Padua - Italy: home of the Aperol spritz and ancient wonders

A real insider tip in the northern Italian region of Veneto is the Italian city of Padua (ital. Padova, lat. Patavium) with its typical Italian flair and the beautiful, historic center.  Since 1222 it has been home to the prestigious university which quickly became one of the most important centres of learning in Europe, both in literature and science (witness Galileo). To enjoy at its best to get a feel for it being the Student City, would be advisable to organize a visit to Padua whilst university lessons are still running and the streets of the town centre are still swarming with students wandering around and drinking the local aperitif, the so-called spritz. The city surprises its visitors with a lot of charm and lots of exciting sights. Wonderful arcades lead almost through the entire old town, protecting you from the sun and rain while strolling through the numerous shops. 

The historic centre is fairly quickly and easy to explore - the most important squares and most important sights are easily accessible on foot. Again and again the path leads over cobblestones, bridges or under arcades. The old charm of the art city can also be enjoyed during a short break in a patisserie with a hot espresso.

The city’s three central piazzas—Piazza dei Signori, Piazza delle Erbe and Piazza della Frutta, located to the north, south and west, respectively, of the covered food market—are lined with cafés and restaurants, all with outdoor seating. The weekly markets which take place in and around the Palazzo della Ragione (market hall) as well as the Piazza delle Erbe and the Piazza della Frutta, is one of the largest in Northern Italy. The market is incredibly popular with both locals and tourists. The selection ranges from fruit and vegetables to clothing and leather goods. 

Finally, a real must is to enjoy the famous Spritz in one of the beautiful Café Bars - this aperitif was invented in Padua. The brothers Silvio and Luigi Barbieri developed the fruity-bitter liqueur Aperol in 1919 exclusively for the international trade fair in Padua. The orange-red distillate is now also extremely popular far beyond the borders of Italy. Whether pure on ice or as an Aperol Spritz with Prosecco or white wine and soda - holiday mood is guaranteed! At the iconic Caffè Pedrocchi, a historic café located across from the main university building, bartenders have been serving the city’s Icon Aperitivo since 1831. The three sprawling rooms on the ground floor—colored white, red and green after the Italian flag—are a welcome setting for a pre-dinner aperitivo. 

Paduan cuisine is a simple cuisine traditionally influenced by Venetian cuisine. Among these, Baccalà alla cappuccina o alla padovana, similar to the Venetian-style creamed cod with cod cream and oil, served with croutons or white polenta. The Paduan version is prepared with anchovies, raisins, pine nuts, cinnamon and bay leaves. Try the Baccalà at Orazio 1957 in the centre of Padova. Another typical dish are the bigoli, a typical dish of Veneto created in Padua, are a type of long fresh pasta similar to spaghetti but thick (2 -3 mm diameter). The Treviso radicchio, the variety of which is famous in Padua and throughout the Veneto region, is a product to which the inhabitants of these lands are very attached, so much so that it can be found in numerous recipes. A very popular dish in Padua, is the tagliatelle with radicchio, pancetta and taleggio - try it at Ristorante Amici Miei.

Another typical dish the Gran Bollito Misto, tends to be served at large events such as weddings. It has its origins in the seventeenth century and it is said that Galileo Galilei was fond of it. The Bollito Misto includes various cuts of beef, cotechino, Paduan hen or goose or duck. It is then flavoured with mustard sauces, green sauce or horseradish sauce). One of the restaurants famous for its Bollito is Ristorante da Giovanni. And obviously accompanied by a class of fabulous Veneto red wine, of which there are many options such as Amarone della Valpolicella, Corvina or Bardolino.

Among the desserts to try, the Padovana fugassa (focaccia), the figassa (fig cake), the smegiassa (with raisins) and the sbrisolona. There is also a long pastry tradition linked to Sant’Antonio with Pan del Santo, Dolce del Santo and Amarettoni. There are many fabulous Pasticceria in Padova offering the entire range of Dolci and sweet specialities of Padova, such as Pasticceria Racca or Pasticceria Agostini.

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