Countries Italy Padua Cultural Tours

Padua: Religion, Art and Learning

Clare Ford-Wille
Clare is an independent art historian. She has led study tours to Europe and lectured on European art, architecture and sculpture for more than thirty years, primarily for the University of London, the National Gallery, the V&A and NADFAS. She has also contributed to several academic guides.
What's included...
  • Return flights on British Airways (economy) to Venice
  • 3 nights in the 4-star Majestic Toscanelli Hotel
  • 3 breakfasts, 2 dinners and a lunch (lunches and dinners include wine, water and coffee)
  • A discussion with the restorer of Mantegna's magnificent Ovetari Chapel
  • The services of your lecturer and tour manager
  • A tour-guide headset system to make hearing the lecturer easier
  • Transport by luxury coach, as the itinerary requires
  • All tips and taxes
Hotel Majestic Toscanelli
Getting about
Participants should be reasonably fit. There is a significant amount of
walking, standing and use of stairs.
Inspirational tours frequently booked together
The Arena Chapel, also known as the Scrovegni Chapel, was commissioned by Enrico Scrovegni at the end of the 13th-century. The artist, Giotto, frescoed the interior of the chapel with scenes of the Life of Christ and the Life of the Virgin in 1305. The frescoes are of such importance as they demonstrate the shift away from the flatness of International High Gothic to the more naturalised form marking the start of what we now call, the Renaissance.

Sapienza Travel has negotiated extended time in the chapel to give you time to take-in this masterpiece of Western Art.
A tour of Palazzo Bo and the anatomical theatre which was the brainchild of the anatomist and surgeon Girolamo Fabrici d’Acquapendente. The theatre was completed in 1595, becoming the first example in the world of a permanent anatomical theatre, created for teaching anatomy through the dissection of corpses. Designed according to the stylistic canons of the Renaissance, the theatre remains as it was when first built.
Near St Anthony's Basilica, through a gate and up a flight of stairs, we find the Scoletta del Santo and a large room, dimly lit, yet richly decorated. On the walls a series of frescoes depicting scenes from the Life of St Anthony. Chief among them for their quality and their rarity are frescoes by Titian from 1511, very early in his career.
This cultural tour of Padua takes in the key historical scientific, religious and educational buildings in the city. Book your place on this fascinating small group escorted holiday to Italy. 

Padua’s cultural Renaissance started in the mid-thirteenth century as the town became wealthier. The University of Padua was established in 1222, the second-oldest in the world after Bologna. In 1306, new thinking arrived in the form of Islamic medicine and mathematics with the appointment of Pietro d'Abano. At the same time as Padua was establishing its reputation as a centre for education and learning, it was at Padua that Gallileo taught, that the fine and decorative arts were also flourishing. The city is probably best known as being home to Giotto’s Arena Chapel which took him six years to paint. He also frescoed the Palazzo della Ragione, though those frescoes no longer survive. But he was not the only master in Padua, a whole school of painters such as Giusto De' Menabuoi who frescoed the Baptistry, Jacopo d'Avanzo, Altichiero, Guariento and later Jacopo da Verona, lived and worked under the Carraresi Seigneury, as well as writers including Petrarch who spent his last years in Padua. Padua is the birthplace of the Renaissance master, Andrea Mantegna who painted the Ovetari Chapel frescoes, largely destroyed but painstakingly restored recently. As the might of the Venetian empire flexed its muscle, Padua came under its control and that can be seen in the architectural style of the buildings within the city.

