TRAVEL GUIDE: TRYING AND FAILING TO STAY CALORIE NEUTRAL IN PADUA, ITALY

If there’s ever a holiday where your running trainers need to leave your suitcase, Italy is it. Consuming Aperol spritz, pizza and tiramisu like you’ll never eat again, and constantly being told that you have spinatta in your teeth or gelato around your mouth.

As an added incentive to get them out, it’s always worth checking if there’s a Parkrun happening near you. Luckily for the waistline, Italy is now home to 13 Parkruns and one of these is in Padua. Just three volunteers are needed to set up and marshal the course, which consists of four flat laps of Farfalle (Butterfly) Park, in the north east of town, about one and a half miles from the central train station. A walk or jog there makes for a nice opportunity to see a bit more of the city, and no need to worry about the additional miles being a problem when you’re powered by Italian espresso, (just make sure you look the right way for oncoming trams). The average number of participants at the moment at Padua Parkrun is just 19 and in August at least half of them seem to be British tourists, some who had made the early morning water taxi > train > bus journey from Venice. It’s a decent mix of terrain - grass, mud, gravel paths and woodland trails. Although well signposted, the frequent twists and turns take a bit of concentration. It begins and ends at the park cafe which sells espressos, water, fresh fruit and cakes for a pre- or post-run pick me up. Definitely worth getting out of bed and gaining a few more pasta points for.

Padua itself is a charming university city, with wide cobbled streets that are largely pedestrianised. It’s littered with piazzas, statues, churches, and al fresco drinking opportunities. In the holidays the students are out of town and leave it with a very peaceful vibe, which will be a welcome break if you take the short train ride to Venice (which you must) where it’s bursting at the seams with tourists.

Ten things to do in Padua (assuming you largely want to eat and drink): 

  1. See the 13th-century frescoes at Scrovegni Chapel, masterpieces of Western art.

  2. Have a very special coffee at Pedrocchi Café (Via VIII Febbraio, 15) - ask for the Pedrocchi coffee.

  3. Walk, jog or run Padua Parkrun in Farfalle Park.

  4. Take the 30-40 minute train ride to explore Venice for the day.

  5. There’s no bad gelato in Italy but try Grom, Venchi, Ciokkolatte Il Gelato che Meriti, La Romana or Gelateria Portogallo.

  6. There’s no bad pizza in Italy but these pizza places are good and will generally allow you to take away if they are too busy to seat you: Pizzeria Al Duomo (Via S. Gregorio Barbarigo), Pizzeria Pago Pago (Via Galileo Galilei 59 - closed on Saturday), Pizzeria  Rossopomodoro (Via Santa Lucia, 68), Pizzeria Mandrillo (Via Santa Lucia, 59).

  7. There’s no bad coffee in Italy but you can try Patavinus Bakery (Via Roma, 120), Goppion Caffetteria (Piazza delle Erbe, 6), Pasticceria al Duomo (Via Vandelli Domenico, 2).

  8. Have a drink at Piazza dei Signori (a piazza full of bars where the whole city seems to congregate in the evening).

  9. Have an aperitif at Caffè Veneto (people watching on Via Roma, 53) or Bar Nazionale (Piazza delle Erbe, 41).

  10. Try these restaurants: Enotavola Pino (Via dell'Arco, 37) - also good for just a drink, Antonio Ferrari (Via Umberto I, 15) - also good for just a drink, Bacaro Padovano (Via S. Gregorio Barbarigo, 3), Al Vecchio Falconiere (Via Umberto I, 31) - serious meat eaters only and a lovely terrace out the back, Gourmetteria ( Via Zabarella, 23) - burgers and much more, Passando Per Modena (Prato della Valle, 117) - a celebration of food and culture from Modena in Italy and Lambrusco is served with everything!

Image credit: Pietro Rampazzo on Unsplash