PADUA (PADOVA)

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Along the Corso Garibaldi, you come to Piazza Cavour where you can find the Caffè Pedrocchi, an architectural neo-classic masterpiece of 1831, by the architect Jappelli: at the time it was always open, and was characteristic by themed rooms, also by the first organisation of Renaissance meetings.

Shortly after, you’ll see the historical seat, since 1493, of the University, nicknamed “The Bo” after the old hotel originally situated there, The Locanda al Bove. The old “stadium” dating back to 1222, was instantly characterized by students of law and the notary profession, as well as those of medicine, philosophy and grammar.

From the University you can reach Palazzo della Ragione a bulky building, sharing space with Piazza delle Erbe and the Piazza della Frutta – and this last embellishment scantily restored Loggia della Gran Guardia, dal Palazzo del Capitanio e dalla Torre dell’Orologio – obviously, the two market squares of Padova. The main body of the Palazzo della Ragione dates back to 1218, the large dome and external loggias were added in 1306. The main hall – embellished with frescoes from astrological month cycles and wooden horse figures from Gattamelata by Donatello – with its 79 metres in depth, is the largest vaulted room of old architectural history: a true masterpiece of engineering.

From the Piazza delle Erbe, we come to the area of the Duomo (Cathedral) and the old (Battistero (Baptistery): the first construction of the Cathedral dates back to the 12th Century, what you see today, is the reconstruction of 1552 and of the neo-classic period; on the other hand, the Battistero, maintains its Roman characteristics of 1260 and internally still has frescoes from 1378 by Giusto dè Menabuoi, depicting the life of Maria, S. Giovanni (John) and Jesus, and the frescoed dome representing Paradise.

Following the old Roman road, you come to Prato della Valle, 88,620 square metres in dimension, making it the largest square in Europe: completed in 1775 following the reclamation of the land it’s situated on and reflecting perfect illuminist urbanization. It has always been the scene for great events: the first, in August 1808, hosting the first flight of an Italian hot air balloon.
Between the Piazza (square) and the Basilica del Santo (Saints Cathedral) you can find the l’Orto Botanico (Botanical Gardens), one of the most important gardens in the world, which even caught the attention, praise and curiosity of Leonardo da Vinci.

From Prato della Valle, across via Belludi (Belludi road) you can reach the Basilica del Santo, a world Christian centre.
Constructed between 1232 and 1394, and then adding successive phases for its completion. It has a Roman/Gothic style, not forgetting the Islamic and Byzantine touches. The relics of St. Anthony are contained therein, making it a Meta of continual pilgrimage, as well as a place of preservation for masterpieces by the artists Donatello, Altichiero and Giusto Dè Menabuoi.
An equestrian monument, by Donatello, has been erected in the Cathedral’s churchyard. Completed in 1453 and dedicated to the army leader Erasmo da Narni, nicknamed the Gattamelata: one of the masterpieces of the Italian Renaissance.

Going back through via del Santo, you encounter the restored Palazzo Zabarella, luxurious private accommodation, now the main seat for prestigious temporary exhibitions.

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