Probably better known as the city of St. Anthony or as the economic capital of Veneto, Padua is one of the most important Art Cities in Italy. The classical itinerary includes the visit to the most important monuments of the town, especially those realized between the 13th century and the 15th century, the most extraordinary economic and cultural period, that left an indelible mark on the town: the Medioeval City Walls, the great civil and religious buildings, the foundation of the University (1222), the second in Italy, which attracts masters and students from the whole Europe, the wonderful frescoe-cycles realized by Giotto and his followers, Guariento, Altichiero, Giusto de' Menabuoi, and later the works by Andrea Mantegna and Donatello.
ROMAN AND EARLY CHRISTIAN PADUA: Some signs of roman and early christian Padua's story are preserved under the pavement of the Cathedral there are remains of mosaics, columns, urns, horse and ox's bones probably the remains of ancient pagan rites. Some Byzantine capitals dedicated to the Goddess of Fortune are now displayed inside the Museo Civico agli Eremitani. Other objects like stones, inscriptions, crosses are held inside the Museo Diocesano.
The Santa Sofia Churchis one of the few medieval churches (the earliest section of the church is said to date back to the 12th Century) in Padua whose original aspect is almost intact. The facade presents a series of niches which recall the general outline of the Basilica of St. Marco in Venice. The interior is absolutely plain and is divided into a nave and two aisles by pillars and columns with capitals. At the end of the nave is an internal apse which is included in the big apse laid down on the outside walls. During the 14th Century there was built the cross vault which hid the old wooden covering still existing over the 14th Century vaults.
The old oratory of St. Maria and St. Prosdocimo in the Basilica of St. Giustina is the early Christian oratory (6th century A.D.), built by command of Opilione, Theodoric's Prefect, has the typical form of the martyrium, a Greek cross preceded by a little narthex. The terrible earthquake of 1117 destroyed its beautiful mosaics, which narrated the life of the Bishop St. Martin. The most important things to see are the Tomb of St. Prosdocimo, with the image of the saint in the typical ravennate style of the 5th/6th centuries; the saint bishop, as the tradition goes, lived between the second half of the 3rd century and the first half of the 4th century, at the time of Saint Giustina, the marble tympanum bearing an inscription by Opilione (6th c.). Really interesting are two crosses which have Greek letters, building a figurative language symbolizing the passage from death to life and the image of Christ as Lord of the Universe; two pluteus (which probably belonged to the early christian Basilica that are decorated with vine-shoots, doves, peacocks, etc..
Tomb of Antenore: the legend of Antenore, who is believed to be the mythological founder of Padua, was originated by a passage in the Aeneid (I, 242,249) in which Virgil described the flight of Antenor from Troy his wandering, and his arrival at the Adriatic coast and the final foundation of Padova. Virgil also writes: "...here [in Padua] he rests in placid peace." The reference to the resting of Antenore in Padua was believed to be true when in 1274 the skeleton of a warrior inside a lead coffin was brought to light during excavations in the area of the actual Piazza Antenore. The humanist and man of letters Lovato de Lovati thought to have found the remains of the trojan prince. In 1334 the coffin was opened to honour the trojan blood and in that occasion a golden sword with some poetic verses engraved on it was discovered. During the restoration works in 1985: the coffin was opened again and parts of the skeleton were analyzed in Tuxon, Arizona. The result of the scientific study on the bones definetly denies the possibility that those bones belonged to Antenor. They are probably the mortal remains of a warrior, who lived between the 3rd and the 4th c. AD.
The St. Lorenzo Bridge is the best preserved roman bridge (40-30 B.C.). The bridge was already mentioned in medieval documents, which report of the existence in that area of a S. Stefano Bridge. This name, which came from the nearby Benedictine women's convent, remains up to the 15th century. During the 16th century the bridge was called St. Lorenzo like the next church.
Ruins of the Roman Amphiteatre and gardens of the "Arena" is one of the few buildings of the ancient Patavium, which is still visible. It probably dates back to the Augustean age (I c. A.D.), the period of greatest splendour for Patavium. The Paduan arena was similar to the one in Verona (134,26 x 97,31 m.) had an elliptic wall with 80 arches, and within the external wall there was another circle supported by a barrel vault on which the steps of the auditorium were arranged. Ruined by natural events and by human interventions, the arena became a property of the Commune of Padova in 1090 and its stones were used to build houses and palaces.
