo, and via Roma). Characterized by narrow streets and many small art galleries and bars where to enjoy a "spritz".
- Palazzo del Bo', The main university building. Padua's university is the second oldest in Italy (founded 1222). Gallileo taught at the university in the late 1500s/early 1600s..
- Botanic Garden. The world's oldest still operating botanic garden, operated by the University of Padua, and on the UNESCO World Heritage list since 1997. It isn't a large garden, but subtly laid out to swallow groups of people and give the impression of solitude. Do not miss the carnivorous plants, or the wooded hill at the southeast corner mounted by a double helix pair of paths. Admission ranges from free (for some university students) to €1 (for other university students) to €4-5 for everyone else.
- Most of the City walls of Padua have been made into the borders of people's back yards, but you can still roughly follow their route. At the northern gates leading towards the train station is a terraced garden leading up to the old water tower.
- If you have extra time before your bus or train, visit Tempio Antonio della Pace, the large brick church a few minutes' walk away. The interior is light and airy - very appropriate for a place dedicated to Peace - and the walls are a subtle but moving memorial to the 5401 WWI soldiers and 989 civilian victims of WWII who are buried there.
- Belzoni Museo-Laboratorio di Antichi Strumenti Scientifici, Via Speroni Sperone, 39/41, ☎ +37 49 655157, e-mail: email@example.com. school hours (9:30-12:30 weekdays) and certain Saturdays. This is a very peculiar museum, a collection of old scientific instruments assembled by Professor Pietro Paolo Gallo, a teacher of physics at a technical highschool, which also houses the museum in a couple of its rooms. No one speaks anything but Italian, and they are not prepared for anything more than a few enthusiasts. Tell the secretary at the school's entrance that you would like to see the scientific instruments, and she will attempt to find Professor Gallo for you. Free admission, but Professor Gallo has a few instruments he cannot identify, and you may be interrogated if you have any knowledge of what they might be..
- Eremitani Civic Museum (Museo Civico Agli Eremitani), Piazza Eremitani 8. The museum is divided into an archeological section and a picture gallery, which has a very important collection with Tizian, Tintoretto, Giotto and Bellini among other important painters.
- A pleasant local tradition is the spritz or aperitif in one of the central piazzas (Piazza delle Erbe, Piazza della Frutta or Piazza dei Signori), starting between 7 and 8 in the evening. There are lots of students and young people, which makes for a very pleasant atmosphere.
- Many young folk, particularly students, converge on the Prato della Valle to eat their lunch, either on the central grass, or leaning against the statues that line the water. In fine weather you will generally find people ensconced against these statues for the afternoon. It is one of the nicest places to rest, write, or watch the world go by in Padova.
- A big festival called Sherwood Festival usually takes place for a month, between mid-June and mid-July in the outside garden of the main soccer stadium of Padua. It hosts Italian and international bands every weekend. It is easy to reach from the city center by bike in 20 minutes.
- Mama Isa's Cooking Classes. Mama Isa is a cookery teacher, personal chef and supper club host; she offers cooking classes (half day or full day cooking lessons: fresh pasta, pizza making, tiramisù, bread making, pastry, solo travellers cooking, vegetarian cooking etc.)
Padua has two major markets. The older, much larger market fills the Piazza delle Erbe and Piazza della Frutta, lying to the north and south of a grand, arcaded stone building, the Palazzo della Ragione. The open passages of the Palazzo house the butchers, cheese vendors, fishmongers, and fresh pasta shops. The Piazza delle Erbe to the south is mostly fruits and vegetables; the Piazza dei Frutti to the north is about half fruits and vegetables and half bric-à-brac and clothing. These markets are open all day every weekday plus Saturday.
On Saturdays, the Prato della Valle is filled with a giant market selling clothing, household goods, plants, and antiques. A small fruit and vegetable market has opened weekday mornings as well, though it is incomparably smaller than the offerings at the Palazzo della Ragione.
The old stone streets and piazzas to the southeast of the Piazza delle Erbe are pedestrianized and form the shopping center of the town.
