Padua: still a lot to see...

By: Tatyana Kogut.
Padua, or Padova, is a very old city. It grew from a small fishing village to become one of the main cities of the Veneti region. It is also the motherland for one of the oldest European universities and a huge scientific and cultural centres of the Medieval. Narrow medieval stone-paved streets running from Prato della Valle will help you feel its charming atmosphere. In his novel ?Across the River and Into the Trees? Ernest Hemingway wrote that whenever you cross the bridge or pass the station at Padua, there are ruins all around. That's right, the Second World War has changed Padua's looks and the whole territory from the railway to the city centre is occupied by after-war buildings  such a pity since there was really a lot to look at there. Luckily, the central and the southern parts of the city were untouched by the bombings, that's why Padua  which, unfortunately, is often left aside from the popular travel routes  deserves your attention. Though, its true for the whole Italy, especially for its north  each city has something to show. One of Padua's advantages is that it is easily accessible by train, bus or car from Venice, Milan, Verona, Bologna and Mantua.

The city's main attraction is the Basilica of Saint Anthony, decorated with frescos by Altichiero da Zevio along with the bronze Madonna with Child, and six statues of Saints by Donatello. St Anthony's relics are kept in the richly decorated Treasury Chapel. Another work by Donatello is the equestrian monument of the Condottiero Gattamelata in front of the Basilica.But those are not its architectiral treasures that you should see in Padua in the first place. First, visit its renowned Pedrocchi Cafè  one of the biggest cafes in the world. Everything is symbolic here: its location close to the second oldest univerisity  the hotbed for free thinking, as usually; its neoclassic style with antique-style porticos; its interior, with Egyptian, Eastern and other halls mixing luxury and naïvety. All in all, it is no wonder why its here that in the 40th of the XIX century the students' riots took place, thanks to which the Austrians were pushed out from the Italian territory. Another war. One of the halls contains a bullet hole, and opposite it there is a quotation from Stendhal's ?The Charterhouse of Parma? describing the cafe. The menu contains lots of cocktails made of hot coffee and cold liquers  and you can hardly find a place where they would be prepared and mixed so excuisitely. Then you can wander around the city, look into the Saint Anthony church, marvel at people's deep belief (there are many thank-you letters lying on the saint's sepulchre), then go to the Eremitani church and the Scrovegni Chapel. Don't forget, this must be the exact order. First, you have to see the beauty of what was the Mantegna frescoes  tiny pieces that survived the bombings. And then, go 200 meters farther to the Chapel where 700 years ago Giotto laid foundation to the Western art. The chapel was financed by the wealthy banker Enrico Scrovegni, to make satisfaction for sins of his father, a money-lender. He commissioned Giotto to decorate the chapel. The artist created 37 frescoes, known for the use of vivid colours. And, finally, don't miss Palazzo del Bò, which houses the University of Padua. Many famous persons like Dante Alighieri, Francesco Petrarca and Galileo Galilei worked here.

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