Hello my dear readers,
How is your week going? August is almost over….can you imagine? Times really fly…make sure you don’t waste it 😉
As promised in my last post, today I’ll take you almost in my home backyard, let’s discover Padua.
At the center of the Venetian lowland, between the lagoon, the hills and the Prealps, is the province of Padua, a rich set of art, culture, flavors and traditions.
Padua is one of the oldest and at the same time most dynamic cities in Italy. Founded over 3000 years ago in a bend of the Brenta river, it is today a modern and cosmopolitan city, particularly renowned for its historic and glorious university and for its countless works of art.
Visiting the province of Padua means discovering a land surprisingly rich in history, culture, vitality and ingenuity, characterized by a great variety of places to see, flavors to be tasted, people to meet. A territory where industrious people have always known how to renew the historical and cultural tradition.
In the heart of the province is Padua, a dynamic and vital city, with a vast historical and monumental heritage, and surrounded by so many places to discover: the Euganean Spas, the largest thermal basin in Europe, known internationally for the precious healing properties of water, and today also used in the most modern wellness, beauty and fitness treatments, the Euganean Hills, a treasure chest of wonders, green valleys and rolling hills of extraordinary botanical richness with an ideal micro-climate for the cultivation of vineyards and olive groves, and other naturalistic oases, the picturesque medieval walled cities, the castles, the villas, the dense network of expanses countryside and waterways that descend to the east until they reach the lagoon.
A land to live in all its forms, even navigating along the vast network of rivers. Between Padua and Venice along the charming Brenta river, a trip is an unforgettable experience, a journey into the past, when the lords and nobles of Venice used these typical boats to reach their holiday residences, simple buildings transformed in magnificent architectural works from the genius of artists such as Palladio, Preti and Scamozzi.
A tour of the walled cities is also striking, a sign of the long medieval history lived by Padua and its lands. Cittadella, Este, Monselice and Montagnana are ideal places to relive the atmosphere of the past, the palios and the rides that animate these ancient towns every year.
A millenary history that is also found in the art of good wine and good food. Here the origins of viticulture are very ancient. The cultivation techniques were then refined over the centuries to reach the high levels of quality of our days. I guess you all heard about the wines from Veneto region right?
The ideal way to visit the historic center of Padua is by walking along the arcaded streets and crossing the beautiful squares and ancient bridges.
A perfect starting point are the squares, Piazza delle Erbe and Piazza dei Frutti, which for centuries have been home to the daily fruit and vegetable market, offering a cross-section of city life dedicated to commerce but also to opportunities for meeting and socializing. I love having a stroll in these squares, buying local and fresh fruits and vegetables and enjoying a good tramezzino with a Spritz in good company.
Overlooking the two squares, one of the symbolic monuments of Padua, the Palazzo della Ragione known as the “Salone”, a unique work of its kind: a succession of typical shops on the ground floor with typical food and a huge hanging room completely decorated with an extraordinary cycle of astrological theme on the upper floor.
A short distance away is Piazza dei Signori, an elegant square with a Renaissance touch, surrounded by famous monuments such as the Church of S. Clemente, the Palazzo del Capitanio and the imposing Tower adorned by the famous Astrario Clock designed in the 14th century to mark the hours and minutes, but also the month, the day, the phases of the moon and the astrological “place”.
Not far away, Piazza del Duomo is dominated by the majestic Cathedral and the ancient Baptistery dedicated to San Giovanni Battista, entirely decorated with a splendid cycle of frescoes by Giusto de ’Menabuoi. Next to the Cathedral rises the Palazzo Vescovile which became the seat of the Diocesan Museum in 2000: inside you can admire splendid works of art and the majestic Salone dei Vescovi.
Another symbolic place of Padua is the famous Caffè Pedrocchi, born in the early nineteenth century at the will of Antonio Pedrocchi and designed by the architect Giuseppe Jappelli, it is still a place loved by Paduans and home to exhibitions and cultural events of great appeal. Opposite it is Palazzo Bo, home of the prestigious University of Padua, the second oldest in Italy, where taught the great Galileo Galilei, the place par excellence for science and culture. Here you can see the oldest stable anatomical theater in the world.
The visit of this beautiful city must absolutely include the famous Scrovegni Chapel, the undisputed masterpiece of the great Giotto, who with this work reached the highest point of his artistic expression.
