Elegant Padova -- known in English as Padua -- is home to an ancient university, a Basilica that is an important centre for pilgrims and a chapel containing one of the world’s greatest art treasures. Use this website to help you plan a visit to this fascinating northern Italian city and find your way to the other beautiful towns and villages in the Veneto that are perhaps less well known to tourists.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Duomo di Padova


Don’t overlook the importance of the Duomo


While many visitors to Padova flock to see the Basilica di Sant’Antonio, dedicated to the city’s patron saint, and the Scrovegni Chapel, with its remarkable frescoes by Giotto, it is easy to overlook the outwardly plain-looking Duomo.

But Padova’s Cathedral in Piazza del Duomo dates back to the 16th century when a competition was held for architects to design a building that could compete with the Basilica of Sant’Antonio and the Basilica of Santa Giustina.
Padova's 16th century Duomo.

Among the architects who entered were Jacopo Sansovino, Michelangelo and Andrea da Valle
.
It is thought that Michelangelo’s designs won the competition but that the building work was entrusted to Andrea da Valle to oversee. However, over the centuries many other architects also contributed to the work.

The Basilica Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta, referred to in Padova as the Duomo, was finally consecrated in 1754 with its façade left unfinished.

The nave is flanked by an aisle on each side and there are four chapels in the right aisle and five in the left with two great cupolas over the nave.

The Canons’ Sacristry to the left of the Presbytery houses a small, but very interesting art gallery.

The Presbytery contains two magnificently preserved organs by Gaetano Callida and down a flight of steps, the crypt holds the remains of Saint Daniel.

The present Duomo is the third structure to have been built on the site. The first was erected in 313 and destroyed by an earthquake in the 12th century. The church was rebuilt in Romanesque style and visitors to the Baptistery next door can see how it would have looked in the 14th century, as it appears in the frescoes executed at that time by Giusto dè Menaboui.

The north door of the current Duomo leads out to Via Dietro Duomo, the street behind the Duomo, where the building at Numbers 26 – 28 was once the home of the poet, Francesco Petrarch, while he was a canon of the Cathedral of Padua.

The Duomo has been the seat of the Bishop of Padova since the fourth century.


Sunday, January 15, 2017

La Lanterna Pizzeria Ristorante Padova


Enjoy a taste of the Mediterranean at long-established Padova restaurant 


In a good position in Piazza dei Signori in the centre of Padova, La Lanterna Pizzeria Ristorante has been serving up delicious, Mediterranean-inspired dishes for more than fifty years.
La Lanterna in Piazza dei Signori

The many speciality dishes on the menu are influenced by the origins of the owner, Signor Antonio Ruggiero, who comes from Salerno in Campania.

The atmosphere of the restaurant is very welcoming and the staff are friendly and always delighted to describe the ingredients used in the many tempting dishes on offer.

The menu has a wide range of antipasti, a good selection of pasta dishes, traditional fish dishes, such as branzino and orata, and classic meat dishes, such as filetto al pepe verde (fillet steak in a green pepper sauce) and scaloppine al marsala (veal marsala).

The pizza oven serves up all the classics, as well as some adventurous concoctions, on bases made in the traditional style of the city where the pizza was born, Naples.

There is a good choice of reasonably-priced wines as well as a selection of spirits and soft drinks.

Speciality dishes include scampi alla griglia, pacheri allo scoglio (tube-shaped pasta with sea food) and pizza mediterraneo.
Tagliatelle alla Lanterna 

The Best of Padova editor says: ‘My favourite pasta dish is Tagliatelle alla Lanterna, which is tagliatelle served with prawns in a delicious, creamy, tomato sauce, and I particularly enjoyed the local white wine I had ordered to go with it.’

La Lanterna Pizzeria Ristorante is on the right side of Piazza dei Signori as you look towards Palazzo del Capitano, with its elegant Torre dell’Orologio, a tower that houses clockworks that are believed to be the oldest still in existence in Italy.

La Lanterna is just a short walk away from Piazza dei Frutti and Piazza delle Erbe and is also close to the Duomo.

For more information about the restaurant, visit www.lalanternapadova.it.

La Lanterna is open from 12.00 to 15.00 and from 18.00 to 24.00 and is closed on Thursdays. 

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Anniversary of the death of Tullio Levi-Civita

Professor from Padova was admired by Einstein


Tullio Levi-Civita
Tullio Levi-Civita
Tullio Levi-Civita, the mathematician renowned for his work in differential calculus and relativity theory, died on this day in 1941.

