Elegant Padova -- known in English as Padua -- is home to an ancient university, a Basilica that is an important centre for pilgrims and a chapel containing one of the world’s greatest art treasures. Use this website to help you plan a visit to this fascinating northern Italian city and find your way to the other beautiful towns and villages in the Veneto that are perhaps less well known to tourists.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Gaspara Stampa


Great Italian female poet was born in Padua


Gaspara Stampa, the greatest female poet of the Italian Renaissance, died on this day in 1554 in Venice at the age of 31.

She is regarded by many as the greatest Italian female poet of any age, despite having had such a brief life.

Gaspara was born in Padua and lived in the city until she was eight years old. Her father, Bartolomeo, had been a jewellery and gold merchant, but after he died, Gaspara’s mother, Cecilia, took her three children to live in Venice.
The Caffe Pedrocchi in the centre of Padua
  is now a meeting place for writers


Along with her sister, Cassandra, and brother, Baldassare, Gaspara was educated in literature, music, history and painting. She excelled at singing and playing the lute and her home became a cultural hub as it was visited by many Venetian writers, painters and musicians.

Gaspara dedicated most of her poems to Count Collatino di Collalto of Treviso , with whom she had an affair. When he broke off the relationship she was devastated and suffered from depression, but she wrote some of her most beautiful poems at this time, creating for herself a lasting literary reputation.

Only three of her poems were published during her lifetime, although many were circulated among her literary friends in Venice.

Gaspara went to live in Florence for some time because of poor health, hoping that the milder climate might help her. But on her return to Venice in 1554 she became ill with a fever and died after 15 days on 23 April. The parish register recorded the cause of her death as ‘fever and colic’, although the theory has also been put forward that it could have been a suicide.

The first edition of Gaspara Stampa’s poetry, Rime di Madonna Gaspara Stampa, was published in Venice six months after her death.

Gaspara’s 311 poems are considered to be the most important collection of female poetry of the 16th century. They were edited by Gaspara’s sister, Cassandra, and the edition was dedicated to the Florentine poet and writer, Giovanni della Casa.

The German poet, Rainer Maria Rilke, refers to Gaspara Stampa in the first of his Duino Elegies, which were written while he was staying at Duino Castle on the Adriatic coast near Trieste . The Duino Elegies are now considered to be his greatest work.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Bassano del Grappa

Take a day trip to this gem of the northern Veneto


The Ponte Vecchio - or Ponte degli Alpini - was originally  built by Andrea Palladio in 1568
The Ponte Vecchio - or Ponte degli Alpini - was originally
built by Andrea Palladio in 1568
To travel to Bassano del Grappa, which is to the north of Padua, takes about an hour by car or by train, but this elegant town in the province of Vicenza is well worth seeing.

Bassano is in the foothills of the Alps and there are stunning mountain views from many of its street corners.

The town’s most famous landmark is the covered wooden bridge designed by Andrea Palladio in 1568 that still spans the Brenta River. It was badly damaged at the end of World War II by the retreating German army and lovingly rebuilt and restored by the town’s Alpini, a contingent of Italy’s prestigious alpine troops.

Bassano has become famous for producing the eponymous alcoholic drink, Grappa, which is enjoyed by Italians as a digestivo or liqueur. The drink derives its name from the graspa, or remnants, of the grapes that are left over after wine making, while the town is named after Monte Grappa, a mountain of the Venetian Prealps.

The huge Torre Civica towers over Piazza Garibaldi, one of Bassano's central squares
The huge Torre Civica towers over Piazza
Garibaldi, one of Bassano's central squares
There are bars and shops where you can taste the different varieties of Grappa, or buy some as a souvenir to take home, including several on either side of the Ponte Vecchio, or Ponte degli Alpini, as the wooden bridge has also become known.

The Museo degli Alpini, at the end of the bridge nearest the historic centre of the town, was founded with just a few items in 1948 after the first post-war national assembly of the Alpini, but it has grown over the years, as objects from both world wars have been donated.

Once you have crossed the bridge you will soon see the Torre Civica, 43m (141ft) tall, which was once a lookout tower inside the 12th century walls, but now serves as a clock tower.

In Piazza Garibaldi, one of the biggest squares, is the 14th century Church of San Francesco, which has a tranquil cloister housing the Museo Civica, the town’s museum. The museum has the biggest collection of works by local artist Jacopo dal Ponte, who was also known as Jacopo Bassano.

In the adjoining square, Piazza Libertà, there is a 17th century sculpture of San Bassiano, the town’s patron saint, and a market is held there every Thursday.

The Viale dei Martiri serves as a poignant
memorial to 31 partisans executed there in 1944
In the highest part of the city you can visit the remains of the 12th century Castello Ezzelino. Within its walls is the town’s Duomo - the Cathedral of Santa Maria in Colle - which dates back to the 11th century.

Nearby, the beautiful, peaceful Viale dei Martiri has lovely mountain views and provides a poignant memorial to 31 young partisans who were executed there by the Germans in September 1944.

Many were hung from the trees that line the road and today each tree bears the name of the soldier who was murdered there and many display a photograph of the young victim. The road, formerly, Viale XX Settembre, was renamed in their honour.

Should you wish to stay longer in Bassano del Grappa, the pleasant Hotel Victoria is recommended. Situated in Viale Armando Diaz, just a short walk from the historic centre, the Victoria has friendly, welcoming staff and all the facilities you would expect from a traditional Italian hotel.

Home