How to get to Padua

Padua (Padova, in Italian) is located about 40km west of Venice in the north of Italy. It is the capital of the province of the same name and the second biggest town in the regione Veneto. There are several airports nearby and there are also many railway and bus connections.

How to get to Padua

By plane

Padua has its own small airport, but not many companies fly there. The nearest bigger airports are the Aeroporto Marco Polo di Venezia-Tessèra, Treviso Airport and the Valerio Catullo Airport in Verona.

By train

It is quite easy to reach Padua by train. All trains on the lines MilanVenice and BolognaVenice stop in the city. The quickest connection from Rome will take you no more than 4 hours. You will not even need to change trains. The same goes for Turin, whereas Milan and Florence are only a 2 hour train ride away.

There are also direct trains to all the major cities in the north of Italy. It takes 30 minutes to Venice and Vicenza, about one hour to Treviso and Verona and 2 hours to Cortona. Since Padua is cheaper than Venice en Verona it can also be a good starting point to explore the area.

For hours and rates check both the Trenitalia and the Italo websites.

By bus

The Flixbus stop in Padua is in the Via Fra Paolo Sarpi, a 10 minute walk from the central station.

By car

Arriving on the A4 (Milan-Venice) from the west you need to take the exit Padova Ovest and then follow the signs to Padova Centro. From the east you take the exit Padova Est and the floow the signs to Padova Centro.

Arriving from the south on the A13 (Bologna-padova) you need to follow the signs to the Tangenziale Sud. rom here it is easy to reach any part of the city.

Padua

Baptistery Padua

The Baptistery of Padua is located next to the Cathedral of the city, on the Piazza del Duomo. It is dedicated to John the Baptist. The main point of interest of the building is a fresco cycle by Giusto de’ Manabuoi.

Baptistery Padua

Useful information

Address: Piazza Duomo, 14 – Padova. Phone: (+39) +39 049 656914. Opening hours: 10.00 till 18.00. Admission: 3 Euros (discount: 2 Euros).

History and description

Baptistery Padua - Fresco
“Chasing Adam and Eve from Paradise”, Giusto de’ Menabuoi

The Battistero di San Giovanni is built in a late Romanesque-Lombard style. The building, which stands to the right of the Duomo, was originally meant to be a Mausoleum for the Carrarese family.

It was built towards the end of the 12th century. A reconstruction in 1260 gave it its present form. Dedication took place in 1281.

The Baptistery has a square floor plan. It has a rather high, circular drum and a dome. Its apse also has a small dome.

The wall and ceiling frescoes by Giusto de’ Menabuoi were also painted in the 13th century. They are characterized by an extreme attention to detail. The cycle was commissioned by Francesco da Carrara the Elder and his wife Fina Buzzaccarini. It took the artist from 1375 till 1378 to execute the entire work.

The paintings are extremely well preserved. There are altogether about 100 different scenes. “Paradise” is depicted on the dome itself. The drum is decorated with “Stories of Genesis”, and the pendentives show “Prophets and Evangelists”.

Highlights are the “Paradise” in the dome, the “Stories of Genesis” (on the drum), and “the Prophets and the Evangelists” on the pendentives. (Piazza Duomo, 14)

Baptistery – Piazza Duomo 14, Padua

Sant’Andrea Church Padua

The Sant’Andrea Church is located in the medieval part of Padua. The original church was built in the 12th century, but it underwent many reconstructions in the course of the centuries. It is best known for the “Monument of the Cat” in front of the church.

Sant’Andrea Church Padua

Address, opening hours and admission

Address: Via Sant’Andrea, 6 – Padua.

History and description

Sant'Andrea Church Padua - High Altar
High altar

The church is dedicated to St. Andrew the Apostle. The first version of the church was constructed before 1130. The layout was completely changed in 1630 and again in 1875. On this last occasion the church, which originally consisted of one nave only, was transformed into one with three naves. The naves are separated by Corinthian columns.

On the left side some features of the 12th century façade, traces of some pilasters and a large rose window, are still visible.

The Neo-Renaissance bell tower, was reconstructed at the beginning of the twentieth century.

Highlights are some bas-reliefs by Antonio Bonazza.

Giovan Pietro Possenti was responsible for the altarpiece “Madonna with Child and Saint Andrew”.

The writer Domenico Lazzarini is buried near the sacristy.

Monument of the Cat

Monument of the Cat Padua
Monument of the “Cat”

On the square in front of the church stands a stone sculpture called Gatta di Sant’Andrea. The “cat”, which is really a lion, sits on an ancient Roman pedestal.

The statue was taken to Padova after the inhabitants of the Sant’Andrea district had beaten Aldobrandino d’Este I in battle. The statue was returned after peace had been made. It was replaced by a bigger statue, which was made by a Master Daniel.

In 1797 someone tried to destroy the statue, probably mistaking it for a Venetian lion. The sculptor Felice Chieregin restored it to its original state.

