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Padua

Just a few miles west of Venice, extraordinary Padua was one of the locales in Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. Its beautiful streets hold numerous attractions, including a 13th-century university, what’s thought to be the oldest Italian clock (the 1344 clock tower at Palazzo del Capitano) and various other art-filled, eye-pleasing buildings. If you’ve lost anything, then you’re in the right city: St. Anthony, the saint of lost things, is also the patron saint of Padua. Every 13 June, the saint’s feast day, thousands of pilgrims flock to the 13th-century Basilica di Sant’Antonio to pray for the recovery of whatever they have lost. The grand basilica is noted for its Byzantine influences and eight domes. On the square outside the church, admire Donatello’s equestrian statue of the statesman Gattemelata (the Honeyed Cat). But many art lovers make the trip to Padua just to visit the Scrovegni Chapel with Giotto’s stunning, gemlike frescoes, the most complete medieval fresco series still intact. Padua is best seen as a half-day trip from Venice. 20 mi/30 km west of Venice.

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