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Travel : Padua, Italy, July 9-10/2022

Updated: Sep 3, 2022

The then controversial

The segment travel to Italy started on June 23rd and until the 28th, is dedicated to the visit of 2022 Bienale Arte, (work in progress) and then to other Italian cities.


The uneventful drive from Bologna, (see 3 previous posts) were we spent wonderful 4 days, up north, in early morning, to Padua, in the Veneto region, on the River Bacchiglione,( west of Venice). were we spent only one night, took only an hour an a half.

The rural agriculture landscape scenery consisted of green vineyards, yellow hay fields and red roofs in the midst of rich verdant vegetation

Padua's History in Short

Padua is another wonderful town, that some how we missed during our many visits to Italy.

An important rail and road junction, the city is a lively communications, agricultural, commercial, and industrial hub, and a capital of the province of Padua. with a population of about 215,000

Furthermore it is a living monument to all the epochs it has lived through, holdings some of the most precious artistic gems from the last 2000 years.

The city earned UNESCO World Heritage for:

Its Botanical Garden, the most ancient of the world, dating from 1545,

and for its the 14th-c Frescoes, situated in different buildings of the city center,

The Scrovegni Chapel (1303–05) contains famous frescoes by Giotto, and the Scuola del Santo (“School of the Saints”; a medieval trade-guild building) has frescoes by Titian.

West of the botanic garden is the Prato della Valle, a large oval piazza surrounded by a canal and bordered by a group of statues of well-known Paduans.

The poet Dante lived there, Galileo Galilei was a lecturer (1592 and 1610.) in its ancient university, (the oldest in Italy after that of Bologna) and St. Anthony of Padua - the patron saint of the city, ( a Portuguese Franciscan who spent part of his life in the city) died in 1231 and is buried there..

Padua is the setting for most of the action in Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew. and in a play by the Irish writer Oscar Wilde entitled The Duchess of Padua.

The Roman Patavium which was, founded, according to legend, by the Trojan hero Antenor, was first mentioned in 302 BC, according to the Roman historian Livy, (was born there in 59Bc) The town prospered greatly and, in the 11th–13th c, was a leading Italian commune.

It was governed by the Carrara family (1318 to 1405), also called Carraresi,- a medieval Italian family who ruled first as feudal lords about the village of Carrara in the countryside of Padua and then as despots in the city of Padua.,

Then it passed to Venice, which held it until 1797 and later was under Austrian dominion from 1815 to 1866,

The town was active in the Risorgimento - the movement for Italian independence when a major rising took place there in the European's 1848. Springs of Nations

Where to stay?

Hotel Majestic Toscanelli

To our delight we discovered that the quaint hotel we decided to randomly, check into,, upon entering town, without pre-planned booking, and which I highly recommend, was situated in the heart of the old Jewish Ghetto, - an area that has remained one of the most interesting and lively districts of the city. right at the old town 's center,

Hotel Majestic Toscanelli Via dell' Arco 2 Tel: +39 049 663244

This Boutique Hotel which is housed in an old Padua building and is situated right in the midst of what was once the heart of the old Jewish ghetto, dates from the 1500. Apparently The Toscanelli building once upon a time belonged to the

Jewish Salom family.

it was reconstructed and became known as "The Majestic Toscanelli Hotel " and has been home to the Morosi family who has been managing the hotel since 1968. The Morsi actually bought an old, dilapidated building in 1946 - "the monopoli:" transformed it into one of the most renowned restaurants in town, naming it

"The Toscanelli Restaurant" (referring to their Tuscan origin,) and later transforming the building into "The Majestic Toscanelli Hotel " . The couple's daughter and son, Anna Maria and Mario, carry on the family tradition with the same dedication

The Padua Jewish Ghetto The Ghetto is an ancient popular district inhabited, since ancient times, by the Jewish community of Padua; some families lived there until the seventies.

Documents dated 1134 and 1182 about 3 persons with the surname Judaeus are mentioned, and In 1289 the physician Jacob Bonacosa, a Jew, translated *Averroes' Colliget, a medical text.

Several loan banks were founded by Jews who came from various parts of Italy, who made a living from Jewish moneylending, and since taxation imposed by Padua's rulers, the Carraras, was not heavy, and the populace was normally tolerant of the Jews.