With the collaboration of Gregorio Ricci Curbastro, his professor at the University of Padova, Levi-Civita wrote a pioneering work on the calculus of tensors. Albert Einstein is said to have used this work as a resource in the development of the theory of general relativity.

Levi-Civita corresponded with Einstein about his theory of relativity between 1915 and 1917 and the letters received from Einstein, carefully kept by Levi-Civita, show how much the two men respected each other.

Years later, when asked what he liked best about Italy, Einstein is reputed to have said ‘spaghetti and Levi-Civita.’

The mathematician, who was born into an Italian Jewish family in Padova in 1873, became an instructor at the University of Padova in 1898 after completing his own studies.

He became a professor of rational mechanics there in 1902 and married one of his own students, Libera Trevisani, in 1914.

In 1917, having been inspired by Einstein’s theory of general relativity, Levi-Civita made his most important contribution to this branch of mathematics, the introduction of the concept of parallel displacement in general curved spaces.

Einstein's theory of general relativity drew on some of Tullio Levi-Civita's work
Einstein's theory of general relativity drew
on some of Tullio Levi-Civita's work
This concept immediately found many applications and in relativity is the basis of the unified representation of electromagnetic and gravitational fields. In pure mathematics his concept was instrumental in the development of modern differential geometry.

Levi-Civita also worked in the fields of hydrodynamics and engineering. He made great advances in the study of collisions in the three-body problem, which involves the motion of three bodies as they revolve around each other.

His books on these subjects became standard works for mathematicians and his collected works were published in four volumes in 1954.

Levi-Civita was invited by Einstein to visit him in Princeton in America and he lived there for a while in 1936, returning to Italy with war looming.

He was removed from his post at the University of Rome in 1938 by the Fascist regime because of his Jewish origins, having taught there since 1918.

Deprived of his professorship and his membership of all academic societies by the Fascists, Levi-Civita became isolated from the scientific world and in 1941 he died at his apartment in Rome, aged 68.

The main building of the University of Padua can be found in Via VIII Febbraio
The main building of the University of Padova can
be found in Via VIII Febbraio
The University of Padova, where Levi-Civita studied and later taught, was established in 1222 and is one of the oldest in the world, second in Italy only to the University of Bologna. The main university building, Palazzo del Bò in Via VIII Febbraio in the centre of Padova, used to house the medical faculty.

You can take a guided tour to see the pulpit used by Galileo when he taught at the university between 1592 and 1610.

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Friday, October 7, 2016

Feast of Saint Giustina

Today Padova celebrates the feast day of Santa Giustina, evoking the memory of a young woman executed on this day in 304 during the Roman Empire's last major purge of Christians.

Giustina, in a painting here by Bartolomeo  Montagna, hailed from a noble family
Giustina, in a painting here by Bartolomeo
Montagna, hailed from a noble family
Giustina was born into a noble family in Padova but little is known about her apart from her faith. A pretty girl who would have had many suitors, she took a vow of chastity and devoted her life instead to God, and to teaching the values of Christianity.

She was a victim of the purge of Christians undertaken by the Emperor Diocletian, the last major attempt to stamp out what was regarded by the Romans as a subversive cult.

He was carrying out an edict that rescinded all legal rights for Christians and compelled Christians to sacrifice to Roman gods or face imprisonment or execution.

What became known as the Diocletian Persecution concentrated first on purging the Roman military of Christians and then broadened to the population in general.

When Diocletian's officers confronted Giustina in Padova, they ordered her to go to the Roman temple to Minerva to worship the Roman goddess, offer her virginity as sacrifice and renounce Christianity.

Because she refused to do so and denounced the Roman gods, Giustina was condemned to death.  The execution is said to have taken place at Pontecorvo, where she was stabbed through the heart with a sword.

The vast Basilica di Santa Giustina overlooks Prato della Valle, one of Padova's main squares
The vast Basilica di Santa Giustina overlooks Prato della
Valle, one of Padova's main squares
Within a few years, following the Edict of Milan in 313, Christianity had been made legal within the Roman Empire for the first time.

It came too late for Giustina, whose body was buried in a cemetery near what was then the Zairo Roman theatre and now lies beneath the altar table in the magnificent Basilica di Santa Giustina, with its eight domes, which was built the 16th century on the site of the cemetery.

The ninth largest Christian church in the world, the basilica houses the remains of many revered saints, including those of St Luke the Evangelist, who is credited with writing the Gospel According to St Luke.

