Best reasons to Visit: Basilica di Sant'Antonio (shown on right), Giotto frescos, Europe's first Botanical Garden.
Padova is a walled city situated along the Bachiglione River between Verona and Venice. If you come by train, the Station (Stazione Ferroviania) is on the north side of town. The Basilica and Botanical gardens are found on the southern edge of town. Either the Corso del Popolo or the Viale Codalunga heading south will take you into the old center of town.
Padua Attractions in a Nutshell
The Basilica Pontificia di Sant'Antonio di Padova, sometimes called La Basilica del Santo is not Padova's main church--an honor that falls to the Duomo, also called the Cathedral-Basilica of St. Mary of Padua. But Sant'Antonio is the one you need to visit. Construction began around 1232, a year after the death of Sant'Antonio; his relics are found in the baroque Treasury Chapel. There is a museum inside, the Anthonaian Museum. There is another exhibit where you can learn about the life of Saint Anthony and the continuation of his work today.
Places to stroll: The university on the east side of Via III Febbraio (the anatomy theater, built in 1594, is the oldest of its kind), Piazza Cavour, the city's heart.
When it's time for a drink, head on over to the 18th century Pedrocchi Café; the elegant bar and restaurant had a role in the 1848 riots against the Hapsburg monarchy.
Just behind Sant'Antonio is Padua's fantastic Orto Botanico, which you'll see on page two.
Where to Stay
I prefer to stay near the train station, so I chose the Hotel Monaco right in front. Its walk-up charge was less than quoted on the website. The hotel is air conditioned but rather drab. The breakfast was a cut above the usual coffee and bread affair at cheaper hotels.
A highly rated B&B in Padua is the centrally located Gioia.
Hotels Near the Basilica
Two hotels in quiet locations near the Basilica are the Hotel Ristorante Al Fagiano at Via Antonio Locatelli 45 where a double room goes for around €80. The Hotel Buenos Aires has changed its name to Belludi 37. It's on Via L. Belludi 37 and charges 93-103 for a double. (Tel. +39-049-665633 - Fax: +39-049-658685.) Both are two-star hotels. For other user-rated Padua hotels, see Venere (book direct)
Food in Padova is a cut above the average fare in Venice. The best food is simple and made from fresh ingredients.
Our very favorite restaurant in Padua is the Osteria Dal Capo on Via Dei Soncin, across the piazza del Duomo. Via Dei Soncin is a narrow, alley-like street directly across the piazza from the front of the Duomo. The sign on the door says the Dal Capo opens at 6pm, but ignore it, they won't serve you until 7:30 pm. Moderate prices, good house wine. The menu changes daily and features typical Veneto cuisine. English is spoken, although it's best if you know a little Italian.
Before dinner you might try going for an aperitivo (cocktail, try the typical Italian Campari soda) at one of the two cafes that compete for customers in the Piazza Capitaniato to the north of the Duomo. One you'll notice attracts the young folk, the other the older crowd. There is a wine bar further north on the Via Dante.
Padua and Venice
Padua is one of the prettiest cities in Europe, although lightly touristed. Visit Padua through our Padua Picture Gallery.