Join Sapienza Travel to discover this small city which has played such a prominent role in the promotion of art, learning and science over the centuries.
After arriving in Padua, the first visit is to see Giotto’s world-famous Arena Chapel, richly frescoed with the life of Christ. Afterrwards, we enter the Church of the Ermetani for Mantegna’s now partially restored Ovetari chapel and Menabuoi’s beautiful frescoes in the Capella Maggiore. Later, we dine together.
After breakfast, we walk to the Oratoria delle Carita to see the chapter house walls, painted by Dario Varotari (the father of Padovanino) representing the Life of the Virgin. Inside the Lodge and Odeo Cornaro, we see statues of Diana, Venus and Apollo and frescoes of allegorical and mythological subjects. Before lunch together, we enter the Basilica of St Anthony, patron saint of the city, whose body is contained in a glorious tomb inside. The afternoon finds us inside the Oratorio di St Giorgio which is very similar in style to the Arena Chapel. The Scoletto del Santo has a series of frescoes, including some by Titian. The Basilica of S. Giustina contains altarpieces by Veronese, Sebastiano Ricci and Luca Giordano. We finish the day by walking through the Prato del Valle with its 78 statues on our return to the hotel. The evening is at leisure.
A day that is focuses more on science and learning, as we enter the famous Palazzo Bo and its operating theatre, after breakfast. We tour the anatomical theatre, the Galileo Galilei’s Aula Magna, The Hall of the Forty and the Aula di Medicina, where lectures on medicine were originally given. In Palazzo Liviano, we see frescoes by Domenico Campagnola and his collaborators. Padua’s Baptistery is dedicated to St John the Baptist and contains one of the most important fresco cycles of the 14th century, a masterpiece by Giusto da Menabuoi. After lunch (not included), we visit the almost fully-frescoed Basilica of Santa Maria del Carmine, before visiting the Palazzo Cavalli, built by the Foscari family in the 16th century. The ground floor decoration is believed to be by Michele Primon. We end the day in the Orartorio di San Roco which has frescoed walls with scenes of the life of San Rocco, by Domenico Campagnola, Girolamo Tessari, Gualtiero Padovano, Stefano dall'Arzare and Jan van Calcar. We dine at a Michelin-star restaurant on our last evening together.
After breakfast, we walk to the Loggia dei Carraresi which is the last surviving part of the Carrara Royal Palace, the grand residence of the Da Carrara, lords of Padua. La Loggia is still the seat of the ' Galilean Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters. In its rooms, it has the famous map of Padua built by Giovanni Valle in 1784. The rest of the morning is spent in the Civic Museum which houses a solid collection of paintings and sculpture from the 13thC onwards. After lunch (not included), we depart by coach to Venice for our flight to London, arriving early evening.
Sapienza Travel has booked rooms in different categories in the Majestic Toscanelli Hotel which are reflected in the prices for this tour.

Flights - British Airways London Gatwick to Venice departing at 11.45am.  Venice to London Gatwick departing at 5.15pm, arriving Gatwick at 6.30pm
If you would like to fly BA Club class, please contact us, and we will provide a price for the upgrade.
Accommodation at London Gatwick can be arranged on request. Please, contact us.

Travel advice - Please refer the Foreign Office's website to make sure you are comfortable with the travel advice they provide for the destination(s) you are visiting.

Activity level - Our tours involve a lot of walking, climbing stairs and standing still for periods of time. The historic centres of cities are often uneven and cobbled requiring everyone to be confident walking across them.

Clare Ford-Wille
Clare is an independent art historian. She has led study tours to Europe and lectured on European art, architecture and sculpture for more than thirty years, primarily for the University of London, the National Gallery, the V&A and NADFAS. She has also contributed to several academic guides.
Hotel Majestic Toscanelli
The Majestic Toscanelli is the only 4-star hotel situated in the historical centre of Padua, in what was the Jewish Ghetto during the Renaissance, near the three famous squares of the town: Piazza delle Erbe, Piazza della Frutta and Piazza dei Signori. In 1968 the original building was remodelled and became the family run hotel it is today. Its location and the amenities it provides makes it the perfect choice for your stay in this gem of a city.
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Duration: 4 days
from £895 per person
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Featured guides
Thomas Abbott
5 tours available
Charles Barber
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Veronique Biddell
2 tours available
Clare Ford-Wille
5 tours available
Kathryn Hallam Howard
1 tours available
Graham Harris
1 tours available
Christina Hemsley
1 tours available
Janis Kelly
3 tours available
Stella Grace Lyons
1 tours available
Sarah McBryde
1 tours available
Victoria Tate
1 tours available
Georgina Trevelyan-Clark
1 tours available
Tim Wright
1 tours available