Pavia Things to Do

  • Athena/Minerva.
    Athena/Minerva.
    by IreneMcKay
  • Athena/Minerva.
    Athena/Minerva.
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  • The University of Pavia.
    The University of Pavia.
    by IreneMcKay

Most Recent Things to Do in Pavia

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    The duomo -cathedral.

    by IreneMcKay Updated Jan 11, 2014
    Pavia Cathedral.
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    Construction of Pavia Cathedral began in the 15th century. The cathedral apparently houses the remains of St. Sirus, who was the first Bishop of Pavia, and a thorn from the Crown of Thorns worn by Christ when he was crucified.

    The Civic Tower - Torre Civica - which stood next to the cathedral collapsed on March 17 1989 killing four people and injuring fifteen.

    The cathedral was closed during our visit. There is an equestrian statue on Cathedral Square outside the duomo.

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    Certosa di Pavia

    by IreneMcKay Written Jan 11, 2014
    Certosa di Pavia
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    The Certosa di Pavia is a monastery 8 km north of Pavia. It was built between 1396 and 1495. At one time it was located on the border of a large hunting park belonging to the Visconti family who occupied Pavia's castle.

    Certosa means a cloistered house of the monastic Carthusian Order. This order was founded in 1044 by Saint Bruno at Grande Chartreuse.

    To get there we got off the train at Certosa di Pavia Station. The complex is surrounded by walls and, although it is near the station, you have to walk for around 20 to 25 minutes round the walls to reach the entrance. We just made it in time to be allowed into the grounds of the complex but not inside the buildings themselves.

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    San Teodore

    by IreneMcKay Written Jan 11, 2014
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    The church of San Teodoro is called after a bishop who ran the Diocese of Pavia around AD 774.
    Inside the building there are marvellous sixteenth century frescoes depicting the miracles worked by St Theodore. In the nave you can see the famous fresco showing Pavia with many towers just as it appeared in 1522.

    I thought this church was incredibly beautiful and really enjoyed its paintings and miniature nativity scene.

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    Ponte Coperto

    by IreneMcKay Written Jan 11, 2014
    Ponte Coperto.
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    Ponte Coperto means covered bridge. It is also known as the Ponte Vecchio or Old Bridge. This bridge spans the Ticino River. The original bridge, which dated from 1354, was destroyed by allied bombing in 1945. Construction of a replacement bridge began in 1949. In the centre of the bridge there is a little chapel.

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    Piazza Della Vittoria

    by IreneMcKay Written Jan 11, 2014
    Piazza Della Vittoria.
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    This is the main square of Pavia. Its name translates as Victory Square and refers to Italy's victory in the first world war. However, locals often refer to it as Piazza Grande meaning big square. On the south side of the square stands the Broletto, an ancient medieval town hall, with a huge clock. The back of Pavia's duomo - cathedral - is visible from here.

    During our visit much of the centre of the square had been converted into an ice-skating rink and was being enjoyed by several children.

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    Castelo Visconteo

    by IreneMcKay Written Jan 11, 2014
    Castelo Visconteo
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    Castle Visconteo was built by Galeazzo II Visconti in 1360, soon after he captured the city. The castle was designed by architect Bartolino da Novara. Visconteo Castle was once the main residence of the Visconti family.

    The castle now houses several exhibitions. There was a Monet exhibition on when we visited. We just viewed the building from the outside and wandered around its central courtyard.

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    Towers

    by IreneMcKay Updated Jan 11, 2014
    Towers.
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    When we exited the back of the university onto Piazza Da Vinci, we were confronted by several tall towers.

    Pavia was once known as the city of one hundred towers. The first towers to be built were communal ones. Then wealthy families began to build their own private towers, vying with each other to see whose was the tallest.

    In 1989 the civic tower next to Pavia's cathedral suddenly fell down killing four people and injuring fifteen.

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    The University of Pavia.

    by IreneMcKay Updated Jan 11, 2014
    The University of Pavia.
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    The University of Pavia was founded in 1361 and consists of nine faculties.

    In 1858, the University was the scene of violent student protests against Austrian rule in northern Italy. Following these protests the university was temporarily shut down by the local authorities.

    The famous physicist Alessandro Volta held the chair of natural philosophy at Pavia University from 1769 until 1804. His statue adorns one of the university's courtyards.

    I thought it was a lovely building to wander around with its yellow walls and statue filled courtyards.

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    Pavia University

    by uglyscot Updated Apr 6, 2012

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    the cloisters

    The university of Pavia is one of the oldest universities in Europe; Originally a religious/legal institution in 825 AD , and then as a university established by Emperor Charles IV in 1361.

    My father insisted on taking us to the University of Pavia where there is a marble plaque, which, he assumed referred to an ancestor of ours; though I have been unable to confirm any such link. He insisted all the grandchildren , himself and I should be photographed beside it. Somehow one of mine escaped being in the picture.

    All I really remember were the shady cloisters and the typical ochre coloured walls the sense of age and solemnity.

