My mini tour of Northern Italy continues and after being overwhelmed by Venice I decided to hunt for a nearby destination that’s not so popular with tourists. Within 5 minutes of stepping out of the train station I knew that Padua, or Padova as it’s known in Italy, was a fantastic choice.
Below, you’ll find some tidbits that will whet your appetite for a visit along with some personal VSCO snaps. For the other Italian cities I visited make sure to check out the Ferrara, Bologna and Venice photo journals.
According to Trojan history, Padua was founded in 1183 B.C. by Antenor, who supposedly was a counselor to Priam during the Trojan War. It’s also home to a university that was founded in 1222 and has the notable distinction of being one of the oldest in Europe. Because of this long history, ancient architecture and ruins are found nearly everywhere you might look.
Like other cities in Northern Italy, Padua has cobblestoned streets, open-air markets and spacious squares where you can stop and admire the scenery. In fact, Padua has one of the largest elliptical squares in Europe. I was totally overwhelmed by the architectural diversity of the city, which again reminded me of Ukraine. Specifically the town of Ivano Frankivsk, which is also known for it’s cobbled streets and rich history.
Padua is generally a flat city, and its historical center is not very large. This means you can easily explore your surroundings on foot; however, as we’re in Italy people opt to ride bicycles. If you’re not up for a walk or cycling excursion, there’s also a handy tramline that stops close to many notable sites such as the botanical gardens, Santo Basilica and some of the city’s museums.
Trying to navigate Padua in a car isn’t recommended. The narrow streets are very prone to traffic jams, especially during peak travel hours. I ended up getting lost on foot as there’s no better way to explore a new city especially when you’re trying to find those unique photo spots.
Although Padua has two basilicas that are worth looking at, don’t pass up the Piazza del Duomo. It’s smaller than either of the basilicas, but Michelangelo had a hand in designing the building. Furthermore, you’ll find statues and artwork inside, plus several frescoes that were relied on when the Piazza del Duomo was used for baptismal services.
Also, be sure to check out Padua’s Arena as it’s a great example of Roman ruins. They aren’t as extensive as what you’ll find in Rome or Venice, but still very interesting to see with about three quarters of the Arena’s walls are still standing. During the summer months, the Arena is used for outdoor film-screenings.
The Scrovegni Chapel sculpture garden was an interesting place to stroll through as every conceivable type of art was on display here. From surrealist to modernist sculptures it was almost too much to take in. As I was in the mood for some solitude, Padua’s Botanical Gardens helped me out.
Although the grounds are not especially large, they are laid out well enough to prevent visitors from feeling overwhelmed. Worth noting that it’s the first garden of its type in the world and almost felt like it was built especially for this city.
Although Padua has more than two hundred thousand permanent residents, it’s still a place that hasn’t been overrun with curious tourists. Plan to spend at least a day there, especially if you’re already in Italy and searching for a cool place to take a day trip.
I hope you enjoyed taking this trip to Italy with me. For the other Italian cities I visited make sure to check out the Ferrara, Bologna and Venice photo journals. I have one more post coming up with a slightly different twist, while I was in Italy I tried my hand at some people photography which was a brilliant learning experience.
Buildings and still areas are beautiful but capturing a moment that you can remember or relate when you see the picture later on is a totally different feeling.