Dear Traveller friends
Padua has so much to offer that a one day tour may end up being dainty. However, if you have one day only to devote to Padua, you can manage to see many things, provided that you are willing to keep a good pace and miss a few attractions. With two days, you’ll be able to visit every part of town at leisure, and you can also visit the beautiful Palladian Villas in the nearby Stra.
Since the city centre is almost entirely a pedestrian area, I suggest you
If you arrive in town for a one day tour, you’ll start from the northern part of the city regardless if you come by car or by train. In Via
The train is another excellent option. The Railway Station, in fact, is only 800 meters from the town centre.
The only way to begin a visit in Padua is with its most famous point of interest: The Scrovegni Chapel (Cappella
This visit must be planned carefully and in good time. The chapel can accommodate only 25 visitors at a time, and the tour lasts for twenty minutes, more or less. This means that only 75 people per hour are allowed to enter. The artistic value of the chapel is such that it attracts visitors from all over the world at any time of the year, that’s why you have to book your ticket at least a couple of months prior your visit. You can try to get a ticket without booking it, but it’s almost certain you’ll be disappointed. Since your first day in Padua is packed with visits and wonders, the best time to book your ticket for the Scrovegni Chapel is early in the morning; ideally, the best time would be the first visit at 9 am. Be sure to be at the chapel at least 15 minutes before the appointed time, to collect your ticket and leave your bag at the wardrobe.
You can book your ticket here. Once you are logged in, you can choose your preferred day and time depending on availability and pay with your credit card. The booking service isn’t directly managed by the facility but avails itself of the VivaTicket platform.
Despite the difficulties of booking your ticket, the Scrovegni Chapel is unquestionably worth the effort. This chapel was commissioned to Giotto by Enrico Scrovegni, an affluent Paduan banker. The frescoes inside the chapel are considered one of the essential art masterpieces in the world and Giotto, despite the importance of his earlier works (1290-1335), gained most of his fame from this endeavour.
The chapel is monitored continuously and often subjected to interventions to preserve its magnificence. You’ll spend the first part of your visit (15-20 minutes) in an airlock of sorts, which allows the minimum possible alteration of the microclimate inside the chapel. While waiting inside the airlock, you’ll be shown a video telling the story of the chapel and explaining the details of the artworks you’re going to admire inside. If you pay attention to the video, you’ll be well prepared for what comes next, and you’ll be able to enjoy your time inside the chapel thoroughly.
The frescoes inside the chapel form four different cycles. In the lower part, you’ll see monochrome allegories of vices and virtues. In the upper part of the walls, you can follow two different stories: episodes from the life of Jesus Christ and scenes from the life of the Virgin Mary. On the counterfacade is depicted the Last Judgement, an incredibly complex and vivid representation. The ceiling is the triumph of God’s wisdom; in a cobalt blue sky, you can admire angels, prophets and saints.
You’ll have 15-20 minutes inside the chapel, during which you’ll be able to explore and take pictures.
Once your time is over, you’ll be asked to leave the chapel to make room for another group. Once outside the Scrovegni Chaple, you have direct access to Padua’s Musei Civici (or Musei Civici agli Eremitani). The whole museum can be visited with the same ticket you bought for the chapel. This complex includes four parts: archaeological museum, medieval art museum, museum of applied arts, and contemporary art museum. If you only have one day to visit Padua, you probably won’t have time enough to explore the entire complex. Instead of rushing through the visit of the four museums, you should perhaps focus on the medieval art museum. Here you can find essential artworks by Giotto, Tintoretto, Veronese, Tiziano, and many other artists of the period.
If you plan to spend a couple of days in Padua, you can devote all the time you choose to the exploration of the museums.
Just outside the Musei Civici
After admiring the early work of Mantegna, you can head toward the city centre, walking along Via
Even if your path inevitably brings you near Bo Palace (Palazzo Bo), I suggest to postpone this visit to the second day and head toward the magnificent Palazzo
The construction work for this gigantic palace started in 1220, but the will to add another floor to the original project lengthened them so much that the palace was completed after 1300. The ground floor and the two squares on both sides of the palace host a well-stocked and unique market. Outside the building, among the stalls in the two squares, you can buy fruit and vegetables. Inside the palace, you can find a whole world of dairy and meat products.
Even if nowadays the market is equipped with modern facilities, its charm is still intact and allows you to travel with your imagination and go back in time. The ground floor, in fact, was used as a covered market since the beginning.