- Pizzeria Al Duomo, Via S.G. Barbarigo 18. Great-tasting pizzas that are enormous even by Italian standards. Quality is high, prices are low (pizza and wine €10-15), and the atmosphere is great. For something different, try one of their "green" pizzas.
- Pago Pago, Via Galileo Galilei 59 (near the Basilica - one block over and around the corner.). They have the usual range of pastas, meat/fish dishes, pizzas, etc. If you've overdosed on Italian food and want something lighter, try one of their salads. Great atmosphere and reasonable prices (salad, drink, and coffee under €15).
- Cucina Chef Chadi, Via S. Francesco 214 (right behind the basilica: keep the building to your right and walk until the corner at the end of the street.). closed 2-4.30PM and after 8PM. If you want to avoid junk food and taste some genuine Italian flavours, choose something from this clean and healthy take-away: freshly cooked vegetables, meat, fish and pasta are displayed everyday, and served by the cook himself. Try his paella or just let him suggest the speciality of the day. A convenient place to stop by if you want to have a wide choice, or you are travelling with your children. Good service and convenient prices (lunch menu €6-15).
- Ai Talli, Via Boccalerie 5 (on a side street off of Piazza della Frutta.). They specialize in Calabrian dishes - from the southern tip of Italy - and use only authentic ingredients. Be sure to check out the daily specials, or just stop in for a spritz if you're not quite hungry yet. Affordable prices for a central location (spritz, two courses, and wine about €20). Has tables on the corner of the Piazza when the weather is nice, i.e., most of the time.
- Oktoberfest, Via del Santo 80 (100m from Basillica di Sant' Antonio). A salad, two very big pizzas and half a litre of prosseco for €28 (10 Dec 2009). Spacious and full of locals (and graduating students singing "Dottore, dottore...") €15..
- La Lanterna, Piazza dei Signori 39. 12:00-14:30, 18:00-24:00. Pizza is baked on wooden kiln. Salata mista, two pizzas and half litre prosseco €28 (Dec 2009). €15.
- Birrolandia, Via Nazareth 11 (Near hospital (500 mt) and close to Croce Verde). 12:00 - 15:00, 19:00 - 02:00. Probably the best Pub in Padua, with a huge choice of beers and sandwiches. 5 different draft beers and more than 30 bottled beers. Very pleasant atmosphere. 0.5l draft beer costs 4-5€, 1€ less than in the city centre.
- Il Re del Kebab, Via Belzoni 127 (Near to Porta Portello), ☎ +39 049774447. 12:00 - 15:30, 18:00 - 23:30. Very good and cheap kebab and pizzas. One of the best felafel in town, and maybe one of the very few where to find home made humus and baba ganoush. Only take away. 3/10 €.
- Ristorante la Finestra, ☎ +39 049650313. Via Dei Tadi 15. 19.30-22.30. The Restaurant is in one most beautiful streets of the centre, a few steps from the Duomo. The menu changes frequently according to the change of season and availability of fresh produce, check out the section "food stuff" to see some of our most famous dishes. Restaurant owners Carlo & Helene have over 20 years experience in the restaurant business: Carlo as chef and Helene as floor manager, in Italy, Europe and USA. €35-60.
- Re Porco Osteria, Via S. Pietro,47-35139, ☎ +39 049 876 12 89, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. The food is wonderful, particularly the baccala in 3 consistenze (which is cod fish cooked three ways - €11); the pasticcio del porco (lasagna with free range pork - €10), which is very light; and the costoletta di agnello (lamb with a breadcrumb coating - €13). For dessert, the millefoglie con spuma chantilly e coulis di ciliegie (a light confection with cherries) is a good choice. The wine list is very interesting and Marco, the owner, does not push the most expensive bottles. Instead, he recommends local wines that suit the meal. Almost everything is made in-house, including the bread and desserts. Most of the customers are locals. Marco speaks very good English and translates the menu patiently. $$.
