Let’s start from the Archaeological Museum inside the Eremitani Museum, which preserves archaeological finds from the Paleo-Veneto, Pre-Roman and Roman periods and houses an Egyptian section that was expanded by the archaeological discoveries of explorer Giovan Battista Belzoni from Padova (1778-1823).
The next museum on our list is the Museum of Medieval and Modern Art, with works created from the 14th to the 19th century by the great masters of Italian painting: from Giotto and Guariento to Boccacini, Veronese and Tintoretto to Giambattista Tiepolo.
A visit to the well known Scrovegni Chapel, in the area of the ancient Roman arena is not to be missed: Giotto was entrusted with the task of depicting a sequence of stories from the Old and New Testament, which today represent an artistic masterpiece.
Let’s then cross the road to be welcomed by the majestic Palazzo Zuckermann, a museum inaugurated in 2004 to house the extraordinary collections of over two thousand objects, hitherto hidden heritage of the Civic Museums of Padova, collected in the Museum of Applied and Decorative Arts and the Bottacin Museum‘s collection of coins and medals.
Taking a short walk towards the historical centre, we get to Palazzo della Ragione: commonly called “Il Salone”, it is one of the biggest covered rooms in Italy which is unmatched in Italian civil architecture. The first construction dates back to 1218 and was intended to house the courts and financial offices; however, it was also a commercial headquarters. It is used for major art exhibitions and events, while the ground floor is still used, as in ancient times, as a food market, the so-called Sottosalone: do not miss the passageway in one of the most charming and unique corners of Padova between Piazza delle Erbe and Piazza della Frutta.
Not far away, the Oratory of San Rocco, with its walls frescoed between 1536 and 1545 by Domenico Campagnola, Girolamo Tessari known as the Saint, Gualtiero Padovano, Stefano Dall’Arzere and Johannes Stephan van Calcar with scenes illustrating some events in the life of San Rocco.
If you have already graduated, you may walk into Caffè Pedrocchi, the “café without doors”, the symbol of the city designed by Giuseppe Jappelli and a place where nobles and bourgeoisie, intellectuals and common people have met since 1831. It soon became a meeting point of intellectuals and men of letters, “a place where ideas were intrinsic”, just a few steps from Bo Palace, one of the buildings of the University of Padova.
On the first floor of the Pedrocchi building you can visit the Museum of the Risorgimento and the Contemporary Age, which chronicles facts and protagonists of a century and a half of Paduan and national history, from the fall of the Venetian Republic (1797) to the promulgation of the Italian Constitution on January 1, 1948.
We mustn’t forget the hidden jewels of Padova, such as the Loggia and Odeo Cornaro, an area near the Basilica of St. Anthony commissioned by patron Alvise Cornaro to host theatre plays, music, debates and scholarly conversations during the Renaissance. Near the Specola there is the Oratory of Saint Michael, a work by Jacopo da Verona which, in addition to the elements derived from his training under Altichiero, has elements taken from Giotto, Jacopo Avanzi and Giusto de’ Menabuoi.
During the main festivities of the year it is possible to visit the civic museums free of charge (this does not apply to exhibitions with entrance fee and the Scrovegni Chapel).
In addition, every first Sunday of the month residents in Padova and its province can enter the following free of charge: Eremitani Museum (excluding the Scrovegni Chapel), Palazzo della Ragione, Palazzo Zuckermann, Museum of the Risorgimento and the Contemporary Age, Loggia and Odeo Cornaro, Oratory of San Rocco, Oratory of Saint Michael, Petrarca’s house at Arquà Petrarca.
Please remember that most museums are closed on Monday.