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    Visit Fortunago

    by PALLINA Updated Aug 1, 2011

    Fortunago belongs to "I borghi piĆ¹ belli di Italia" (=Italy's most beautiful villages association) and deserves definitely a visit if you are in the OltrepĆ² Pavese area. I did not even know the name of Fortunago, but recently, I become close friend with a young lady coming from there, which initiated us to the village and to its marvellous traditional festivals. We already visited Fortunago Jammin' Festival (rock music) and La Schita, a sort of fried bread to be enjoyed either with sugar, or nutella, salt or ham, as you wish. On Aug 14th we will be there for La Paciada. I will tell you about it!
    Fortunago has celtic origins and almost every building is of cabble stone. The masterpiece is the church but even without visiting it, I strongly raccomend a stroll in the village.

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    Ponte Coperto

    by leics Written Mar 20, 2011

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    Ponte Coperto
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    Pavia's Medieval 'covered bridge' was destroyed by bombing in the Second World War but reconstructed in the 1940s.

    It's worth walking down to the river to see the bridge, even though it's 'new'...some of its columns are from the old bridge.

    You can see the stumps of the Medieval bridge slightly upriver. It was built in the early 1300s, on the base of a much earlier Roman bridge. In the middle of the river one of the roman granite bases is still visible, if the water is not too high.

    The little chapel at the centre of the bridge holds a wooden statue of St John Nepomuk which was fished out of the river after the bombings and restored.

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    San Teodoro

    by leics Updated Mar 20, 2011

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    Pavia in 1522
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    San Teodoro is south-west of the Duomo, towards the river, and well worth seeking out. It's in the oldest part of Pavia, where the Roman settlement once was.

    Dating from the 1100s, and still obviously ancient despite subsequent restorations, this smallish church impressed me greatly.

    It has the most superb 16th century (1500s) fresco by Bernadino Lanazani showing Pavia as it was in 1522...an almost-aerial view, with the 'hundred towers' clearly shown along with all the houses and streets.

    Several pillars are decorated with frescos of saints, dating to the 1200s are really rather attractive. The crypt has wonderful capitals which seemed to me to be much earlier in style than the 13th century construction date...I wonder if they were re-used from the older building?

    Excavations have uncovered parts of the mosaic floors of the original church (dedicated to St Agnes, apparently, and perhaps dating from the 700-800s) on whose foundations the existing church was built. They are covered in glass and difficult to photograph but their style has a very clear Roman influence.

    Definitely a place to seek out.

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    How many towers can you spot?

    by leics Written Mar 20, 2011

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    I haven't been able to find a definitive number for the still-existing towers and tower 'stumps' in Pavia, though I'm certain it exists.

    The town must have been astonishing when its towers were all standing...see the San Teodoro tip below for an 'aerial-view' fresco created at that time.

    The 'Tre Torre', near the university, give an idea of how it once was...the three of them are so incredibly tall and so incredibly close together.

    But I liked spotting the 'stumps' as well. I passed the first on my walk from the station, along Corso Cavour, but I noticed several more on my wanderings and I'm sure I must have missed others.

    I know towers were a status symbol of the time in other places and countries as well (e.g. Regensburg in Germany) but I am intrigued as to why Pavia once had quite so many of them. Or perhaps I'm looking at it the wrong way round: perhaps other places once had just as many, but for some reason Pavia became particularly famous for its towers?

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    San Michele

    by leics Written Mar 20, 2011

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    San Michele facade
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    San Michele is a very ancient church indeed. It is first mentioned in 682 (the existing building is not that old, of course) and, later, the kings of Northern Italy were crowned there.

    The western facade is a wonderful example of Romanesque architecture, dating from the 1100s, but time, weather and pollution have smoothed away so many of the intricate sandstone carvings and sculptures that its original magnificence can now only be imagined. There has been some restoration work, but restoration is not the same as the original...to be fair, the 'new' parts are pretty obvious.

    The interior has many wonderfully-carved capitals, of course, but those in the crypt seemed to me to be especially ancient in style.

    There is also an ancient an beautiful mosaic in the presbytery, but I couldn't gain access when I visited. That's a good reason to go back to Pavia another time! :-)

    San Michele is definitely a 'must-visit' place for those with any historical interest.

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    Do wander the streets...

    by leics Written Mar 20, 2011

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    Once a tower house? Or just very old indeed?
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    Pavia retains far more of its Medieval buildings and street layout than I had expected to find.

    As you wander and explore keep your eyes open not only for the 'stumps' of the many tower houses which once existed (and the few which still stand) but also for little glimpses of ancient buildings poking out from their more modern refurbishment. I've seen this is several places I've visited recently (not just in Italy); I like the idea of recognising a building's history by leaving some of its ancient features exposed.

    Always look up, because it is at the upper levels you are most likely to see e.g. Medieval windows. Explore the narrower alleyways...you never know what you will find at the end of them.

    I noticed quite a lot of blue plaques on various structures around the town...Pavia is clearly proud of its history. Although in Italian they give dates in Roman numerals, so you can see if a house dates from e.g. the 1400s.

    I especially liked the area to the west of the Duomo leading down to San Teodoro and then back towards the Ticino and its covered bridge, but all of central Pavia is worth exploring.

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