Once known as the city of 100 towers, Pavia is a pretty city only a short drive from Milan. Home to an old reputable university, Pavia has plenty of sights to keep you busy for a day.
Pavia’s most famous landmark the Certosa di Pavia monastery, just a few miles outside the city. One of the largest monasteries in Italy, the Certosa combines Gothic and Renaissance architectural styles to a spectacular effect. You can easily spend several hours here admiring beautiful cloisters, spectacular frescoes, elaborate carvings of the apostles, saints and Roman emperors, stained glass windows.
In the city itself there is a pretty historic centre with churches and elegant palaces. In Piazza di Leonardo di Vinci near the University you can see a few surviving medieval towers. Check out the 14th century Castello Visconti that once was an opulent residence of a local nobleman, Galeazzo II Visconti. Today it is home to the Museo Civico, Museo del Risorgimento and an art gallery with excellent collections of Venetian paintings, Roman jewellery, pottery, glassware, mosaics and sculpture.
Pavia University was built in 1361 and had many star students over the centuries such as Christopher Colombus. You can learn about its history at the Museum of University of Pavia and walk around its elegant cloisters.
|Certosa di Pavia|
There are many important churches in Pavia but if you are short on time make sure to see the main cathedral with its impressive interior and enormous dome. It took almost 400 years to build with such illustrious masters as Leonardo da Vinci and Bramante participating in the project. The Church of San Michele is also worth a visit as it was a coronation venue for Charlemagne and Barbarossa.
Piazza della Vittoria is a good place to chill out after sightseeing. Take a sit in one of the bars or gelaterie here and relax surrounded by elegant palaces. No visit to Pavia would be complete without sampling the local cuisine. Try the zuppa alla pavese, a broth with slices of bread, cheese and raw eggs, risotto alla certosina with mushrooms and seafood or oca con le verze (goose and cabbage stew).
Photos via Flickr by: Pier Paolo Cedaro, Thierry Bignamini.