In the recent past the statue was damaged several times by people who might have gotten their driving licences a bit too early. In 2013 a new restoration was necessary.

Nobody knows why the lion is called a cat.

Sant’Andrea Church Padua

Castello Carrarrese Padua

The Castello Carrarese is one of the most important tourist attractions of Padua. In the course of its history it has been used for a number of different purposes. From the 18th century onward, it came generally to be referred to as the “Old Castle” (Castel Vecchio).

Castello Carrarese Padua

Address, opening hours and admission

Address: Piazza Castello, 12 – Padua. Telephone: +39 0498205611.

History and description

The area the Carrarese Castle stands on was first occupied by another castle, built by Ezzelino III da Romano. At the time it was the most important defensive part of the city walls.

Ezzelino III da Romano was a feudal lord who reigned Padua from 1237 to 1256. He was an ally of Emperor Frederik II, and was know as an extremely cruel tyrant. Apart from Padua, he also ruled over Verona and Vicenza.

The largest of the two towers of the original castle was called the Torlonga.

After the end of Ezzelino‘s reign, the castle was abandoned. This period of decay lasted till the 14th century, when the Carraresi family had the present fortifications constructed.

The Carraresi had the two formerly checkered towers painted red and white. This can be seen on a fresco by Giusto de’ Menabuoi in the Sant’Antonio Basilica. Recent restoration work has brought to light traces of these colors in the Specola on top of the castle.

There used to be an elevated passage between the castle and the Reggia Carrarese, the residential complex the family had built within the city walls.

After the Renaissance walls were built and the protracted period of peace under Venetian rule, the castle became less strategically important. The Republic also toyed with the idea of building a “New Castle” (Castelnuovo), but of this project there is not much left.

Several references proving that it was the Carraresi who built the 14th century version of the castle have been found. One of the stones in a well found in 1810 in the large courtyard has an inscription mentioning one of the Carraresi, princes of Padua, as the builder of the palace. In 1990 a floral decoration with the initials FC, for Francesco da Carrara, was found underneath some plaster in one of the rooms.

Until after world war II the castle served as a prison. Later, it became an astronomical observatory (Specola).

Castello Carrarese – Piazza Castello 12, Padua

Chiesa degli Eremitani Padua

The 13th century Chiesa degli Eremitani in Padua is famous for the Ovetari Chapel. Unfortunately many of the sumptuous decorations were damaged during the war. Mantegna‘s paintings in this chapel have now been restored.

Address, opening hours and admission

Adress: Piazza Eremitani – Padua. Phone: +39 049 8756410. Opening hours: Monday to friday from 7.30am till 12.30pm and from 3.30 till 7.00pm; Saturdays, Sundays and holidays from 9am till 12.30pm and from 4.00 till 7.00pm.

History and description

The Chiesa degli Eremitani was built in 1276, in honour of Saints Philip and James. The name derives from the fact that many pilgrims passed through the guest quarters of the nearby convent.

The church has a rectangular plan with a single nave ending in three apses. The facade has a rose window.

The ceiling, which is shaped like an upturned ship’s keel, was done in 1306, by Frà Giovanni degli Eremitani.

The tombs of Ubertino and Jacopo Da Carrara and of Marco Mantova Benavides are placed along the walls of the church.

Guariento‘s frescoes in the Presbytery as well as the ones by Giusto de’ Menabuoi in the Sanguinacci Chapel have been partially restored. They had been severely damaged in 1944.

Ovetari Chapel

Chiesa degli Eremitani Padua - Mantegna
“The Martyrdom of Saint James”

The church is mostly famous because of the Ovetari Chapel, one of Andrea Mantegna‘s masterpieces. The painter worked on this chapel in two periods, first from 1448 till 1451, and then from 1453 till 1457.

In 1944 the frescoes were destroyed during a bombing raid. It took around 50 years to restore the paintings.

The frescoes are characterized by Mantegna‘s use of perspective, which makes the saints Giacomo and Cristoforo seem larger than life.

Chiesa degli Eremitani – Piazza Eeremitani, Padua

Caffè Pedrocchi Padua

The Caffè Pedrocchi is a the oldest and most famous café of Padua and thus the one that is always mentioned in guide books. Its piano nobile is nowadays the seat of the Museo di Risorgimento.

Caffè Pedrocchi Padua

Address and opening hours

Address: Via VIII Febbraio – 35121 Padova. Public transport: TRAM, 3,11,12,13,16,18,22,A/M/T. Opening hours: Winter time from 09.30 till 12.30 and from 15.30 till 18.00; Summer from 09.30 till 12.30 and from 15.30 till 18.00. Closed: Mondays (except when coinciding with a public holiday), January 1, 5, December 25, 26. Admission: 4 Euros (2 Euros discount). The ticket includes the entrance to the Piano Nobile of the Pedrocchi factory. The PadovaCard gives free admission to the Piano Nobile and the Museo del Risorgimento.

