Located in the Veneto region of Italy, it could be argued that Padova sits behind its neighbours Vicenza and Treviso in terms of city elegance. However, Padova itself has its own distinctive charms with architectural ruins, restaurants and museums. It is also the setting for most of the action in Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. Both Oscar Wilde and Victor Hugo also wrote plays that were set in the city.
Standing on the Bacciglione River just 29km from the delights of Vicenza, Padova’s agricultural setting is the Venetian Plain (Pianura Veneta). As a seat of learning, it hosts the University of Padova which is one of the oldest in Europe. This academic establishment continues to give the city its youthful feel with hundreds of students inhabiting the city all year round.
The city is incredibly picturesque but mostly characterised by a dense network of arcaded streets that open into large communal piazza’s.
Annexed to Italy in 1866 the city flourished as an important military post during the 20th century. Since the 1960’s numerous industries and thriving business sectors have developed in the surrounding towns. Padova has also retained its important agricultural markets despite the constant growth of technology.
Perhaps the most distinctive location in Padova is the Prato della Valle (Prà deła Vałe in Venetian) a 90,000 square meter elliptical square. This space is the largest square in Italy and one of the biggest in Europe. Today, the square is a large public space with a green island at the centre, l’Isola Memmia.
The Prato della Valle is surrounded by a small canal bordered by two rings of stunning marble statues.
Just in the shadow of the Prato della Valle (Prà deła Vałe in Venetian) sits the Stadio Silvio Appiani, the one time home of Padova Calcio. The stadium and the square featured during the 1990’s on the Gazzetta Football Italia highlights show, which became the highest rated Saturday morning program in Channel 4’s history at the time.
Thanks to the signing of USA international footballer Alexi Lalas, Padova was one of the regular locations visited by James Richardson. With around 800,000 viewers a week in its first season of 1992-93 the show was characterized by host Richardson sitting at a cafe table in a piazza of a historic Italian town. There he would sit with an espresso and an ice cream where he would gesticulate at the Italian sports newspapers.
At its peak in the 1990s, live Football Italia coverage each Sunday attracted over 3 million viewers and remains the most watched programme in the UK about a non-British domestic football league.
Founded in 1910 Padova currently plays in Serie B, having last been in Serie A in 1996. The team’s official colours are white and red and the club crest is a white and red shield.
While the Biancoscudati golden years as a football club were the late 1950s (when the team were managed by Nereo Rocco and played host to the wing wizardry of Kurt Hamrin) the 1960s would see the club in Serie B before going into a serious decline ahead of a 1990’s revival.
That early 90’s revival saw Alex Del Piero start his career at Padova before he was transferred to Juventus.
Like many Italian clubs more recent years have seen the liquidation of the original club and its re-establishment. As recently as 2014 Padova were in Serie D and Lega Pro was not reached again until 2015.
On 6 July 2015, Padova changed its name to Calcio Padova Spa.
While the club now no longer plays games at the Stadio Silvio Appiani the stadium still exists although it is in no fit state to host football matches. None the less football remains a relief valve for the locals with the club now back in the relative heights of Serie B.
These days the club plays at the Euganeo Stadium, the fourth stadium to host the football of Calcio Padova after the Walter Petron; the “Giovanni Monti” and the Silvio Appiani stadiums. Unusually for Italy, it is a modern multi-purpose sports facility, planned in the 80’s and inaugurated in 1994.
Some famous players who have played for Padova are Kurt Hamrin, Walter Zenga, Angelo Di Livio, Alessandro Del Piero, Vincenzo Iaquinta, Demetrio Albertini, Goran Vlaović, Alexi Lalas, and Giuseppe Galderisi.
Many of those who played for the club are immortalised in colour within the Appiani Stadium; a colourful scene in some contrast to the crumbling terracing which sits across the pitch.