The Column of "Madonna dei Noli" stands in the middle of Piazza Garibaldi, where it was erected in 1954 to give the idea of the ancient columnades which during the roman age characterized the centre of Padua. At the top of the column is the statue of the Madonna dei Noli, a work of the mid-Eighteenth century by Antonio Bonazza. The column is the result of the assemblage of the best remains of roman columns, which were kept in the Civic Museum. The column is mainly made of Aurisina stone, which is a typical stone of the Carso (limestone uplands around Trieste), and was probably brought to Padua through waterways.
Inscription on the basis of the belltower of the Cathedral: the translation from the Latin is more or less the following: (...) had (this monument) built for (...), son of Caius, of the Fabia di Veio tribe. It is an epigraph of mt 0,44 x mt 1,17 in stone of the Eugenaen Hills and is inserted on the wall of the basis of the belltower of the Cathedral (via Dietro Duomo). It mentions the Fabia di Veio tribe, a particularly important name for the town of Padua, which, thanks to Caesar, in 49 BC became a Roman Municipium. It might testify the inscription of the Paduan population to the Fabia tribe, the same to which belonged the gens Julia, an honour which was given to Padua because of its long and faithful cooperation with Rome. The inscription was found during one of the numerous restoration works, which were carried out in the Cathedral.
The Museum of Archeological Sciences and Artsis part of the University of Padua, Faculty of Letters. It is hosted in the last floor of the Liviano, which was built between 1937 and 1939 on a project of architect Giò Ponti. The seat of the Museum recreates the interior of a building dedicated to classical studies, an antique space like the hall of a Roman house, where it was possible to display collections of ancient objects. The nucleus of the Museum is constituted by the collection of Marco Mantova Benavides (1486-1582). The collection is quite rich and includes ancient and Renaissance works of art, natural curiosities such as fossils and stuffed animals. The Mantova Bonavides collection is one of the rare 16th century collections which have survived up to nowadays. The Museum of Archeological Science and Art displays a good choice of Roman "instrumentum domesticum", i.e. objects of daily use such as pottery, oil-lamps, amphoras, etc.
Archeological Museum is the first nucleus of the Archeological Museum of Padua, which is a section of the Eremitani Civic Museums, dates back to 1825. It was soon enlarged thanks to the donation of private collections, which were displayed together with the archeological material from local excavations. The tour starts from the pre-roman room, where it is possible to see finds dating back to a span of time from the 8th to the 3rd century B.C. Of particular interest are the 88 pieces coming from the so called tomb of the studded vase, which dates back to the end of the 8th century-beginning of the 7th century BC. The vases decorated with red and black strips dated back to the 6-5th c. BC. The series of paleo-venetian funerary stones (stele) is unique; they all come from the paduan territory. These rectangular slabs, often made of limestone, were fixed to the tombs of personages of the highest social levels and cover a period of over 5 centuries (from VI century BC-Stele of Camin-to I century AD - Stele of Ostiala Gallenia). In the central part they are decorated with figures of various kinds; the frame has frequently inscriptions in Venetica characters. The funerary arrays coming from tombs are displayed in the cases. They consist mainly of burial urns, metal urns, cups, rings, buckles, necklaces, combs, knives, etc. Worth pointing out is the burial array from the tomb of the studded vases. Displayed in glass cases are symbolic objects and votive materials, fine evidences of Venetic religious rites, most of them were collected in the locality of Montegrotto, where the most ancient Venetic shrine was sited. A room is dedicated to Etruscan, Italic and Venetic statues that can be dated between 400 and 200 B.C. The roman section is particularly rich. The beautiful bust of Silenus, the refined funerary stone of the young dancer Claudia Toreuma and the monumental funerary temple of the Volumnii, which is not completed. In the main hall are large sections of mosaic pavement from both public and private buildings, displayed on panels raised above the floor and on a moveable rack. Two Egyptian rooms are dedicated to the pioneer of Egyptology Giovan Battista Belzoni. Of particular significance are two statues in black basaltic, from Karnak, which depict the lion-headed goddess Sekhmet, the coffin of the anthropoid mummy of Meres Imem, and some Aramaic papyri of the Persian Age, including the Book of the Dead of Horo. In the former little chapel, dating back to the 13th century is displayed the prestigious Casuccio collection (greek vases). Architectonical findings of Roman age are displayed in the cloister.
