Padova, Europe’s first commercial center

Rich in art and culture, Padova offers many opportunities to discover the wonders of the city.

The soul of Padova is found in the main squares of the historic center which are Piazza delle Erbe and Piazza dei Frutti. These squares are the center of social and business life in the city , especially within the thirteenth-century building of the Palazzo della Ragione, called “Salone” by locals. The building consists of a large frescoed halls and is the former seat of the city courts. For 800 years, the building has also been home to the so-called “Sotto Al Salone” market, making it the oldest shopping center in Europe. The Salone is the social center of the city with many Padovan people visiting to shop, stop for a snack, meet in bars for a chat or for a glass of wine or spritz.


Another important square in Padova is the beautiful Prato della Valle. The elliptical-shaped square measures 90,000 metres, making it the largest square in Italy and one of the largest in Europe. The square features and island in the center called Isola Memmia, from the name of the Venetian politician Andrea Memmo who commissioned the project. The island is surrounded by a canal which is lined with 78 statues dedicated to many famous Padovans of the past. The square is beautiful and is often busy especially when it hosts when it hosts a daily fruit and vegetable market as well as clothing and antiques market several times during the year.

Hall of Flavors

In its eight centuries of history the ancient market “Sotto Al Salone” has become a symbol of the city of Padova and unique place in Italy. Acting as a meeting point between the passion of chefs and food producers and the love from local consumers.

Since the Middle Ages this market has showcased the agricultural wealth of the surrounding countryside, making the city’s flourish as a business center for surrounding villages. This tradition has continued through generations for decades and has become a gathering of the best Padovan food has to offer.

The hall is filled with the enchanting scents from the food and wine specialties that can be found there. Cheeses, cured meats, hams, meats, fish, wine, fruit and vegetables give an intoxicating sensory experience for people who continue to visit this market every single day. The people of Padova have always loved the Sotto Al Salone and it has been the beating heart of city life for the last 800 years.

Traditional Dishes

Padova offers a wide variety of quality dishes that celebrate the authentic italian ingredients from the area. Among the first courses, risottos made with a mix of local herbs is the standout, then some homemade pastas, from the “bigoi” to the tagliatelle are popular. Padova is also known for the animals raised in the area, such as the Padovan hen, pigeon and donkey, all often prepared in a stew with a side of polenta. Other products to mention are the exquisite Prosciutto Veneto Berico-Euganeo DOP, honey from the Euganean Hills and high-quality Padovan cheeses.

Bars in Padova are the ideal place to spend the evenings in the company of friends tasting excellent wines, especially Prosecco. Cocktails of all kinds and certainly the well-known Spritz, the Padovan aperitif which is usually accompanied by small samples of local products . Finally, there are many delicacies and delights found in the bakeries and ice-cream parlors of the city, starting with the “torta patientina”, a dessert made with almond paste and zabaglione covered with chocolate, and “zaettis”, Veneto sweets whose name derives from the typical yellow colour of polenta flour.

Photos: Foto Consorzio Abano Montegrotto / DMO Padova

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