Giustina is a patron saint of many other Italian municipalities in addition to Padova and a co-patron saint of Venice, where she became extremely popular for a number of years following the Battle of Lepanto in 1571.

This was a naval battle between a coalition of Catholic maritime states brought together by Pope Pius V and the Turkish fleet which took place on her feast day - October 7 - and which was decisive in halting the expansion of the Ottoman Empire on the European side of the Mediterranean.

The Basilica di Santa Giustina is situated at the south-east corner of the elliptical piazza known as Prato della Valle.  Among many things worth seeing is a magnificent altarpiece painted by Paolo Veronese in 1575, depicting the moment of her death.

Next door to the basilica there is a Benedictine monastery with frescoed cloisters and a famous library that can be visited by arrangement. Admission to the basilica is free. It is open from 7.30am until noon and from 3pm until 6.30pm (7.30pm on Sundays).

Prato della Valle, built on the site of a former Roman  theatre,  is notable for its 78 statues of eminent citizens of Padova
Prato della Valle, built on the site of a former Roman  theatre,
 is notable for its 78 statues of eminent citizens of Padova
The Prato della Valle is built on the site of the Zairo theatre on land which fell into disuse and became flooded following the fall of the Roman Empire.  The land was drained in the 18th century and a canal crossed by four bridges was created around an island planted with trees and lawns, which was later lined by statues of 78 eminent citizens of Padova.

The nearby Ristorante Zairo contains statues and wall decorations that recall the chariot races and other activities that would have taken place in the theatre. Diners can also see a 17th century fresco that came to light when renovations uncovered part of the structure of a former church.

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Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Death of artist Andrea Mantegna


The painter Andrea Mantegna, who made a major contribution to Padova’s rich art collection, died on this day in 1506.

Mantegna was one of a large group of painters entrusted with decorating the Ovetari Chapel in the Church of the Eremitani in Padova.

Part of Mantegna's cycle depicting the Martyrdom
 of San Giacomo. Now partially restored, it
can again be seen in the Ovetari Chapel.
Much of his work was damaged when the Allied forces bombed Padova in 1944, but his paintings of The Assumption and the Martrydom of Saint Christopher survived and others have been painstakingly restored.

Other early work by Mantegna can be seen in the Basilica of Sant’Antonio and in the Church of Santa Giustina in Padova.

Mantegna was born at Isola di Cartura near Padova in about 1431, a village just outside Piazzola sul Brenta, which has now been renamed Isola Mantegna. 

He was apprenticed by the age of 11 to the painter Francesco Squarcione in Padua, who had a fascination for ancient art and encouraged him to study fragments of Roman sculptures.

After eventually parting company with Squarcione, the artist came under the influence of Jacopo Bellini, the father of Giovanni and Gentile Bellini, and in 1453 he married Jacopo’s daughter, Nicolosia.

By 1459 he had moved on to Verona, where he painted a grand altarpiece for the Church of San Zeno.

The following year he was appointed court artist by the Marquis Ludovico III Gonzaga of Mantua. His frescoes for the Bridal Chamber (Camera degli Sposi) at the Palazzo Ducale in Mantua were to influence many artists who followed him because of his innovative use of perspective.

They are considered among his best works and depict the life of Ludovico Gonzaga and his family.The beautiful backgrounds of imaginary cities and ruins reflect Mantegna’s love of classical architecture. 

He introduced spatial illusion with his painting of the ceiling, which although flat appears concave. This technique was followed by other artists for centuries.

Mantegna was also to become famous for his religious paintings, such as St Sebastian, which is now in the Louvre in Paris, and The Agony in the Garden, which is now in the National Gallery in London. 

The artist painted nine pictures of the Triumphs of Caesar, drawing on his classical knowledge, which are also considered by experts to be among his finest works. These were sold in 1628 to King Charles I of England and are now in Hampton Court Palace.

After his death at about the age of 75, Mantegna’s sons set up a monument to him in the Church of Sant’Andrea in Mantua.

The 15th century Basilica of Sant’Andrea is in Piazza Mantegna. The artist’s tomb is in the first chapel on the left, where there is a painting of the Holy Family and John the Baptist by Mantegna.

The church was originally built to accommodate the large number of pilgrims who came to Mantua to see a precious relic, an ampoule containing what were believed to be drops of Christ’s blood mixed with earth. This was claimed to have been collected at the site of his crucifixion by a Roman soldier.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Padova's link with St Lawrence of Brindisi


St Lawrence of Brindisi studied at the University of Padova
St Lawrence of Brindisi studied at
the University of Padova
St Lawrence of Brindisi, who was born Giulio Cesare Russo on this day in 1559 in Brindisi, has strong connections with Padova, having studied at the city's ancient University.

