The Scrovegni Chapel, Piazza delle Erbe, Palazzo della Ragione, Il Santo (St Anthony's Church), the Botanic Garden
ART AND SCIENCE IN PADUA
ART & SCIENCE IN PADUA
Highlights of this tour:
- The Scrovegni Chapel
- Piazza dei Frutti, PIazza delle Erbe & Palazzo della Ragione
- Piazza dei Signori, Palazzo Bo-Padua University
- Caffe’ Pedrocchi
- St Anthony’s Basilica (Il Santo)
- Botanic Garden
Art and science in Padua
This private tour provides an overview of the most representative city highlights, especially the Medieval Age ones, and a pleasant walk through the pedestrian area, where locals shop and stroll every day.
After meeting your guide at the Train Station, we walk to the Scrovegni Chapel, also referred as the Arena Chapel due to the ancient Roman amphitheater once built there.
In 1303 the donor Enrico Scrovegni commissioned the Tuscan painter Giotto a cycle of frescos that are landmarks in the history of Western painting.
The chapel was built in memory of Reginaldo, Enrico’s father, who was included by Dante in the Circle of Usurers!
Quite remarkable is the “Last Judgment” where Enrico himself appears in the composition presenting a model of the chapel to the Virgin Mary.
The setting of this scene become a model for Michelangelo’s “Last Judgment” for the Sistine chapel.
The nearby church of the Eremitani, started in 1276, contains a gorgeous ship-keel wooden ceiling designed by Fra’ Giovanni, and many funerary monuments.
The sanctuary was seriously damaged by a 1944 bombing, and the long restoration works were able to recover the vibrant Andrea Mantegna frescos in the Cappella Ovetari and the ones by Guariento -14th century- in the presbytery area.
As we approach the heart of Medieval Padua, we come across narrow streets lined with brick buildings leading to the commercial and former political city centre, with the two major Squares, Piazza delle Erbe and Piazza della Frutta.
Between the squares stands the 13th century Palazzo della Ragione which preserves the “Salone” on the first floor, a large hall decorated with the signs of the zodiac, the months of the year, constellations and winged characters, referring to astronomy identified with astrology.
The vaulted ground level is used for commercial purposes with butcheries, cafès, and deli stores.
Outside, the two busy squares are filled with fruit and vegetable stalls, a perfect daily market for both residents and tourists.
On the eastern side of the square we admire the Palazzo del Capitanio, once the seat of two Venetian Rectors in Padua.
Built at the turn of the 16th century, it still displays the first public clock in Italy on top of the façade, with the hours, the course of both the Moon and the Sun.
Passed the clock archway we access Piazza del Capitaniato, dating from the 14th century, partly rebuilt in the Renaissance and in the 20th century.
The Faculty of Philosophy and Letters, the Liviano, was designed by Giò Ponti and decorated with a large fresco by Massimo Campigli (1895-1971) and the marble statue of Tito Livio by the sculptor Arturo Martini (1899-1947).
The building also incorporates the Sala dei Giganti with 16th century frescos.
We continue our pleasant walk towards Caffè Pedrocchi, a fancy coffee house in Padua. In the past it was known as “the cafè with no doors” because it was open 24 hours a day….
Built in 1826-31 by the architect Giuseppe Jappelli, it looks Neoclassical with Etruscan style decorations.
Opposite the Pedrocchi is the prestigious seat of Padua University established in 1222, the Palazzo Bò which dates from 1493-1601. It was built on the site of an old inn with a sign in the shape of an ox –Bò in local language- and the name was never changed!
We visit the original Courtyard surrounded by fine Mannerist Loggias, and explore the interior, according to the accessibility.
We admire the Room of the Forty where Galileo Galilei delivered his speeches from a Chair on display, the Aula Magna and the world-famous Theatre of Anatomy, designed by G.Fabrici d’Acquapendente in 1594 and entirely made of wood.
After a short walk we reach the large Piazza del Santo, due to the huge Basilica of St. Anthony, founded in 1232 in order to save the relics of St. Anthony who died in Padua two years earlier.
Due to the popularity of the Franciscan Saint, the sanctuary is one of the most renowned religious destinations in the world.
Based on Romanesque style, it was embellished with Gothic and Eastern decorations over the centuries.
The interior is a shrine of artistic treasuries: the Altar of the Saint and the Treasure, the late 14th century frescos by Altichiero and Giusto de’ Menabuoi, the 12 ft. tall candelabras by Andrea Briosco, and the many bronze plates by Donatello.
The nearby Botanical Garden is the oldest one in Europe, founded by a Professor of Padua University -Francesco Bonafede- in 1545. It preserves an array of exotic and local plants, and the tall palm protected by a glass and metal greenhouse called “Goethe palm”, in honor to the German poet who examined it during his trip to Italy between 1786 and 1788.
In the afternoon it is possible to extend the tour to Praglia Abbey and to Arqua’ Petrarca on the Euganean Hills
Art and science in Padua – more about this tour
Padua (the ancient Patavium, called Padova in Italian) was a flourishing commercial Roman town set in a strategic position on the Po River valley.
After a long period of decline during the barbarian invasions it became one of Italy’s most important self-ruling communities between the 11th and the 14th centuries.
In 1222 a group of students and teachers from the oldest Italian university, Bologna, migrated to Padua, founding the second university in Italy, in the same years of the one in Paris.
It soon became a center of humanist research and was based on a spirit of academic freedom.
The construction of the Basilica of St. Anthony began around 1232, soon after the death of the Saint, and was carried on until 1301.
In 1237, Padua fell in the hands of a tyrant, Ezzellino da Romano, regained its independence in 1256, was then taken by the lords of Verona, and then by the Carrara family in the 1320s.
Giotto was present in Padua at the beginning of the 14th century, when Enrico Scrovegni, a wealthy banker, commissioned him for the decoration of a private chapel.
These frescoes are, together with the huge Basilica devoted to St Anthony,by far the most celebrated landmarks in the city.
This period of history saw the university developing and later (1399) splitting into two separate institutions, a university of law and one of medicine, arts, natural sciences, philosophy and humanities (and later theology).
The Carrara family ruled until 1405, when Padua was conquered by the Venetian Republic.
During this period Padua acted as a cultural bridge, thanks to Donatello and his influence on Andrea Mantegna, bringing Renaissance artistic ideals into still medieval Venice.
Under Venetian rule, particularly in the 15th and 16th centuries, Padua became the top university in Italy.
Venice lured the best available professors from other centers: Galileo, Copernicus, Andrea Vesalio, William Harvey, just to name a few.
Students came both from Italy and from over the Alps (the German student population in particular was huge).
As the University was outside papal control, Jewish students were admitted. More than 200 hundred Jews graduated in medicine here.
In 1678 Elena Lucrezia Cornaro Piscopia became the first woman in the world to obtain a university degree.
The oldest academic botanical garden in Europe was authorized by Venice in 1545, and still survives today.
Padua University currently has more than 65,000 students. The city itself, with more than 200,000 inhabitants, is the financial and industrial capital of the region.
The centuries-old traditions and the significant cultural Heritage are blended with the rhythms of urban life in a lively, vibrant atmosphere.
If you want to learn more about the Veneto region book one of our tours in Verona, Vicenza or Treviso.
Cost of this tour
This tour lasts four hours and costs 360 euros, only for private parties (up to six people)
Museum fees per person are not included on the cost of the tour.
In the afternoon it is possible to extend the tour to Praglia Abbey and to Arqua’ Petrarca on the Euganean Hills.
No shorts, no sleeveless shirts. Knee high skirts and short sleeves are ok!