.The community grew rapidly in wealth and social position, until Padua became part of the Venetian republic in 1405. Then the situation of the loan bankers gradually worsened and they were expelled from the city in 1456. The return of the Jews was aloud yet blood libel, change in rules and adverted economic circumstances caused Jewish property got sacked, and 2 leading bankers, Vita Meshullam and Naphtali Herz Wertheim, were completely ruined.

Early in the 16th c the Jews were ordered to live in their own quarter, but they were not completely restricted to a ghetto and some of the wealthier families lived among Christians on the most elegant streets. The idea of establishing a ghetto similar to those in Rome or Venice was decided on between 1581 and 1584 but not actually put into effect until 1601. The district with the rented (not owned) houses, centered around a small square where the synagogue was situated, with access via a 5 entry gates, which on one a tablet inscribed in Hebrew and Latin prohibiting both and Christians from approaching the Ghetto's Gates at night.

In 1616 the Jewish population of Padua numbered 665, chiefly engaged in the silk industry. The community suffered gravely from a plague, 421 of the 721 Jews dying in 1630–31. Hostility toward the Jews grew in the 17th c during the wars waged by Venice against the Turks.

When the French troops entered Padua in, 1797, the Jews were temporarily emancipated

The ghetto was renamed Via Libera ("Liberty Way") and its 4 gates taken down

In 1840 and under Austrian rule the Jewish population of Padua numbered 910.

By 1881, the Jewish population had risen to 1,378; thereafter, however, the cultural and social life of the community deteriorated and by 1911 the number had decreased to 881. due to discrimination and emigration to other countries, among them Ereẓ Israel; by 1938 the number had further declined to 586.

A piping hole to check in incoming guests while staying invisible

Unique to the Padua's Jewish community was their academic excellence.

Jews many also who specially came from Germany, Poland, and the Levant studied medicine simultaneously with Torah. From 1519 to 1619 about 80 Jews obtained degrees in medicine in Padua, and from 1619 to 1721, 149 Jews graduated as physicians. Distinguished particularly were Moses Abba Delmedigo, physician and philosopher, and Abraham b. Meir de *Balmes of Lecce. (as well as other rabbinical and academics)

The Jewish Museum/Synagogue - 9 Via San Martino (here)

A visit at the Jewish Heritage museum/Synagogue at the heart of the Ghetto, which narrates the events and rituals of the Jewish Community of Padua from its origins. as well as meeting Antonella Ortis ( )- a wonderful local volunteer at the museum, taught us a lot about the Padua Jewish community's past and present.

Only 200 Jews live currently in Padua down from a striving community of about 1500

The museum at Via delle Piazze, 26 is now housed in

The hall which was once the Scuola Grande,- the first and largest of Padua's Ashkenazi Synagogue, dating from 1522 and and active until May 1943, when it was burnt down by a group of local fascists.

The Jewish Community together with the Local Authorities- Regione Veneto and Comune di Padova- contributed to its restoration and gave back the fascinating location, which is enhanced by the women’s lodges and 19th century staircase.

The exhibition displays objects from the family tradition, e.g. candelabras, spice holders, Passover Seder dishes, and objects connected to Synagogue rituals. a 15th century Mamluk Parochet, precious embroidered materials and Torah Sefers some of the most precious ones. Captivating documentary offers a historical overview on the Jewish Community of Padua through Corrado Augias’s voice over.

There were 3 synagogues in Padua, of which we visited 2

The First is of Italian rite, (here)

Via San Martino e Solferino

It opened in 1548; from 1682, it served as a bet midrash (house of study) for the entire community. The building was almost completely destroyed by fire in May 1943

The synagogue of Italian rite, closed down in 1892. It was reopened after World War II and in 1970 was the only synagogue in the city.

Its ark was taken in 1958 to Hechal Shelomo in Jerusalem.

It is amazingly beautiful and well preserved and is open for visits via the museum, just around the corner. Refurbishing work was done on the interior, upon our visit there.

Second one - Museum/Synagogue

Ashkenazi synagogue, or Scuola grande,

In 1525, the Great “German” (Ashkenazic) Temple was opened in the Corte Lenguazza, the primary synagogue of the city. Remodeled and embellished in 1683 the synagogue began using the Italian liturgy in the 19th c

Damaged by fires first in 1927 and later in 1943, when it was torched by local Fascists. The temple’s magnificent Baroque marble aron escaped the flames.

Its huge ark was taken in 1960 to the Yad Eliyahu Synagogue in Tel Aviv.

The third synagogue, of Sephardi rite,

built in 1617 on the initiative of the influential Marini family, was closed down in 1892.