History

Caffé Pedrocchi Padua, neogothic facade
Neogothic facade

The Caffè Pedrocchi was built between 1826 and 1831. Its architectural style is neoclassical. Until 1916 it was open 24/7, which got it its nickname of “Café without doors”.

It was founded by the businessman Antonio Pedrocchi (1783-1852) and quickly became a hangout for intellectuals, academics and politicians.

During Italy‘s Risorgimento it was a favorite spot of patriots. On February 8th 1848, a student’s injury led to some small acts of rebellion. A plaque in the Sala Bianca (“White Room”) recalls the hole of a bullet fired by an Austrian policeman during these riots.

Description

The building consists of two floors. The ground floor is where the actual caffetteria is located. The rooms in this part are named for the colors of their wallpaper.

When the writer Stendhal visited Padua he also frequented the café, liking its zabaione so much, that he could not refrain from mentioning this in the introduction to his famous “Certosa di Parma“. The owners of the café liked this so much that they could nor refrain from putting up a plaque mentioning this.

Rooms on the piano nobile include the Sala Rossini, de Sala Egizia and the Sala Romana. The Sala Rossini is also known as the Ballroom.

Museo del Risorgimento

Portrait of Antonio Pedrocchi in the museum.
Antonio Pedrocchi

Nowadays the piano nobile of the Caffé Pedrocchi is the seat of the Museum of the Risorgimento and the Modern Era. The Risorgimento is the Italian movement that started around 1820 and led to the Unification of the country in 1870. The museum shows the involvement of Padua and its inhabitants in this important period in the history of the country.

Caffé Pedrocchi – Via VIII Febbraio, Padua

San Nicolò Church Padua

The San Nicolò Church in Padua is one of the oldest of the city. It is located on the peaceful square of the same name. In the past it used to be the favorite church of the city’s aristocracy.

San Nicolò Church Padua

Address, opening hours and admission

Address: Via San Nicolò – Padova. Tel.: +39 049 8752760. Opening hours: From 08.00 till 18.30; Saturdays and Sundays from 8.30 till 10.00 and from 11.30 till 19.00. Entrance is free.

History and description

San Nicolò Church Padua
Piazza San Nicolò

The first version of the San Nicolò Church was built in 1088. This is indicated by some inscriptions on its foundation, which were found during restoration works. It was probably meant for the mortal remains of San Nicolò da Bari, who is better known as Santa Claus.

Nowadays the building style is mostly Romanesque. The church was often remodeled, however.

For a while, the church was attached to the Reggio Carrarese. The space in front of the church was a cemetery.

During the middle ages, it was the church which was visited by Padua‘s aristocracy. On the left exterior wall of the church you can still see the coats-of-arms of some of those families. In those days, many members of these families were buried inside the church. The sarcophagus of the Forzatè family is still located here.

On one of the walls bordering the Via San Nicolò two signs resembling the symbol for “infinity” (an “8” lying down) are visible. In reality these are two letters “S” that stand for Selciato di San Nicolò, and indicate the borders of the church’s private property.

Works of Art

The biggest highlight of the church is the Cappella delle Confessioni. Tiepolo‘s “Holy Family with the Saints Francesca Romana and Eurosia” adorns this chapel. Originally this painting decorated the Sant’Agnese Church, which is now deconsecrated. The angel at the feet of San Francesca was added by Giambattista Mingardi. Tiepolo painted the work in 1777, as is indicated on te sheath of the sword.

San Nicolò Church – Via San Nicolò, Padua

Santa Maria del Carmine Basilica Padua

The Santa Maria del Carmine Basilica in Padua is popularly known as “i Carmini”. Next to this church stands the Renaissance Scoletta, which is completely frescoed.

Santa Maria del Carmine Basilica Padua

Address, opening hours and admission

Address: Piazza Petrarca – Padua. Telephone Scoletta del Carmine: (+39) 049 8760422 – 349 8757880. Opening hours: From April 1 till October 25 Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10.00 till 16.00; From October 26 till March 31 Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10.00 till 18.00. For a visit to the Scoletta, you need to make an appointment with the parish. Public transpport: Bus 1, 6, 9, 15.

History and description

Church

Construction of the Chiesa del Carmine began in 1335, but the church was not consecrated until 1446. The architect Lorenzo da Bologna, who was a follower of Brunelleschi, later rebuilt the church in a Renaissance style.

After several restorations, the facade was finished in 1737. The architect who designed this facade was G. Gloria, while the statues of Madonna and two saints were made by G. Bonazza.

Canova was resonsible for one of the altars.

Scoletta

The Scoletta next to the church was the seat 0f the confraterity of the same name. It was built in the 14th century, but the fresco cycle depicting the lives of Mary and Jesus were paint in the 16th century.

The frescoes are painted by various artists, including Girolamo Tessari (whose nickname was dal Santo), Giulio end Domenico Campagnola and Stefano dall’Arzere.

Basilica del Carmine – Piazza Petrarca, Padua