GIOTTO AND HIS FOLLOWERS - A different itinerary bring the tourist to admire the Giotto's masterpieces.
Grazie all'innovativo linguaggio del ciclo Thanks to the innovative language of the cycle in the Scrovegni Chapel, Giotto gave a great impulse to the renewal of painting in Padua. The frescoes of the chapel were an inspiration source for several generations of artists, who were active in town in the 14th Century. All the artists called in town by the Lords of Padua, the Da Carrara family, the religious orders, the noble families, were in some way influenced by the masterpiece of the florentine master. Guariento, Altichiero and Giusto de' Menabuoi, who left their masterpieces in the most important religious and civil buildings of the town, show many stylistic features which are typical of Giotto's style.
The Scrovegni Chapel holds the most famous cycle of frescoes realized by Giotto between 1303 and 1305. Above the main entrance is the Last Judgement. The Chapel represents a unique masterpiece of figurative art. We may continue our trip forwards the Eremitani Church that was erected between 1260 and 1306 for the Hermits friars. In the 14th Century it became one of the most important churches of Padua and was decorated by the greatest masters then active in town. During World War II bombs destroyed most of the church and its beautiful frescoes. Its main features are the splendid vaulted wooden ceiling and the Ovetari Chapel, which contains the remains of the frescoes illustrating the Lives of St. James and St. Christopher, carried out by the great Renaissance master Andrea Mantegna, between 1448 and 1457. The aisless interior keeps also the tombs of Ubertino and Jacopo da Carrara, Lords of Padua in the 14th c. The tombs are works by the venetian master Andriolo de' Sanctis. The side chapels are decorated with 14th Century frescoes by Guariento and Giusto de' Menabuoi. Of great interest is also the 15th C. side portal, a work by Nicolò Baroncelli with bas-relifs depicting the months. Go on as far as thePalazzo della Ragione, commercial and civil centre of Padua, the ancient Palace of Justice, thet was built between 1218 and 1219. It is a huge building, which together with the Basilica of St. Anthony, has become the symbol of Padua. The original building was enlarged in 1306-09 by Frà Giovanni degli Eremitani, who raised the walls and added the two external loggias and covered the whole structure with a truly impressive lead inverted ship's keel roof. The interior was also altered and, once the pillars and walls that divided it into three large rooms were demolished, it became a kind of huge covered square, called "Il Salone", the largest hanging hall in Europe (m 80 x 27). As ancient documents report, Giotto was commissioned to decorate the interior, but his frescoes were destroyed by fire in 1420 and replaced by those realized by Nicolò Miretto and Stefano da Ferrara and other masters. The cycle consists of 333 frescoes covering the four walls and it represents a rare example of medieval astrological cycle. The scenes were inspired by the famous man of letters and physician Pietro d'Abano. The frescoes can be divided into two sequences: the lower sequence is interrupted by windows and framed by an architectural motif of small painted arches. The upper level is divided into three rows one above the other. The frescoes in the three upper rows all contain the following sequence: an apostle, a month of the year, a sign of the zodiac, a planet and costellations around the sides. The lower section has no unified theme it depicts saints, bishops, doctors of the church, virtues and the arts. On the north-western side there is a great wooden horse constructed in 1466 for a noble tournament perhaps it's a copy of the horse realized by Donatello for the equestrian statue of the Gattamelata which stands on Piazza del Santo in front of the Basilica of St. Anthony. Now we arrive near the Liviano Palace thet's the seat of the Faculty of Letters and Philosophy of the University of Padua. It was built in 1939 on a project by Giò Ponti and includes a part of the ancient Carrarese palace. In the Sala dei Giganti (The Hall of Giants), among 16th Century frescoes, stands out a beautiful portrait of Francesco Petrarca, a fragment of the original fourteenth century fresco decoration. This portrait is considered by scholars to be one of the most faithful likenesses of the poet. Though until recently ascribed to Jacopo Avanzo, it is now generally thought to be by Altichiero (14th century). The Baptistery of the Cathedral is a magnificent example of Romanesque Lombard art; it was probably built towards the end of the 12th C., but the date of its building is still uncertain. In the 14th C. Francesco Il Vecchio da Carrara, Lord of Padua, and his wife, Fina Buzzaccarini, thought to transform the edifice into their memorial chapel. The baptistery was enlarged and underwent some changes: between 1375 and 1378 the interior was completely frescoed by Giusto de Menabuoi, who left here one of the most beautiful cycles of frescoes of the 14th century; on the walls Giusto painted scenes from the Old and New Testament; the cupola shows the Paradise, in which Christ the Almighty is shown surrounded by Angels, Saints and the Virgin.
