At first glance, Pavia – ancient town 35 kilometres south of Milan – surprises its visitors with hordes of young students roaming the historic centre. Now, try to imagine how the same scene would have been a few centuries ago.
Get out of your mind tablets, smartphones and music players. Look around for a young Albert Enstein, just arrived with his family to spend one year in this Italian town. Or you might see Italian writer and revolutionary Ugo Foscolo.
Culture is all over Pavia.
Its ancient origin and glorious past made up for an heritage of invaluable artistic treasures. It is one of Europe’s most ancient university town. On his desks studied some of the most illustrious minds of past and present. Italian physicist and battery inventor Alessandro Volta undertook here his first experiments over electricity.
If you arrive at the train station, you ‘must’ stop at the ancient Caffè Demetrio – now renamed Annabella Café – which since 1758 is the meeting point of the traditional side of town. The flashy red ceiling lamp is a unique piece of Murano glass, the famous artwork of the Venetian island Murano.
Pavia is also the town of a hundred towers and of many charming medieval churches.
The Basilica of Saint Micheal the Major, the Cathedral of Pavia (which had among its architects also Leonardo Da Vinci) and the Church of Saint Peter in the Golden Sky are just a few of the many tokens of Pavia’s golden age – the town has also been the capital of the Kingdom of the Lombards between 6th and 7th century.
Of the many towers with their characteristic clocks, today there is a small and precious testimony in Piazza Leonardo Da Vinci.
Before continuing towards the Certosa – an unmissable stop-over of the surrounding area – take some time for a walk along the river Ticino. Here the local people relax, jog, enjoy a gelato, chat seated on a bench or take an aperitif at the tables of the many stands.
Crossing the popular Ponte Coperto you will find a plaque reporting a thought Albert Einstein shared with an Italian friend: An die schöne Brücke in Pavia habe ich oft gedacht, ‘I have often thought of the beautiful bridge in Pavia’.