The Mole Diaries: Padua
Claire is studying French, Italian and Spanish at Aberystwyth University and is coming to the end of her year abroad having worked in France for 6 months and studied in Padua as an Erasmus student. Here she passes on her top tips for surviving in the Italian city: how to get there, where to live, what to pack, things to do, places to see and what to expect in Padua/Padova.
1. How to get there
The best way to get to Padova is to fly to Venice Marco Polo, from there you can take a SITA bus (€8 one way) directly to Padova bus/train station. If this is not an option you can also fly to Treviso and take a bus from there to Padova.
If you are planning on coming to Padova as an Erasmus student I would definitely recommend going through the university accommodation office (SASSA). This is easily done online and providing you get paperwork and payments sent off in time you are fine. A friend of mine took the “chill out, it’s Italy!” approach and ended up coming with nowhere to live at first – Luckily he came with me upon arrival to get my keys and paperwork and they offered him a university room that had been rejected by another student. I found this the best experience – I was given a single room in an apartment with 4 Italian girls, all very friendly and willing to help me with my Italian when necessary! I am in a block of apartments (mostly Italians and also a lot of Albanians) so as well as having the quiet atmosphere to chill out/study in, we also have the odd weekend party to get to know each other better and talk about where we come from! Accommodation with the university tends to cost between €180 and €270 per month, depending on location and whether you share a room or not (you can usually choose this).
3. What to pack
Padua is a very humid place so when it looks like British weather outside, add 10 degrees! Despite this, on a 25 degree day the Italians will still walk around town in coats and scarves and glare at your bare legs/sandals so you do get used to the heat eventually. The down side is that when it rains here, it really does pour, normally for maybe 2 days straight - Definitely pack an umbrella! Generally it is nice and warm so you shouldn’t need too many warm clothes. I would not advise bringing heels or shoes with a thin sole, it’s too cobbly here! Don’t forget plug adaptors (most sockets take 2-pin adaptors despite having three holes) and also several passport photos/form of ID – You seem to need these everywhere throughout registration etc.
I found in France that if I got especially homesick/wanting home comforts I could find these in supermarkets, here not so much - so if there is anything you think you will miss, pack it! In my case this was “proper English tea bags”, squash and even some baked beans – It is good to live like an Italian but every now and then it is normal to miss things!
4. Out and about
In Padova you will most probably need a bike so before you do any of the below, get yourself a second hand bike for €15-35 (alternatively bus passes are 1.20 for 75 mins, it gets expensive after a while and if you forget to stamp it when getting on, you will probably be fined €50).
- Prato della Valle – Great to wander around/sunbathe at yet a surprisingly good place to go jogging in the evenings too!
- Basilica St Antonio – Next to Prato della Valle, it is amazing from the outside and inside – On the inside you can visit the relic chapel and see Saint Anthony’s tongue and vocal chords (essential things to do of course!)
- Basilica Santa Giustina – Very close to the other basilica, huge and very pretty looking but a little empty on the inside.
- Piazza dei Signori, Piazza delle Erbe, Piazza delle Frutta – All are located right next to each other and as well as being the main place for students to meet in the evening, they are also filled with gelaterias, pizzerias, little spritz bars and a huge market during the day.
- Via Roma – This is the main street through town, it has some great little restaurants and loads of good shops (Including H&M!)
5. Where to go outside Padua
Being in such a good location, it is easy to reach some brilliant places to visit, such as:
- Venice (€3.50 train journey, priceless!)
- Lake Garda
- Milan (Longer journey but do-able from €19 each way)
- Florence/ Pisa/ Siena (As with Milan, longer but not too expensive)
The ESN Padova group (€10 to sign up for a card) arrange lots of little trips (including ski trips, trips to Hungary/Slovenia, boat trips, karaoke nights etc) which is a great way to socialise with other Erasmus students. I met some of my friends on the first night by attending an ESN sangria night at Prato della Valle! They also arrange evenings at weekends at Factory Club (near the station, €10 for an annual entry card)
6. Things to expect
Everything here tends to be very slow, registration included. Expect to be sent away to return in a week to then be told the same thing/sent elsewhere – Organisation definitely isn’t first on the priority list. Take extra money for the unexpected – On arrival you have to buy two “Marco da bollo” at nearly €15 each, as well as paying €8.50 “university insurance” – I was never told what this was for. Other emergencies such as trips to the pharmacy/doctor may also crop up – They did to me and it was money spent that I had not put aside! The first few weeks can be hectic and overwhelming, keep calm because it’s well worth it once you are settled in.
I would definitely recommend Padova for Italian Erasmus – It is incredibly hard to run out of things to do, the locals are friendly enough (still the not moving out of the way in the street/bus, but nothing overly rare!), and if all else fails you can jump on a train for a change of surroundings… I will be sad to leave!