Padua – Day 4 – Part 3 – We Almost Visit the Basilica di Sant’Antonio

The Chiesa di San Francesco Grande can be found on Via San Francesco, and dates from 1414.  The portico in front is made up of 37 arches, all with terracotta decorations.  The lunettes of the porch were decorated with frescoes depicting stories from the life of San Francesco, by Francesco Squarcione, but, sadly, these are now mostly faded or lost.

On the facade of Palazzo Giusti, there is a plaque honoring “La Canzone della Nave.”  The palazzo, owned throughout its history by wealthy and noble families, was confiscated by the Fascist police in 1944, who turned it into a prison.  The conditions inside were terrible, with rooms divided into tiny cells, often so crowded with prisoners that it was impossible for them to walk, or to even stand.  The prisoners likened the experience to being in the small cabins of a ship, and one of them, Egidio Meneghetti, wrote a song about the experience, titled “La Canzone della Nave.”

A plaque marks the building in which Antonio Rosmini lived, while attending the University of Padua in 1816.  After graduating, he entered the priesthood and, later, founded the Institute of Charity.

The same building, Palazzo Giustiniani,  was also home to Niccolò Tommaseo, the Italian linguist, journalist, and essayist, from 1817 until 1820.

It seems that this palazzo was also the place where the Italian writer, translator, and poet, Melchiorre Cesarotti, died, on November 4th, 1808.

Certainly, one of the most popular destinations in the city of Padua is the Basilica di Sant’Antonio, which was our next stop.  We approached the basilica from the side, not realizing what we were about to encounter, once we entered Piazza del Santo, and saw the front of the building.  Since it is so famous, we expected to find more of a crowd than we had seen before in the city, but we were totally unprepared for the number of people that were there.  As it turned out, there was some sort of pilgrimage happening, with busloads of people from what appeared to be India, or thereabouts.  There was a long mass being celebrated inside the basilica, which was also being broadcast into the piazza outside, as not everyone could enter the building.  Because of the number of people, and thinking that this celebration could go on for hours, we chose to admire the basilica from the outside only, saving a visit to its interior for our next trip to Padua.

In the piazza in front of the basilica, you will find the Monumento al Gattamelata, Donatello’s equestrian monument dating from 1446.  The statue depicts the Renaissance condottiero, Erasmo da Narni, known as “Gattamelata,” who served under the Republic of Venice, at the time.

Before leaving the area, we did manage to get a peek inside the basilica’s cloister.


Next up: We escape the crowds at the basilica, and head over to the Botanical Garden!


Note: This blog is written in English and Spanish, and the author takes no responsibility for the quality of any other translations that may appear.  If you have enjoyed this post, please, check out our archives for more posts from Padua, as well as other Italian destinations.  Grazie!


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