The splendid Piazza del Santo, with the Donatello monument dedicated to Gattamelata in the center, houses important monumental works dedicated to one of the most loved Saints in the world: St. Anthony. At the bottom, the majestic Basilica of Sant’Antonio, a harmonious balance between Romanesque, Gothic, Byzantine and Moorish, with interiors beautifully decorated with prestigious paintings and sculptures.
Nearby is the oldest Botanical Garden in the world, a UNESCO site, founded at the time of the Serenissima for the cultivation and study of medicinal plants.
Something that you cannot miss is Prato della Valle, another one of the symbols of Padua, is a large elliptical square that, in addition to being the largest square in Padua, is one of the largest in Europe (88620 square meters), second only to Moscow’s Red Square. It is very famous for the New Year celebrations and fireworks and its weekly market, and is made unique by its 78 statues and the elegant buildings that surround it.
For those who do not reach Padua by car but for example by train, or in any case not willing to drive, deciding to stay in the historic center is the ideal solution.
Besides being beautiful and rich in art, it is small and you can easily walk around. The night lights up and is wonderful. It is in this area that the major cultural attractions to be seen are gathered and there are lots of delicious restaurants, bars, cafes and clubs that are filled at spritz time. It is also a safe area to turn.
If you decide to stay in the center, look for something close to Piazza dei Signori, della Frutta or delle Erbe and Prato della Valle.
Padua has a typical sub-continental climate typical of the area, slightly mitigated by the proximity of the Adriatic Sea. The temperatures usually fluctuate between 6 degrees Celsius in the winter and 28 degrees Celsius in the summer months, although in the last few years the phenomenon of global warming has increased, with values that in summer are higher than those of the rest of the province.
Padua is beautiful in every season but in my opinion, the best period to visit it, is spring. With the appearance of the first beautiful days of spring, it is very pleasant to walk around the city in bloom, or if you don’t mind the cold, you can visit in winter time too. In December, Padua’s streets are full of stalls with the most delicious food you have ever tasted.
With a great variety of seasonal products, the Paduan cuisine combines the high quality of the ingredients with the tradition, enhanced by the professionalism of chefs who know how to preserve the ancient flavors, revisiting them according to the most modern gastronomic sensibility.
The generosity of this fertile land is found in the richness of the products that make up the typical local dishes. Rice is one of the main ingredients of first courses and is offered in many variations and with great imagination in combinations: with peas (risi e bisi), with radicchio, with asparagus or with bruscandoli.
Among the first courses, pasta and beans are famous, the great variety of maridae soups and bìgoli, similar to large spaghetti, obtained from the processing of pasta with a pasta machine called bigolaro. Other than classic dough, there are those flavored with cuttlefish ink which is black or mixed with whole wheat flour.
In the area of the traditional Euganean Hills there are soups and delicious risottos made with herbs and snails that can be proposed stewed, roasted or fried.
But the strength of the local cuisine is certainly the “Corte Padovana” or the Padovan court, where the famous Padovan hen reigns, bred since ancient times and born from the crossing of different races.
Goose, chicken, capon, guinea fowl, duck and turkey complete the Court. One of the delicacies prepared with the meat of these birds is the tasty and rich Paduan boiled meat flavored with sauces, fruit mustard or mustard.
In the area of Este and Montagnana cities, breeding of pigs is very widespread, from which tasty salamis and sausages are obtained, such as Veneto Berico-Euganeo ham, better known as Montagnana sweet ham.
And of course, you cannot miss the queen of Venetian cuisine: polenta.
Among the typical cakes we find la pazientina, with zabaione cream, la fregolòtta most known as sbrisolona, the fugassa padovana one of the oldest sweets and the figassa with dried figs macerated in grappa.
Yes, that’s la pazientina cake for our grandma’s birthday, 96 years old 🙂
So many delicious foods can only be generously accompanied by the excellent wines guaranteed by the Colli Euganei DOC, Merlara DOC, DOC wines of Bagnoli and Corti Benedettine. There are also excellent distillates and liqueurs often flavored with local herbs and fruits.
And to start, the famous Spritz, based on dry white wine, sparkling water, a good dose of Aperol and orange slice.
If you have the chance, don’t think twice! Padua will amaze you!
Have a wonderful trip!
Join me next time and enjoy a good, easy and fast zucchini au gratin 😉
Photo credit Google Images & Pixabay edited by Popsicle Society