1. Padua: Highlights Private Walking Tour & Scrovegni Chapel
Home to one of the world’s oldest universities, the spectacular pilgrimage basilica of Saint Anthony and a landmark of Renaissance art in Giotto’s Scrovegni Chapel, Padua is a treasure trove of art, history and culture that you can’t afford to miss. In the company of an expert local guide you’ll wander through an atmospheric tangle of medieval streets, explore an incredible 800-year old covered market, discover a glittering array of sculptures, frescoes, architecture and much more. Just half an hour from Venice, Padua makes for a perfect day trip from the Serenissima. Historic Padua is one of the most beautiful cities in Italy. Our half-day Padua tour is the perfect way to get to grips with the city. We only work with expert local guides who know everything there is to know about the city and are passionate about sharing their hometown with you. At the heart of everything in Padua is its massive, dizzying cathedral, and the Basilica di San Antonio will be one of the highlights of our itinerary. Begun in 1233 just a year after the eponymous Anthony's death as a fitting burial place for the revered saint, the vast basilica is a fascinating mish-mash of architectural styles and cultural influences. Within, a maze-like array of chapels are home to some of Italy's finest artistic masterpieces. Among the highlights we'll see on our tour are the sculptural reliefs by Donatello on the church's high altar and a series of incredible medieval frescoes by local master Altichieri da Zevo. As the burial place of St. Antony, the basilica is also one of Italy's most important pilgrimage destinations. We'll also have a peek into the Cappella del Santo, where the saint's tomb is covered by requests for intercession from the faithful. The Renaissance sculptures portraying the life of St. Anthony by the Lombardi brothers here is another unmissable highlight. Wandering through the historic center of Padua we'll get the chance to stop by at the city's incredible covered market, which has been in continuous operation in the arches of looming Gothic Palazzo della Ragione for 800 years. The twin piazzas of Piazza delle Erbe and Piazza della Frutta to either side of the palace is the perfect spot to stop for a drink and watch the denizens of Padova go about their business in a ritual that seems little changed over the centuries. There's so much to see in Padua that we're happy to customise your tour to suit you. If you have some extra time in the city and would like to see more of its amazing artistic heritage, we can include a visit to the Ovetari Chapel in the church of the Eremtiani to admire Mantegna's masterful frescoes of St Christoper and St James - blown to smithereens by a World War II bomb but painstakingly restored over the last half a century. Other highlights that we can include on your tour are the city's magnificent Baptistery, where Giusto da Menabuoi's depictions of heaven are amongst the wackiest examples of Medieval cosmology anywhere.