In Pavia, you’ll find a beautiful cityscape, a meandering river, delectable cuisine, and world-class wine. Pavia, a former Lombard kingdom capital, is located 35 kilometres south of Milan on the left bank of the Ticino River. It is a quick train ride from Milan and makes for an ideal day trip away from the chaos of the larger city. It is home to one of Europe’s oldest universities, and notable events and figures from its history include Einstein, who spent time there, Nikola Tesla, who worked at the town’s prestigious university and the Coronation of Charlemagne in the town cathedral.
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The art of the Italian Aperitivo with a local: Learn & Enjoy in Pavia
Your day in Pavia is just winding down, the sun’s about to set… It’s time for an Aperitivo. This glamorous Italian tradition is loved all over the world, and this is your chance to learn how to prepare it for yourself, the perfect souvenir. Preparing the perfect aperitivo is an art; you will learn how to prepare a selection of five elegant nibbles to pair with with a refreshing glass of fizz, ideal for sharing with friends in the early evening.
It was known as the “city of a hundred towers,” with more than 150 towers dating back to the 11th and 12th centuries, only a dozen of which still stand. Regardless, strolling through Pavia is a pleasure, and there is still much to admire as you explore the medieval centre’s tiny alleys, which are even more alluring during drinks and snacks at happy hour. Because tourists rarely overrun the city and it is always clean and hospitable, it may be visited at any time of year, though spring and fall provide the most fabulous weather.
The entire city of Pavia is walkable. As a starting point for a city tour, visitors should head to its most famous landmark: the Duomo di Pavia. An outstanding Renaissance structure, the Duomo has an octagonal brick dome that is one of the largest in both height and width in Italy. The Basilica di San Michele, an antique church and a superb example of Romanesque Lombardy architecture, is located just a few blocks away. A reconstruction of a seventh-century structure damaged by an earthquake, the church is filled with Renaissance-era artefacts and beautiful frescoes.
Another unmissable sight in Pavia is the Castello Visconteo, built-in 1360 as a mansion for an affluent local family, with just four of its towers still standing. Despite its dismantling, the castle remains enormous, and one could easily spend hours examining its magnificent façade, interiors and mullioned windows. The medieval castle now serves as the home of the Musei Civici, a museum dedicated to documenting the history of Pavia and the surrounding region.
The city is also home to a Renaissance architectural gem, The Charterhouse of Pavia, located approximately nine kilometres outside the city centre. It is a magnificently decorated Carthusian monastery, once dubbed “the greatest decorative masterpiece in all of Italy.” While the interior is Gothic in design, the décor is predominantly Renaissance, with accents of Baroque tossed in for good measure. The monks of the Cistercian order live at the monastery, which is open to the public, but they maintain their vow of silence.
Where To Eat and Drink
Good Morning Vietnam
The restaurant’s contemporary interpretation of traditional Vietnamese food makes it a suitable substitute for the city’s Italian restaurants. With grey walls and wooden bar height tables and chairs, it compensates for its lack of interior flair with a polished menu. The Pho, summer rolls and spicy tuna are all fantastic.
Where: Corso Str. Nuova, 19, 27100 Pavia
Opening Hours: Monday and Tuesday – Closed. Wednesday to Sunday 12:30–15:00, 19:15–23:00
Osteria della Madonna
Osteria della Madonna’s traditional Lombard food is satisfying, even if the establishment’s real star is a still-functioning 1964 coffee machine. The delectable Antipasto della Madonna is a mixture of tastes, and it includes carpaccio with parmesan, fried polenta with cheese, walnuts, and other things.
Where: Via dei Liguri, 28, 27100 Pavia
Opening Hours: Monday – Closed. Tuesday to Friday 19:30–22:30, Saturday to Sunday 12:30-14:30, 19:30–22:30
Infernot - Enoteca Wine Shop & Bar
Infernot-Enoteca is Pavia’s first wine shop to offer tastings. Their cuisine comprises delicious regional specialities and unexpected Sicilian treats, while the bar’s natural wines leave patrons thirsty for more. It’s impossible not to be moved by the owner’s passion when presenting the menu’s dishes and, more significantly, when detailing which wine to combine with which meal.
