Padova (Padua in English) is sadly neglected by the millions and millions of tourists who visit the Veneto each year. Most of them rush off to Venice, Verona or Lake Garda, with hardly a thought for the wonderful towns and villages that they are missing out on. Places like Asolo, Marostica and Padova are top of that "missed" list.
What's so great about Padova?
Well it's a beautiful town with lots to see and it is a very friendly place too with a great deal of energy and real Italian life going on wherever you care to look.
Perhaps it is the 60,000 students who attend one of the world's oldest universities? Perhaps it is the energy and enthusiasm for life that the locals are renowned for?
Whatever it may be it is infectious.
Soon you'll be part of the stream, rushing about on your bicycle like everyone else here. Maybe that's another reason it is such a great town; there's hardly a car anywhere in the old town - simply everyone goes by bike.
Enough talking let's head off to explore Padova...
Bicycles and the great public transport system are the best ways to explore the town. Walking too is a pleasure here but watch out for those bicycles, they tend to silently sneek up on you as you cross the roads.
The Botanical Gardens of Padova are amongst the oldest in the world, dating back to the 16th century. There's an incredibly modern greenhouse, with fascinating sections on plants from every continent, but I tend to like the old greenhouse more, it's pretty much abandoned now but it really is characteristic.
Prato della Valle is one of the most pleasant parts of the city to pass a few hours. It's a bit like a huge piazza, it's a bit like a park, and it's a little like an art gallery - with seventy plus sculptures of famous people that date back hundreds of years.
I love the Basilica of St. Anthony, actually it is one of my favorites in all of Italy. It looks like something from Rome mixed with something from Constantinopole. One of the most moving and magnificent Basilicas you will ever see.
Padova also has its fair share of canals. Okay, it isn't Venice but there are a lot of them and they are lovely to wander along on a summer's day.
Palazzo della Ragione, and the area around here, is the heart of the city. In the morning there is a market and there's no better way to pass a morning than browsing the fascinating stalls and then enjoying a coffee while watching the world go by at one of the many cafes here.
This area is popular at night too with many restaurants nearby. Not too far away is one of the ones I really like - Trattoria San Pietro in Via S. Pietro, 95.