On the first floor, you can purchase the ticket to visit the main hall. The fee is modest and the visit it’s definitely worth your time. This hall was used as
Once your visit to Palazzo
Unlike many other cities in Italy, Padua’s cathedral doesn’t hold particular artistic interest. However, you can’t miss a visit to the nearby Baptistery and the Diocesan Museum.
The Baptistery (Battistero) was built during the twelfth century, and it’s renowned for the cycle of frescoes by Giusto de Menabuoi, painted in the fourteenth century. Along the walls of the Baptistery, you can see many scenes from the Bible. On the dome, there is a beautiful representation of Christ Pantocrator, which perfectly shows the typical aspects of Byzantine art.
On the other side of the square, you can visit the Diocesan Museum (Museo Diocesiano). Little known and undervalued, this museum will provide you with the chance for a quiet and peaceful visit. The building hosts several religious works of art, but the main attraction is the Salon of the Bishops (Salone
If you choose to spend two days in Padua, you can spend some time exploring the rest of the museum and admire paintings by Veneziano, de Menabuoi and Tiepolo. If you are on a one-day tour, it’s time to go on.
Now that you have seen some parts of the city centre, you may think that Padua has nothing more to offer and little chance to surprise you. As much as you can enjoy walking in its young and cheerful atmosphere, what can you possibly find more? Well, be ready to be proved wrong, because your next stop is Prato
From Prato della Valle, you can reach the final point of interest for your one day tour. The Basilica of Saint Anthony of Padua is at an easy distance of a few minutes walk. This place holds a strong spiritual call, even if it isn’t the most ostentatious place of interest in town, and it’s definitely worth a visit both for its religious value and the feelings that can stir in the worshippers. Inside the Basilica you can follow the path leading the pilgrims to the tomb of the Saint, then to a collection of relics and, in the end, to the two cloisters.
Your first (or only) day in Padua can be concluded. You can take advantage of what’s left of the afternoon to stroll among the porches and enjoy the atmosphere.
If you decided to spend two days in Padua, your second day begins at Bo Palace (Palazzo Bo) seat of the University of Padua, the eighth most ancient university in the world. You can visit Bo Palace through a guided tour. During the day there are four tours in Italian and four tours in English. If you are interested, you should book your visit in advance by sending an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you manage to book the first tour in the morning (9.30 am), you can spend the rest of your day without the constant worry of being there on time. However, the Palace is sometimes visible just partially, depending on the schedule of the educational activities. Anyway, two are the unmissable stops that you can visit every day: the Ancient Courtyard (Cortile Antico), with its collection of over three thousands crests of the rectors and councillors who worked at the University, and the Anatomical Theatre (Teatro Anatomico), the most ancient facility devoted to the study of anatomy.
If you are lucky, you’ll be able to visit the Hall of the Forty (Sala
After visiting Bo Palace, there’s one place left you can’t miss: the Botanical Garden (Orto Botanico). Created in the Sixteenth century, it contains over four thousands species of plants, and it’s part of the University of Padua. Here researchers study the systems of biological control, used to protect plants from parasites and harmful insects with other not dangerous organisms. The Botanical Garden is divided into two parts. Outside you can visit the Ancient Garden, with plants from the Mediterranean area. Inside the greenhouses, you can discover many different plants from all over the world, organised by climatic zone.
Now that the visit at the Botanical Garden is over, it’s time to head outside town and discover at least one of the many points of interest nearby Padua.
My suggestion falls upon Stra, a village along the Brenta River that, even if it’s part of the province of Venice, it’s just ten kilometres from Padua. Here you can visit two of the most fascinating Venetian Villas.
The first is Villa Pisani, an imposing and elegant building with more than one hundred and fifty rooms, which construction was strongly desired by the noble Venetian family of the Pisani. Even if you can’t visit the entire building, the most important rooms are accessible to the public. You can visit the Hall of Napoleon (Sala di Napoleone) and the Hall of Savoys (Sala
The last point of interest in our tour of Padua is in Stra too—Villa Foscarini Rossi. This noble mansion, built in 1600, is named after the two personalities who resided here: Marco Foscarini, Doge of Venice, and Luigino Rossi, who created the Shoes Museum inside the villa. Besides the mansion and its frescoes, this museum is reason enough for a visit, with its collection of over 1500 shoes.
Before going to visit the villas, check their respective websites for the opening hours and make sure there are no private events scheduled.
Now it’s time to conclude this long, but I hope interesting post.
Don’t miss our next destination: Bassano del Grappa and its surroundings.
See you soon!