The Oratorio di San Michele has very old origins, dating back as far as the year 907 or even earlier (probably a religious building existed on this area already in the 6th century). The church was destroyed in 1390 but the annexed Oratory of St. Michele was not damaged. It keeps a cycle of frescoes depicting episodes from the life of the Virgin, the Evangelists and Doctors of the Church. The cycle was realized in 1397 by Jacopo da Verona. Some detached frescoes are kept in the Eremitani Civic Museum. Into
Basilica of St. Giustina, In the Chapel of St. Luke, Giovanni Storlato depicted the stories of St. Luke (1436-1438).
TheOratory of St. Giorgiowas erected in 1377 by the noble family of the Lupi di Soragna as funerary chapel. Raimondino Lupi di Soragna was a valorous warrior, who fought for Charles IV, and later for the Viscontis and Gonzagas. He went to Padua in 1376 and Francesco il Vecchio da Carrara, Lord of Padua, was proud to welcome such a valorous man. Raimondino commissioned Altichiero da Zevio the fresco decoration of the Oratory. Altichiero decorated it with episodes from the life of St. George, St. Catherine and St. Lucy (1379-1384).
Basilica of St. Anthony, often called Basilica del Santo, is a complex stately religious building which was started in 1232, a year after St. Anthony's death. The outside of the Basilica is a mixture of Lombard, Tuscan and Byzantine styles; the 8 domes and the 2 bell-towers are built in the oriental style. The golden angel on the highest dome is said to turn following the winds, thus giving exact weather forecast. The 3 bronze portals of the façade were planned by Camillo Boito (1895). The plan of the interior is cruciform, with the nave and 2 aisles that unite behind the apses and create a semicircle where 9 radial chapels are to be seen. Big columns separate the aisles. In the Chapel of the Saint you will find the tomb (sarcophagus) of St.Anthony, by Andrea Briosco and Gianmaria Falconetto. Inside the Basilica there are important ancient and contemporary works of art, among which the Chapel of the Blessed Luca Belludi, entirely frescoed by Giusto de' Menabuoi (1382), the Chapel of San Giacomo or San Felice with a beautiful cycle of paintings by Altichieri da Zevio (1374-78), the high altar with Donatello's sculptures, among which stands out the Crucifix (the Gattamelata equestrian statue in front of the Basilica is also by Donatello).
Other works are by Sansovino, Briosco, Tiepolo, Titian, Achille Casanova, Ubaldo Oppi, Pietro Annigoni, and many others. The convent cloisters are also very fine, especially the magnolia cloister, where you can see numerous works in marble and a century-old magnolia tree. Facing the Basilica if you look to your right you can see the Oratory of st. George, chapel of the Lupi di Soragna family, built in 1377 and entirely frescoed by Altichieri da Zevio (1379-1384), the Scuola del Santo, which contains paintings related to St. Anthony from different time periods including those by Titian, and the Antoniano Museum, opened in 1995 to commemorate the 8th centenary of St. Anthony's birth, in which you can find paintings, jewellery, paraments and sculptures.
TO PRACTISE GOLF IN PADUA: Set in the beautiful landscape of the Euganean Hills, all the golf fields of the Province of Padova are well designed and fully-equipped. All courses are within few kilometers both from Padua and from the famous spas of Abano, Montegrotto and Galzignano Terme, where you can find a great variety of accomodation from luxiourus hotels to friendly bed&breakfasts.