If you’re wondering what to do in Padua and you can’t find your car keys, your wallet or your watch, then a trip to the Basilica di Sant’Antonio may well be in order. Dedicated to St. Anthony, the patron saint of all lost things, this Basilica is one of the eight international shrines recognized by the Holy See and it’s a beaut. The lack of a precise architectural style means that the structure is a sprawling mixture of Romanesque, Byzantine and Gothic elements and features. All the more for you to relish as you wander around it. Inside is a real treat too. After you’ve had a good gander at the frescoes and sculptures by the likes of Ferrara, Briosco and Donatello, move on to the ornate Baroque Treasury Chapel to marvel at the Relics of St. Anthony. Oh, and don’t forget to check out St. Anthony tongue which is on display in an elaborate gold reliquary.
Mio Dio! The Cappella degli Scrovegni is the pinnacle of Padua sightseeing. Don’t be fooled, behind the walls of this little church’s modest exterior is a world unto its own and to visit Padua and not see inside would be a grave mistake. Consecrated in 1305 the Cappella degli Scrovegni was commissioned by Enrico Scrovegni who sought atonement for his father who stood accused of usury. The interior is a color compendium detailing the life of the Virgin Mary, the life of Jesus Christ and the story of the Passion. To enter the room is to become immersed in Giotto’s frescoes. They have the same overwhelming power as visiting the Sistine Chapel without anywhere near the same hassle. You could easily spend hours marveling at the beautifully intricate and detailed paintings, which remain in fantastic condition if it weren
The Orto Botanico di Padova is the oldest botanical garden still in its original location. The Botanical gardens in Pisa are in fact a year younger. But, they up and relocated and so, had to give up the title. The Padua University medical faculty established this sprawling collection of plant life in 1545. Here, you can explore the grounds and over 6000 plant species (imagine all the different colors), many of which have medicinal properties. Collections include insectivorous plants, that’s right, the carnivores of the plant world and an impressive variety of aquatic plants which when flowering in the summer months are one of the most popular Padua attractions. It’s also home to a palm tree from 1585 as well as other tree species that date as far back to 1680. These gardens are a fantastic alternative to the main Padua sights and make for a delightful visit any time of the year.
Overlooking the two squares is one of the town’s iconic monuments, Palazzo Della Ragione. As you stroll around, you can dive deep into the exploration of ancient churches, chapels, and more historical piazzas. Make sure not to miss out on Palazzo Bo which serves as the principal office of the prestigious Università di Padova. It’s the second oldest university in Italy and excels in both sciences and culture!
Besides the incredible, monumental heritage, Padua has access to many notable cultural and natural attractions such as the Euganean Springs, Euganean Hills, its well-preserved Medieval walls, ancient noble residences, castles and a lovely patchwork countryside. The Euganean Hills are a real treasure chest of experiences and wonders boasting green valleys and vineyard-covered hills which are as beautiful in spring as in the Auburn colors of fall. It’s an authentic oasis of natural life with an unusually rich flora.
Indeed, it’s unlikely you will get bored exploring. For more tips, ideas, and inspiration on what to do in Padova, scroll through the suggestions below!