Sheraton Hotel, Padua ****
The Sheraton Hotel in Padua - the superb modern layout of this Padua hotel offers you a splendidly comfortable and contemporary way to see one of Italy's most fascinating and ancient cities. View hotel
Double rooms from €68
Hotel Garibaldi, Padua ***
Hotel Garibaldi, Padua - a superb modern hotel, close to the motorway exit (Padova Est) and to the Padua Fair business district, yet this Padua hotel is also great for exploring the centre of this historic northern Italian city. View hotel
Double rooms from €45
The city of Padua (or Padova) in the north-eastern Italian region of Veneto is one of the most ancient cities in Italy and has some superb sights - most famously the Giotto frescoes and the relics of St Anthony of Padua. A Roman municipium from 45BC, it has had a university since 1221, which attracted major artists including Donatello, Giotto and Fra Filippo Lippi. Padua was the birthplace of Andrea Palladio, who pretty much invented neoclassical architecture for the Italian country house (and thence throughout Europe).
The town also became a major pilgrimage centre (St Anthony again). It passed from the Huns, to the Goths, Greeks, Lombards, Franks, Magyars, Veneto and Austria. Even the 20th century saw much invaded Padua suffer again, this time from Allied bombing during World War II (the city was home to the Nazi puppet state of the Italian Social Republic).
Lost during the bombings was the superb Eremitani church, with its Mantegna frescoes. Much of importance survived however, and main sights in the town include the Cappella degli Scrovegni, the chapel housing the Giotto frecoes. The Palazzo della Ragione has more frescoes, and reputedly the largest roof unsupported by columns in Europe. See too the Basilica di Sant'Antonio da Padova (Il Santo) and St George's Oratory (frescoes by Altichiero and Titian). There is the 10th century church of St Sofia, and the city art gallery in the bombed Church of the Eremitani. Ensure you take coffee in the marvellous Caffe Pedrocchi, a neoclassical gem from 1831.