Welcome to Padua
Though under an hour from Venice, Padua (Padova in Italian) seems a world away with its medieval marketplaces, Fascist-era facades and hip student population. As a medieval city-state and home to Italy’s second-oldest university, Padua challenged both Venice and Verona for regional hegemony. A series of extraordinary fresco cycles recalls this golden age – including in Giotto’s blockbuster Cappella degli Scrovegni, Menabuoi’s heavenly gathering in the baptistry and Titian’s St Anthony in the Scoletta del Santo. For the next few centuries, Padua and Verona challenged each other for dominance over the Veneto plains. But Venice finally settled the matter by occupying Padua permanently in 1405.
As a strategic military-industrial centre, Padua became a parade ground for Mussolini speeches, an Allied bombing target and a secret Italian Resistance hub (at its university).