Padua and the walled cities
A journey through hostory, religion, art, science and nature.
The 'learned' Padua, the Euganean hills, the eternal Medieval of the fortified cities: a refined itinerary encompassing leisure and culture among the verdant Veneto countryside.
For connoiseurs of the art of the Veneto Padua occupies a privileged position, with its distinctive character contrasting with its “elder sisters”, i.e. Venice and Verona.
Every day the solemnity of its monuments merges with the cosmopolitan bustle of the market and the students.
The University here is in fact one of the oldest in Europe, founded in 1222.
Losing oneself in the lanes and alleyways of the centre is the perfect way to capture the spirit of the medieval town which Padua once was and remains, being also the focus of important advances in science and medicine which have changed our lives.
Our tour also explores the religious and devotional spirit which has reigned for 800 years in the Basilica of S. Antonio, the mysterious depictions by Giotto in the Scrovegni Chapel, an absolute masterpiece of 14th centruy art, the judicial face of Padua in its Palazzo della Ragione (the tribunal of 1218), and the learned aspect in the Palazzo del Bo’, the university, where our visit will take in the famous Anatomy Theatre and the podium of Galileo Galilei.
A stop at the famous Caffè Pedrocchi, the café “without doors” (so-called as it never closed) gives us the opportunity to take a refreshing drink and enjoy a premium live jazz performance.
The riches and elegance of the “city of learned doctors” extend also throughout the province, where the vestiges of the medieval tradition continue to embrace and adorn the present.
ESTE. Our visit will begin therefore at the foot of the Paduan plain, at the nerve centre of a highly-important culture already active 3000 years ago, known as the Atestine civilisation: the National Atestine Museum at Este, housed in the Palazzo Mocenigo inside the fortress, displays a wealth of remains and evidence of this ancient culture.
Aside from its prehistoric tradition, it is the Medieval period which imposes itself the most on today’s Este: the 1km encircling walls containing 12 towers and 2 keeps, which embrace the public gardens and museum.
In the city centre we can see the ancient church of San Martino, S. Rocco, theTorre Civica and the majestic Duomo of Santa Tecla containing the masterpiece of Giambatista Tiepolo, “The Intercession of Santa Tecla”.
Afterwards a walk among the luxurious palazzi in Piazza Maggiore dating from the Venetian domination of the city.
MONTAGNANA. Our journey through time proceeds to Montagnana, possibly the most well-preserved Medieval city in the whole of the Veneto region.
The view from the city walls is awe-inspiring.
Along the 2km perimeter we encounter magnificent edifices, among which of note are Porta Legnano (the fortress also known as the Rocca degli Alberi) dating from the 13th century, with its original wooden gates, and the Castello of San Zeno, today home to the Museo Civico.
Moving on to the Duomo we can see the “Transfiguration” of Veronese and the splendid great altar, attributed in all probability to Sansovino.
Leaving the city walls we reach Palazzo Pisani, an exceptionally fine Palladian structure.
Day three takes us north of Padua, to the border of the provinces of Vicenza and Treviso, where we find another perfectly preserved living medieval monument: Citadella, one of the historic symbols of the Veneto.
Since the recent past it has been possible to walk around the entire city walls, starting from Porta Bassano, first visiting the Casa del Capitano, richly furnished in arms and ornaments from the times.
Also on our tour we visit the Palazzo Pretorio to contemplate the “Supper at Emmaus” by Jacopo da Ponte (Bassano).
Our last visit before sampling the local cuisine leads us to the Torre di Malta, where it is said Ezzelino da Romano installed a horrifying torture chamber for the prisoners.
Returning to Padua we visit the ancient parish church of San Donato, situated just outside the city walls.
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