For those not born in Padua, the experience of visiting it is like being cast under a spell. When you have a coffee in front of the university, you can easily imagine the famous ancestors who dwelt there and changed the world. As you stroll around at sunset on a clear October day, you are struck by the white spires of Pedrocchi Café against the cobalt blue sky. The view is breath-taking to say the least.
There are days in Padua when the air is damp and foggy and you, sitting with a book in a corner of the library, can enjoy an extraordinary experience. You may, for example, look up, see a portico and, as you observe it, watch it transform in the glow of the streetlights and look more like a Renaissance painting than a real object.
Padua is like the motions of the soul; it changes and always takes you by surprise.
PADUA WAS FOUNDED IN 1185 B.C. BY ANTENOR, TROJAN PRINCE.
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PADUA IS ONE OF ITALY’S OLDEST CITIES, THE OLDEST IN VENETO.
WHILE ITS FOUNDATION IS MYTHICAL, ARCHAEOLOGICAL DATA HAS CONFIRMED THE CITY’S ANCIENT ORIGINS, BEING ESTABLISHED BETWEEN THE 13TH AND THE 11TH CENTURY B.C. AND LINKED TO ANCIENT VENETO CIVILISATION.
PADUA IS A CITY STEEPED IN HISTORY AND CULTURE, THE CRADLE OF SCIENTIFIC DISCOVERIES AND HOME TO MANY ILLUSTRIOUS FIGURES
Padua is a city in Veneto, in Northern Italy, renowned for Giotto’s frescoes in the Scrovegni Chapel, dated 1303-05, and for the large 13th century Basilica di Sant’Antonio. The basilica, marked by byzantine-style domes and fine works of art, is home to the tomb of the saint whose name it bears. In the old city centre there are streets with porticoes and elegant cafés frequented by students from the University of Padua, founded in 1222.
Padua was a Roman city and became very wealthy during the time of the empire. Many roads passed through the city, linking it with the main Roman cities of the time: Via Annia, Via Medoaci, Via Astacus, Via Aurelia and Via Aponense.
With the fall of the Roman Empire, Padua managed to keep its economy strong, but with the initial invasions of the barbarians, it was devastated several times and, with the natural disasters that it witnessed, went through centuries of difficulties and struggles for survival.
The city recovered in the early centuries of the second millennium to become one of the cultural capitals of the 14th century: the art work of the 14th century – particularly the cycle by Giotto in the Scrovegni Chapel – made it a crucial centre in the development of western art.
Between the 14th and the 15th centuries, Padua would see the rise, at the same time as Florence, of a powerful cultural movement devoted to Antiquity, which would transform into the Paduan Renaissance, influencing artists from the whole of northern Italy in the fifteenth century.
The University of Padua is one of the most famous universities in Italy and the world, and is one
of the world’s oldest (the second oldest in Italy after Bologna university and the seventh oldest in the world), dating back to 1222. In the academic year 2016/2017 it boasted approximately 57,000 students and 2,100 teachers.
In 1405, Padua became part of the Most Serene Republic of Venice and witnessed the beginning of a long period of peace and prosperity offered by the Venetian Government, as well as the freedom guaranteed by its university, which drew students and teachers from all over Europe, becoming one of the leading centres of Aristotelianism and attracting many illustrious intellectuals.
Padua is a city of many different souls and faces, including of course the sometimes conflicting combination of city and university, which very often, and luckily, has given rise to success stories in the world of culture and of scientific research.
Galileo taught at the University of Padua from 1592 to 1610, and said himself “I spent the best eighteen years of my life there” (from his letter to Fortunio Liceti in Padua, Arcetri, 23 June 1640).
With his development of the telescope, his mathematic calculations and his observations of the skies, he succeeded in proving that the theories of Copernicus, whom he supported, were true.
Padua has always been a city of performances. Around 60-70 A.C., the Roman theatre “lo Zairo” was built, whose foundations were discovered during the reclamation works carried out on the canal that runs around Prato della Valle. There are many theatres, and hundreds of productions are staged every year.