This building which is situated almost across from the Italian Synagogue, is no longer in the possession of the Jewish community and can be seen only from the outside .

A plaque alludes to its history.

A presence of historical cemeteries where famous Rabbis are buried, e.g. Meir Katzenellenbogen (1482-1565), Samuel David Luzzatto (1800-1865), and a Rabbinical Boarding School at Palazzo Cumano in 1829, can also be found


Padua's Historical Center Monuments

In addition to the fascinating visit to the Jewish part of Padua, the Town's

Tourist Info Center located in the heart of old town offers walking tours of the

Old Center and of Padua's historic University building

Tourist Info Padua Oiazzetta Cappellato Pedrocchi 9 +39 049 520 7415 info@turismopadova,it

The Old Center is picturesque, with a dense network of arcaded streets opening into large communal piazze, and many bridges crossing the various branches of the Bacchiglione, which once surrounded the ancient walls like a moat

The 3 famous Squares of the town: Piazza delle Erbe,

Is one of two squares that are separated by the imposing medieval

Palazzo della Ragione.

The square dates back to pre-Roman times, this trapezoidal shaped trade/commercial square of Padua has served as a fresh produce market, a scene of executions since the Middle Ages, and a site of the folk festivities center.

In the past it was also known as :

Piazza delle Biade (Corn Square), Piazza del Vino (Wine Square) or Piazza della Giustizia (Justice Square)

A statue of Justice with sword and scales is placed above the Tower of Elders

Every working day, it hosts the fruit and vegetable market in the morning. In the afternoon, numerous bars occupy the space with chairs and tables until late in the evening.

The square, paved for the first time in the Middle Ages,

On the day of St. James, the square hosts the Palio Race "Ludi Carrara", first started by citizens in 1382 [1] to celebrate the lordship Carrara

A similar market takes place on Piazza della Frutta the other square, once called Piazza del Peronio, just behind Piazza delle Erbe although with a slightly different timetable. The square was occupied by numerous shops and stalls, selling all kinds of goods, especially vegetables and fruits.

In the 2 squares is one of the largest markets in Italy. dominated by the magnificent:

Palazzo della Ragione.

A medieval market hall, town hall and palace of justice from 1219

It was intended to house the courts of justice and financial offices of the city, a role it played throughout the Venetian domination, until 1797, after which the courts of justice were transferred from the palace and the hall was opened for large popular gatherings, anniversaries and parties.

Set on the square's north side,, between the Piazza delle Erbe and Piazza della Frutta.

The palace is famous for its numerous loggias and for having the largest roof in Europe.

The roof is made of larch trusses, covered with lead plates, unsupported by columns, and shaped as the upturned bottom of a large ship,

Designed by Frà Giovanni degli Eremitani who, between 1306 and 1309, raised the large hull-shaped roof and added the porch and the loggias covering the stairs. redone with without central columns and was .

The interior of the upper Hall

The hall on the upper floor of the palace, known as il Salone

The original frescoes of the hall, attributed to Giotto, were destroyed in the fire of 1420. and the hall was frescoed again between 1425 - 1440 with a grandiose cycle of astrological paintings based on Pietro d’Abano,+ by Niccolò Miretto and Stefano da Ferrara.

.The gigantic wooden horse, in the hall isa Renaissance copy of the monument to Gattamelata by Donatello, which currently stands in the courtyard of the Basilica of Saint Anthony, and the 2 Egyptian sphinxes brought in the 19th ce by Giovan Battista Belzoni.

The covered market, coherently called sotto il Salone”-under the big hall

The ground floor arches are filled with with cafés and small shops selling every kind of food, The various shops were reorganized under the portico of the palace included:

The sellers of fabrics and fur were installed, the sellers of wrought iron in the east of the square, the sellers of wine in the west, while the stalls with grains and leather were installed in the center of the square. The goldsmiths were located under the portico of the Palazzo del Podestà,

Turning right from the access stairs to the corner of the building is where the Rope Vault was - where cheating traders caught by surprise were tied by their wrists, lifted up to 3 m high , then dropped.

And further to the right, on one exterior corner of the Palazzo della Ragione building, a standardized medieval measurment/weight unites - for flour, grains, bricks and fabrics, are engraved into the wall, to avoid quarrels and cheating, thus is named

"Canton de la Busei" - Corner of Lies

Palazzo del Podestà,

The Palazzo del Podestà, also known as Palazzo Moroni, a design of architect Andrea Moroni (1500-1560), was built between 1539 and 1601 in the eastern side of the square, with the Moschini wing completed at the beginning of the 20th c

It is the seat of the municipal administration of the city of Padua.