Where: Via Lorenzo Mascheroni 48, 27100 Pavia
Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday 17:00–00:00, Sunday – Closed
Where to Stay
The lavender and grey combination decors in the hotel’s classic rooms exude overcompensating contemporary design rather than old elegance combined with modernity, which is a touch underwhelming for a hotel that has welcomed travellers from all over the world since 1912. However, one cannot deny the hotel’s good service and strategic central location.
Where: Viale Vittorio Emanuele II, 41, 27100 Pavia
Reception services: 24-hour front desk
The Arnaboldi Palace is perfect for a romantic getaway if you can afford the hefty price tag. A wonderland of paintings, engravings, prints, and antique furnishings awaits in each of the luxurious rooms and suites. The magnificent party hall with its original crystal chandelier has a ten-meter high ceiling adorned in lovely historical stuccos.
Where: Via Varese, 8, 27100 Pavia
Reception services: 24-hour front desk
32 BnB Camerecaffè
32 BnB features recently refurbished rooms with wooden floors and clean decors, making the ambience pleasant and welcoming. The dining room serves a breakfast buffet with views of the city’s roofs and historic towers.
Where: Corso Giuseppe Garibaldi, 32/B, 27100 Pavia
Reception services: Check-in 15:00 – 21:00, Check-out 11:00
Where to Shop and What For
The Greengrocer Boutique
The store exudes enthusiasm and an upbeat, polished, and personable vibe with a passion for colour and uniqueness. As though at an art gallery or the counters of the best greengrocers, the colourful dresses, selected with great taste and extensive research, are arranged in perfect harmony.
Where: Via Cardinale Riboldi, 24, 27100 Pavia
Opening Hours: Monday 16:00–19:30. Tuesday to Saturday 10:00-12:30, 16:00-19:30. Sunday-Closed.
Storie di carta - Il mercatino
A shop in the city centre that is popular with locals is home to over a thousand books and pieces of furniture. You can immerse yourself in a world of antique and vintage items of all shapes and sizes and priced to fit any budget.
Where: Via Omodeo, 9, 27100 Pavia
Opening Hours: Monday and Sunday – Closed. Tuesday – Saturday 9:00–13:00, 15:00–19:00.
Ancote Women's Shop
Ancote is a fashion destination for all Pavia residents. With its modern reflective interiors, the boutique communicates a new language while remaining true to its heritage and the culture that inspires it. The store is a destination for stylish ladies and men who want to suit their new needs – comfort and versatility – without losing style.
Where: Corso Str. Nuova, 26a, 27100 Pavia
Opening Hours: Monday 15:30–19:30, Tuesday 9:30–12:30, 15:30–19:30
What Else Is In The Area?
Orto Botanico di Pavia
Not to be missed is the botanical garden of Pavia, an excellent spot for a breath of fresh air while enjoying the scenery. On the one-hectare property, there are several greenhouses, including those that house plants from the Mediterranean region and others that house plants from the tropics.
Where: Via Sant’Epifanio, 14, 27100 Pavia
Opening Hours: Saturday and Sunday 10:00-18:00
Anatomical Theatre at the University of Pavia
Pavia’s anatomical theatre, hidden among the University of Pavia’s museums, is an intriguing swirling temple of medical knowledge. Historically, it was a spot where doctors dissected corpses while students sat on the levels above, soaking up all the information.
Among other crazy things, the museum displays the aneurism that killed mathematician Vincenzo Brunacci in 1818 and the bladder of prominent naturalist Lazzaro Spallanzani, who died in 1799 of kidney cancer.
Where: Corso Str. Nuova, 65, 27100 Pavia