- For a light lunch, stop into any cafe for tramezzini - small sandwiches that come with a variety of fillings, and are usually cheap.
- Pizza Shop, Via Giambattista Morgagni, 48/B (At the corner with via Altinate), ☎ +39 049 875 1648. Very small take away pizzeria in the city centre, near the University. Cheap and very good. Margherita 3€, more elaborate pizzas cost 4 to 6€. On work days from October to May is full of students and you may have to wait a bit, especially at lunch time.
- Caffè Pedrocchi. Named after its owner Antonio Pedrocchi, is one of the most important historical cafés in Italy and one of the symbols of Padua.
- Ostello della Gioventù. Located within the city center, near La Specola and an easy walk to Prato della Valle and Basilica Saint Antonio.
- Casa a Colori. Inspired by ethical values and social solidarity offers a cheap accommodation in Padua for any type of traveler: pilgrims, students, workers and immigrants.
- Ostello "Città di Padova". Via Aleardi 30. Dorms from €19.
- Ariston Molino Hotel Abano Terme, Via Augure Cornelio, 5 - 35031 Abano Terme - Padova (By car: A4 exit padova ovest; A13 exit Terme Euganee; By Train: every 20 minutes by Padua Central station), ☎ +39 049 866 9061, fax: +39 049 8669153, e-mail: email@example.com. Special free services: entrance to thermal pools, acqua gym class, bikes, attended car park, terrace table and chairs, TV, minibar, beauty kit. The hotel is downtown and close to the centre and has inner thermal pools with treatments centre. From €120 double room.
- Casa del Pellegrino, Via M.Cesarotti 21 (across the square from the Basilica di Sant'Antonio), ☎ +39 0498239711, fax: +39 0498239780, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. A no-frills hotel, specializing in groups, but immaculate and quiet, and located across the street to the north of the Basilica de Santo Antonio. Some of the rooms have views of the basilica. From €40 (single, off season, shared bathroom) to €106 (more than three beds, high season)..
- Hotel Eliseo. A modern wellness center in the heart of Terme Euganee at Montegrotto on the slopes of the Euganei Hills. The hotel combines the traditional therapeutic aspects of curative thermal waters with a modern wellness center. Prices are from €57 (for a single) and €108 (for a double) on, depending on the season.
- Hotel Abano Terme Grandtorino. Famous in Europe for over 55 years for its tradition. Built and always managed by the Maggia family, its philosophy is a warm ”family-style welcome” in an intimate atmosphere, joined with a professional staff that is always available and punctual. Prices are from €67 (for a single) depending on the season and room type.
- Hotel Maccaroni, Via Liguria 1, Sarmeola di Rubano, ☎ +39 049 635200. 3 star hotel with 34 rooms, 5 kilometers away from Padova city center. Inside the hotel you may find the prestigious gourmet restaurant "Le Calandre"." €40-€120.
- Bring your Italian phrasebook and study up - a little Italian goes a long way in Padua, especially in the low season.
- The Padova Card offers free entrance to several key attractions, discounts at others, free parking, and free travel on buses. It's valid for 48 hours from the time you buy it. At €14, it's worth having even if you only use it for the Scrovegni Chapel and one or two other sites or bus rides.
- There are many students that can speak in English in Padua and many foreign students too, so the best way to find particular hints or suggestions is to go to one of the 3 piazzas around the Palazzo della Ragione during "aperitivo" time (19-23 hrs) and ask people there! They are usually really friendly and helpful.
- The Colli Euganei are low hills to the west of town with some nice trails to hike on, and other equally nice restaurants to eat at after a day of walking.
- Abano Terme is a small resort town especially popular with elderly German tourists based on the thermal spas in the area.
- Arqua Petrarca is a beautifully preserved medieval town nestled in the hills, which is probably best known for being the final resting place of the Italian poet Francesco Petrarca (Petrarch).
- Venice is not far at all. If you're in Padua, chances are you've already been to Venice or are on your way there. But if not, it's definitely worth a day trip (or two!).
- Villa di Teolo is a town on the Colli Euganei.