The palace replaced a pre-existing medieval building and was commissioned under the mandate of Marcantonio Contarini – Padua’s podestà, or city Mayor, between 1538 and 1540. The designed wing still today is the seat of the Cabinet of the Mayor and the Executive.

It still preserves valuable frescoes and decorations such as the precious chapel of the college of Nodari, with paintings by Domenico Campagnola and Pietro Damini.

The stage for the executions was under the windows of the Palazzo del Podesta.

Palazzo delle Debite

A building with beautiful facades standing next to Palazzo della Ragione. The palace was built in 1874 in pseudo-romanic style in the western part of the square, on the site of the prisons.

To the south, there are tall medieval houses, with arcades of various eras and styles

This 14th c piazza, Initially known as the "Square of Triumphs" and again "Piazza della Signoria", for centuries hosted official civic and government celebrations, and is dominated by the famous Clock Tower. the scene of tournaments and courtship. Tradition says, it was from the noblemen or signori Carrara that the square took its name

Other religious treasures can be found:

+The Cathedral of Saint Mary (rebuilt 1552) on Signore Piazza has a Romanesque baptistery.

+The Basilica of San Antonio (1232–1307) contains the tomb of the saint and has statues and reliefs by Donatello on the high altar.

+In the piazza before the basilica is Donatello’s magnificent equestrian bronze statue

(set up in 1453) in Piazza de Santo, of the Venetian condottiere Erasmo da Narni (called Gattamelata - Honeyed Cate).

Cathedral Saint Mary Basilica San Antonio Gattamelata


Historic Cafe Pedrocchi

In the heart of Padua, the Cafe which begs a visit, is situated between the headquarters of the Municipality ( Palazzo Moroni) and those of the University (Palazzo Bo). being one of the symbols of the city.

Caffè Pedrocchi is not just one of Padua’s historical cafes, but also one of the oldest bars in Italy. Although the original shop opened by Bergamo-born Francesco Pedrocchi in the location dates back to as early as 1772, the cafe's grand structure, as is known today was designed by Venetian architect Giuseppe Jappelli, who was inspired by the cafes of Vienna, and was opened by the son Antonio Pedrucchi. in 1831.

Set up a triangular building, like a harpsichordIt it has architectural prominence a blend of the neoclassical style in the Venetian Gothic, with references exotic Egyptian and chinoiserie to reflect the romantic atmosphere of the time

Its rooms were decorated in diverse styles. The 3 main rooms on the ground floor: the White Room, the Red Room and the Green Room, named after the color of tapestries made after the unification of Italy in 1861.

Soon it became famous as the “doorless cafe” because it stayed open 24 hours a day, a curious tradition that lasted for decades until 1916, when the First World War restricted its opening hours, forcing it to close at night.

Its very central location contributed to its success over the years, especially with students and professors: in 1848, its White Room was the scene of the murder of a young student of the University of Padua which led to the Risorgimento riots staged in opposition to Habsburg rule.


A Guided Tour of to "Bo Palazzo" - Padua University

(guided tours) Via VIII Febbraio 2 the historical seat of University of Padua since 1493,

There are 6 Stumbling Stones (stolpersteine) embedded in the cobblestones in front of the entrance to Bo Palace, commemorating Jewish students who were arrested here and deported to Auschwitz. Such Stumbling Stones can be noticed all around the old Jewish center as well.

Since 1222 Padua has been home to the prestigious university, when a group of students and professors decided to leave the University of Bologna as to have more intellectual freedom of expression, They created an academic center in town, which quickly became one of the most important centers of learning in Europe, both in literature and science

The university has employed some of Italy’s greatest and most controversial thinkers, including :


Galileo, Casanova

and the world’s first female doctor of philosophy, Eleonora Lucrezia Cornaro Piscopia which her statue graces the stairs)

It was exciting to follow on the footsteps of these giants known across the universe

Bo Building's Courtyard

Arturo Martini's statue of Palinurus,

At the entrance to the New Courtyard stands this statue which is dedicated to the partisan Masaccio commemorating the Italian Resistance movement.

During the Resistenza, Italian partisans were very active against both the new Fascist rule and the Germans, and one of the leaders was Rector of the University -Concetto Marchesi,

The historic buildings is blended with Rationalist renovations and modifications made by Italy's great rationalist architect, Gio Ponti, in the 1930s and '40s.

