Italian Adventures: Visiting Padua

pontifical basilica of saint anthony of padua veneto italy
Photo by Arbi Nina on

Today we’re continuing our Italian Adventures by taking the train from Verona to Padua to explore this ‘miraculous’ city that predates Rome.

Visiting Padua…with a few fun facts and history before beginning our tour.

Facts about Padua:

  • Padua is one of the oldest cities in Italy. It was founded in 1183 BC, which makes it 430 years older than Rome.
  • Padua was mentioned in Virgil’s Aeneid. According to his historic epic, Padua was founded by Antenor who wa a Trojan prince and counselor of King Priam of Troy. It was Antenor who advocated for Helen to be returned to the Greeks
    • I don’t know how accurate the myth is but you can see Antenor’s Tomb at the city center near the Palazzo Bo (it has been disputed its his body, but hey who doesn’t enjoy a bit of legend)
  • Padua was a Roman ally as early as 226 BC and was eventually absorbed by Rome in 49 BC
  • The important Via Annia Road from Rome crossed with the city and was an important crossroads of commerce
  • By 1st century BC, Padua was the second richest city in Italy (after Rome). It had 40,000 inhabitants and made most of its money off of the wool industry and horse breeding

Unfortunately the city fell on hard times when:

  • Just before the fall of the Western Rome Empire in 476 AD, Padua was invaded by Attila the Hun in 450 AD.
  • The Lombards took over, but it was not completely peaceful…In 01 there was an uprising and many fled to Venice.
  • They were again invaded in 899 by The Magyars who cruelly pillaged the city and most of the Roman heritage with it.
    • Interested in seeing what’s left of Padua’s Roman heritage? Check out an underground tour of the medieval town hall Palazzo della Ragione.
  • Padua was independently ruled from the 11th-early 13th centuries
  • In 1222, Padua opened the second oldest university (after Parma) in Italy.
  • In the 13th century Padua was run by the cruel warlord Ezzelino III da Romano. Dante depicts Romano in the depts of Hell in his Divine Comedy.
  • In 1405, Padua became part of Venice and like Verona you’ll find The Venetian Lion of St. Mark watching over the city.
  • It was briefly ruled under Napoleon (1797) before it became part of Austria and eventually the united Italy in 1866.

Things to see:

Palazzo Bo:

When Visiting Padua you must stop at The University Padua, which is the second oldest university in Italy. Since 1222 they have been educating and inspiring minds to think, create and solve.

The University of Padua’s historic seat is at Palazzo Bo (or the Bo Palace). The University has a long list of distinguished professors including: Galileo, Nicholas Copernicus, Francis Walsingham and so many more.

The Palazzo Bo is home to the world’s first permanent anatomical theatre, which was constructed in 1594. Science and medical students could learn by watching dissections of human corpses through 1872. This was illegal in many areas of Europe, but the church and state gave permission as long as it was for scientific purposes and the corpses were foreign criminals (yikes!)

The University continues to be a premier seat of education and an integral part of the community.


Check out Palazzo della Ragione, an early 13th-century medieval town hall. This is where life and death decisions were made – literally.

  • For centuries this was where tribunals were held to decide the fate of Padua and its citizens.
  • It still serves as a gathering place and market today where you find everything from fresh food, wine and gelato
  • The Palazzo’s interior includes a museum with amazing art and history.
  • The Palazzo is a must see when visiting Padua because it showcases one of the finest Medieval buildings in Italy while inviting you to interact with the history
  • It is easily accessible and divides Padua’s two largest piazzas (Piazza della Erbe and Piazza della Fruta)

Speaking of Piazzas – you can enjoy Paduan life from an Aperol Spritz to Espresso in Piazza della Erbe (historical heart of Padua) or the nearby Piazza della Fruta.

Stroll these ancient streets and immerse yourself in Italian culture.

Speaking of Culture…I’m a museum lover and Padua offers plenty of museums to whet your curiosity. Here are a few to explore:

  • Musei Civici Emermitani: complex of museums and historic sites centered on the former convent of Eremitani. It includes on of our upcoming stops – The Scrovegni Chapel with Giotto masterpieces
Guariento’s St. Michael in the Musei Civici

After touring the museum’s if you get lost, well you can FIND yourself at The Basilica of St. Anthony

St. Anthony is my go to saint for helping me find my keys, wallet…Saint Anthony is the Patron of Lost things and has done many miracles in Jesus name. While he was born in Portgual, he spent most of his life in the Padua region serving the poor and preaching The Gospel.

His body is at The Basilica and pilgrimmage stop for many faithful.

We’ll tour The Basilica of St. Anthony and The Scrovegni Chapel in our next posts.

Until then Ciao! Arrivederci

Don’t forget to subscribe for the latest blog posts. You can also find us on facebook!

The Purpose of American Nomad…to share the love of travel, history, art and adventure with everyone. Written by Adele L. who is based in NC. Adele has a background in history, art and software sales. She is the author of romance novel Solitude Lake under her pen name Adele Darcy.

Leave a Reply