Lawrence was born into a family of Venetian merchants and was sent to Venice to be educated.  He joined the Capuchin order in Verona when he was 16, taking the name Brother Lawrence.

He became a Roman Catholic priest and received tuition in theology, philosophy and foreign languages from the University of Padova. He progressed to be able to speak many European and Semitic languages fluently.

Pope Clement VIII gave Lawrence the task of converting Jews living in Rome to Catholicism because of his excellent command of Hebrew. Lawrence also established Capuchin monasteries in Germany and Austria and brought many Protestants back to Catholicism.

He was made St Lawrence in 1881, remembered for his bravery while serving as the imperial chaplain to the Holy Roman Emperor, Rudolph II.

The statue of St Lawrence at the Convent of Capuchin Friars in Rovigo
The statue of St Lawrence at the Convent of
Capuchin Friars in Rovigo
He led an army against the Ottoman Turks threatening to conquer Hungary armed only with a crucifix and many people attributed the subsequent victory to his leadership.

Lawrence was beatified in 1783 by Pope Pius VI and canonised in 1881 by Pope Leo XIII. He was declared a doctor of the Church by Pope John XXIII in 1959.

The annual feast day of St Lawrence took place yesterday, on 21 July.

There is a statue of St Lawrence bearing a crucifix at the Convento Frati Cappuccini at Rovigo, some 50km south of Padova.

The University of Padova was established in 1222 and is one of the oldest in the world, second in Italy only to the University of Bologna.

The main university building, Palazzo del Bò in Via VIII Febbraio in the centre of the city, used to house the medical faculty. You can take a guided tour to see the pulpit used by Galileo when he taught at the university between 1592 and 1610.

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Monday, February 8, 2016

Via VIII Febbraio Padova


An uprising against the Austrian occupying forces, when students and ordinary citizens fought side by side, took place in Padova on 8 February in 1848.
A street in the centre of the city is now named Via VIII Febbraio to commemorate the revolt against the Austrian soldiers, when both the University of Padova and Caffè Pedrocchi briefly became battlegrounds.
Shots were fired inside Caffè Pedrocchi

The Padova rebellion was one of a series of revolutions in Italy during 1848, which had started with the Sicilian uprising in January.
The Austrians were seen as arrogant and aggressive by ordinary citizens and the ideas of Mazzini and Cavour about a united Italy were becoming popular with progressive thinkers.
Students and professors had been meeting in rooms at the University and in Caffè Pedrocchi to discuss their discontent.
The uprising began with the storming of a prison and prisoners being set free. Then many ordinary citizens came to fight alongside the students against the armed Austrians, who clubbed the Padovans with their guns as well as firing at them.
You can still see a hole in the wall of the White Room inside Caffè Pedrocchi made by a bullet fired by an Austro-Hungarian soldier at the students.
Padovan students and citizens and some Austrian soldiers were killed and wounded in the fighting. Many people were arrested by the soldiers and in a crackdown later, some students and professors were expelled from the university.
The revolt was short lived and there was no other rebellion against the Austrians in Padova. But the 8 February uprising was thought to have encouraged Charles Albert of Savoy, King of Sardinia-Piedmont, to later declare war on Austria.
A courtyard inside the university

In 1866 Italy finally expelled the Austrians from the Veneto and Padova became annexed to the Kingdom of Italy .
Caffè Pedrocchi has been a meeting place for business people, students, intellectuals and writers for nearly 200 years. Founded by coffee maker Antonio Pedrocchi in 1831, the café was designed in neoclassical style and each side is edged with Corinthian columns.
It quickly became a centre for the Risorgimento movement and was popular with students and artists because of its location close to Palazzo del Bò, the main university building. It became known as ‘the café without doors’, as it was open day and night for people to sit and read, play cards or debate.
Caffè Pedrocchi is now a Padova institution and a 'must see' sight for visitors. You can enjoy coffee, drinks and snacks all day in the elegant surroundings.
The University of Padova was established in 1222 and is one of the oldest in the world, second in Italy only to the University of Bologna. The main university building, Palazzo del Bò in Via VIII Febbraio in the centre of Padua, used to house the medical faculty. You can take a guided tour to see the pulpit used by Galileo when he taught at the university between 1592 and 1610.