Padua, an hour distance from Venice, is a world away with its medieval marketplaces, Fascist-era facades and hip student population. As a medieval city state and home to Italy’s second-oldest university, Padua challenged both Venice and Verona for regional hegemony.
Cappella degli Scrovegni
The Cappella degli Scrovegni houses is a Padua’s version of the Sistine Chapel, one of Italy’s great Renaissance masterpieces. It is a striking piece of Giotto frescoes, the artist who ended the Dark Ages with his paintings, whose humanistic depiction of biblical figures was especially well suited to the chapel commissioned in memory of his father. It’s a simple brick building, with little indication from the outside of what lies within. It took Giotto two years to finish the frescoes, which tells the story of Christ from Annunciation to Ascension.
Basilica di Sant’Antonio
This huge church which is a pilgrimage site and the burial place of St Anthony of Padua was begun in 1232,with a polyglot style incorporating rising eastern domes,on the top of a Gothic brick structure packed with Renaissance treasures. Dozens of people clusters on a daily basis to the Cappella del Santo, where Anthony’s tomb is kept and covers the tomp with requests and thanks for the saint’s intercession in curing illness and recovering lost objects. The chapel itself is a light-filled Renaissance confection lined with nine panels vividly depicting the story of Anthony’s life in extraordinary relief sculptures.
This botanical garden planted in 1545 by Padua University’s medical faculty to study the medicinal properties of rare plants was listed as a World Heritage and becomes a must visit place of Padua. The Orto Botanico has also served as a clandestine Resistance meeting headquarters during WWII. The oldest tree here which dates back to 1585 is nicknamed ‘Goethe’s palm’. A much more recent addition is the high-techGarden of Biodiversity, five interconnected greenhouses that recreate different climate zones and explore botanical and environmental themes through multimedia displays