Close to the remarkable and unique city of Venice, truly one of the wonders of the world, is the beautiful and important town of Padua, known to locals as Padova.
Home to some quite glorious architectural delights and offering a glimpse of unspoilt Italy, Padua is popular with tourists thanks to its own attractions and those of Venice and the surrounding region, and it is strongly recommended that visitors hire a car to explore this fabulous and beautiful part of Italy.
The convenience of a hire car in Venice means you can plan your excursions in your own time, and with many fine towns and villages in close proximity to Padua, being able to get from place to place makes a vacation complete.
Padua is perfectly placed as the ideal base for a holiday in northern Italy, and lays claim to being the oldest city in the region. The city is said to date back over 3000 years, and features a wealth of medieval buildings that represent the growth of the city in more modern times.
A pretty and largely unspoilt city with many interlinked cobbled streets and bridges over the Bacchiglione River, which runs through the city, Padua is a pleasure to explore, and visitors will delight in the many restaurants, cafes and bars that abound, as well as the glorious piazzas and quaint old buildings.
One of the most important buildings in the region, the Scrovegni Chapel is an iconic sight in Padua, and is more than 700 years old.
The chapel is home to a famous fresco by the master artist Giotto which relates to the story of the Virgin Mary, and these paintings are now considered so valuable and important that visitors are required to wait in an air-locked area in order that the room can be climate controlled. It is, we must say, well worth the wait.
Address: Piazza Eremitani, 8, 35121 Padova PD
Also important is the Basilica of St Anthony (Basilica di Sant'Antonio), a glorious and extremely ornamental church in which the bones of the saint lie, and which is also home to some stunning and important artworks.
Address: Piazza del Santo, 11, 35123 Padova
For sheer scale nothing can match the glorious Prato della Valle, a magnificent square that is central to Padua, and which is the largest in all of Italy.
With its stunning gardens and many interesting statues – indeed, Padua is a city with a wealth of sculptural delights formed by some of the legendary names in Italian art – this is a wonderful place to take a break.
Address: Via Michele Sanmicheli, 49, 35123 Padova PD
Such is the breadth of diversity of Padua that recommending places to visit can be difficult, but we certainly advise a visit to the UNESCO World Heritage site that is the Orto Botanico, a stunning garden that is famed for its many rare and interesting plants.
Address: Via Orto Botanico, 15, 35123 Padova PD
A simple journey of some 54km, it should take less than an hour in average traffic. Drivers should take the main A57 autoroute from Venice Marco Polo Airport, and then the E70 before following the SR47 for a short distance directly into Padua itself.
A city with much in the way of diversity, and one offering the rare chance to see many works by artists as famous as Giotto and Donatello, Padua is a great choice for a romantic break or a family holiday, and the surrounding region opens up the possibility of exploring some of the most beautiful parts of Italy by road, including Venice itself.