Maybe known as the “City of the Saint” (Città del Santo), Padua is one of the main artistic Italian cities.
Not far from the Basilica, there is the Prato della Valle, one of the largest squares in Europe with a very wide park. Walking around the Prato you can admire the ample Basilica of Santa Giustina, dedicated to this Paduan Saint who was martyred in 304.
The Saint Anthony Basilica, which had been built after the Saint’s death (1231), keeps his dead body and it is a destination for millions of pilgrims and tourists from all over the world. Inside some frescos by Altichiero and Giusto de’ Menabuoi, the Rood, many statues and bronze relief by Donatello reign uncontested.
In the early XVIth century Galileo Galilei taught at the University of Padua (Palazzo del Bo’), founded in 1222, and with him the city inaugurated the Anatomic Theatre, the most ancient in the world. Near the Palazzo del Bo’ stands the Caffè Pedrocchi, a neoclassic building - erected in 1831 on the project of Giuseppe Jappelli - which became a famous rendezvous for renowned writers, poets and artists in the past as well as nowadays
In the historical heart stands the Palazzo della Ragione, erected in 1218, which was the Citizen Court. The big hall reigns in the middle of the medieval squares Piazza dei Signori, Piazza delle Erbe Piazza della Frutta, where every day take place cheerful and animated fruit and vegetable markets.
Our visit starts from the Prato della Valle, going towards the Saint Anthony Basilica, then walking through nice little roads with colonnades in order to reach the historical heart, where you soon discover the University in front of the Caffé Pedrocchi.
Our walk continues to the famous medieval squares and ends with a few time to spend by yourself.
Travelling along the Riviera Berica and perceiving the first Villas, we will arrive in Vicenza, called the ‘City of the Gold’ because of its famous art of working gold; but most of all it is a member of the UNESCO, thanks to the building realised on the projects of Andrea Palladio.
Before entering this pleasant town, we will have the possibility to admire - only from the bus - the Villa Almerico Capra called “La Rotonda”, a masterpiece by Andrea Palladio, who was called by the Cardinal Almerico to build a house on the top of a hill. Half a temple and half a villa, its name comes from the cupola, which is quite unusual for such a house.
The visit of the historical centre will start with the Olympic Theatre, known for its scene-setting since 1585. Work of genius, idea of Palladio for the Olympic Academy he was member of, and realised by Francesco Scamozzi. It is the first modern sheltered theatre of the Occident.
The visit will continue towards the contrà Porti, where you can see the most famous building by Palladio, among which there is the Basilica reigning in the central square Piazza dei Signori.
Not so far from the urban centre a hill dominates the town. It keeps on its top the Basilica of Monte Berico, built in 1600 next to the primitive gothic small church. From here you can admire the panorama of Vicenza and the pre-Alps. A brief visit in the basilica is previewed to appreciate the important painting by Paolo Veronese.
The panoramic tour we offer will give you the opportunity to recognize the value of the amazing landscape and the rich nature of the Euganean Hills.
The first visit will be at the Abbey of Praglia, where about fifty Benedictine monks still live there (the biggest community in Italy). Here you find a peacefulness and an atmosphere that take you in the past. Three cloisters can be visited (the Botanic, the Rustic, and the Pensile); furthermore, there are the Refectory, which is famous for the carving masterwork (tables and benches with scenes of moral and theological meaning). The Abbey has a National Library, a prestigious laboratory for the restoration of books, and a herbalist shop (with production and sell).
Arriving in Arquà Petrarca through the characteristic roads of the Euganean Hills, you have the impression of entering a real medieval village. As a matter of facts, the small town still preserves the atmosphere of the period when Francesco Petrarca chose it as a refuge since 1370 and where he was buried after his death.
We will see the poet’s house and then we will have a break in a wine cellar to taste some local wines and typical products.
A panoramic tour of the city will let us see the most important buildings, the medieval sites and some Roman constructions which still survive. Then the tour will go on towards the historical centre with the visit of the pedestrian area.
Verona is also famous as city of love, as a consequence of Shakespeare’s drama (“… In fair Verona, where we lay our scene from ancient grudge break to new mutiny… A pair of star-cross’d lovers take their life, whose misadventur’d piteous overthrows…” - chorus, I, i, Romeo & Juliet).
Here are the characteristic balcony, Juliet’s tomb, setting of her romantic tragedy, and Romeo’s house. The House of Capulet, where Romeo meets his sweet Juliet, still exists. It isn’t far from his lover’s one; it is located near the place where the Scaligeri will build their sepulchral arches. The tomb is in the Church of the Saint Francis ‘al Corso’ Monastery.
Piazza Erbe, which was first the Roman forum, became the seat of the county offices and of merchants Associations. The City Hall stands between Piazza Erbe and Piazza dei Signori, and it encloses the Old Market Courtyard (Cortile Mercato Vecchio), with the Scala della Ragione (XVth century) and the colossal Lamberti Tower. In the middle of the square you can admire a marmoreal canopy, called ‘il Capitello’, and a fountain with an allegory of Verona (la Fontana di Madonna Verona).
To end, the impressive Roman Arena, more than 1900 year-old, which represents one of the greatest monument of ancient Roman Art. It had been built in the 1st century A.C. and it stood out of the town-walls to permit several performances and Greco-Roman wrestling.
Since 1913 when the Aida was acted for the very first time, the Arena has become the most famous open-air theatre in the international panorama.
San Zeno, Benedictine monastery (VIIIth century) and Romanic basilica re-built after the earthquake in 1117, has the façade with the characteristic rose-window. Inside you can find the triptych by Andrea Mantegna (1457-59).
It’s simply an unique city in the world and with no doubt the most romantic one built almost 1500 years ago on the islands of the lagoon.
When we arrive in Venice, we will leave from Piazzale Tronchetto with a private motor-boat travelling along the panoramic Canale Giudecca, rich in historical buildings such as the Basilica of Redentore and Saint George Basilica (San Giorgio Maggiore), two masterpieces which keep Palladio’s signature.
We will walk through little streets of a never-seen Venice, i.e. the city where the Venetians live their lives. Venice is a very charming city even in the hidden places.
From Rialto bridge (Ponte del Rialto) it will be possible to admire the Great Channel (Canal Grande) in its beauty, and from here we will go on towards Saint Mark square (Piazza San Marco) to conclude with a brief visit of the Basilica dedicated to the holy patron of Venice..
It still preserves a lot of painted houses that once characterised this town. The river Sile, which from west to east goes through whole the historical part of the city, and the river Cagnan meets here and confers a special charm to the city-centre, surrounded by walls of the XVIth century. Many plants and weeping willows set down gently their branches on the banks, and some colonnades coast the channels.
In the Piazza dei Signori an elegant succession of ancient palaces creates a solemn and harmonic medieval architectural ensemble. The massive structure of Saint Nicolò Church is set apart. In the Duomo of Saint Peter you can visit the Malchiostro Chapel with frescos by Pordenone and an altarpiece by Tiziano representing the Annunciation.
Treviso, like Venus, was born from the waters. It’s this water weaving - basement of the town that has preserved its charm - that astonish tourists’ eyes.
The Piazza dei Signori is still today the heart of the town. A very suggestive place is the Vicolo Molinetto, where there’s the wheel of the ancient mill still functioning and from where you can appreciate the ‘show’ of the Pescheria, an animated fish market and the old houses that reflect theirselves in the river Cagnan waters.
Finally, there is the Loggia dei Cavalieri, the so-called “roofed square”, conceived as rendezvous for the aristocrats who played chess, and today market-place.