Many supported at the time the new political movement -Fascism. and as in other parts of Italy, in Padua too the Fascist party soon came to be seen as the defender of property and order against revolution.

Starting from 1932, through the demolition of the last surrounding buildings, the new wing of the Palace was built, which is articulated around the "New Courtyard" also known as the "Littorio Courtyard".

The then contravential rector Carlo Anti, and thanks also to the substantial government funding, a renovation spree of the the University, was facilitated, placing five scientific institutes (two institutes of the Faculty of Medicine and three of Engineering) in five separate locations and building in Via Marzolo the Student House, (inaugurated in 1934)

The university rector who cooperated with the party and the budgets extracted also facilitated grand art and later a counter art

During the renovation, Ponti called on artists, such as Campigli, Pendini and Severini, to fresco the Rector’s offices,

The Rectorate

Jannis Kounellis - "Resistenza Liberazione" 1955

The work "Resistance and Liberation" by the Greek Jannis Kounellis, located under the portico of the New courtyard of Palazzo Bo, was commissioned in 1994 and inaugurated in 1995 with the aim of remembering the heroic events of Ezio Franceschini, Concept Marchesi and Egidio Meneghetti , 3 professors of the University of Padua who were protagonists of the Partisan Resistance .as the small plaque placed next to it says "to the civil faith and action of Concepts Marchesi, Egidio Meneghetti, Ezio Franceschini and of those in the University who knew how to unite different ideals and cultures in a concerted struggle of the people to regain freedom for Italy

The University was made famous by the value of its students and its teachers, moreover it could materially be considered one of the major European universities, and the most frequented by foreign students among the universities of the Italian peninsula.

Map pf Padua The Frescoed entrance Map of Venice

The Renaissance Bo Palace continues to play a crucial and operational role in the university's daily academic life, visitors to the Bo Palace are not guaranteed access to every site offered on the tours provided, however, the tour which we lucked out to have and which focuses on the Palace's 20th c additions (Palazzo Bo e il '900 di Gio Ponti) is available on Saturdays, Sundays, and observed holidays

The halls are subject to availability, as university activities and events are commonly held there.

The tour started with the art-work on display at the palace's courtyards

as well as visiting the sites of the Rectorate (il Rettorato)

the Great Hall (l'Aula Magna)

Here initially the Scuola Grande dei Legisti had its headquarters, which was later downgraded to a drawing room.

Currently the seats for the academic body on the sides and the rearrangement of the numerous coats of arms dot the Classroom.

the "Anatomical Kitchen" and anatomical theater

The first permanent anatomical theater made of wood, in the world. is still preserved in the Palazzo del Bo, It was was inaugurated in 1595 by Girolamo Fabrici of Acquapendente, according to the project of Paolo Sarpi

the Galileo Galilei Podium ( Galileo Galilei),

the Hall of Forty (la Sala dei Quaranta),

derives its name from the forty portraits of illustrious international scholars painted by Gian Giacomo dal Forno. Each of the scholars made groundbreaking contributions in their respective fields through their studies while in Padua and in their countries of origin. The scholars include scientists, jurists, humanists, physicians and anatomists who all lived in Padua sometime between the 14 and 15 c

the Hall of Medicine (la Sala di Medicina),

the Hall of Law (Sala di Giurisprudenza).

the Old Archive (l'Archivio Antico)

The Capitano Palazzo (1532), now the university library;

The Palazzo del Capitano the work of Falconetto in the years 1599-1605, has a peculiarity, its astronomical clock or the Arc dell'Orologio is from 1532

Near this palace are the Loggia della Gran Guardia, built in the years 1496-1523, the del Capitanio and after crossing the arch, the Liviano building built in 1939 by Gio Ponti, where the Faculty of Arts and the Museum of Art and Arqueology is located.

The civic museum has a fine art gallery with great works by Donatello . as well as historical and archaeological exhibits, with and Roman or Greek objects, libraries, archives, and collections of sculpture and coins.

Food The one very good dinner we had on the night we stayed over was

at a traditional palce, few steps from Piazza delle Erbe and the Palazzo della Ragione Dante Alle Piazze (here)

We were sad to depart Padua which we felt could be much more explored, however

Vicenze was calling our attention as well , and we wanted to dedicate enough time to visit there some Paladian architecture

To be Continued...


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