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5 things every Classics student should know about Padua

At Forte Academy, we specialise in offering classical learning experiences in Italy that are mind-opening, interdisciplinary and off the beaten track. Whilst Classics students flock to Rome, we have always advocated for the benefits of a classical education in Florence.

But what do you know about the links between Classics & Padua? This ancient and intellectual city holds untold secrets for anyone interested in the classical world and its afterlife. Here are 5 facts just to get started…

1. It is more ancient than ancient Rome itself.

According to ancient historians, Padua (Latin: Patavium) was founded by the Trojan Antenor in 1183 BC-making it 430 years older than Rome.

After the Fall of Troy, Antenor is believed to have led a group of people known as the Eneti, or Veneti, from Paphlagonia to Italy. Despite the destruction caused by invading armies, several signs of Padua's antiquity are still visible in the city today.

2. It is the birthplace of Livy.

Much of what we know about Roman history before the Republic can be traced to Livy (Titus Livius) - best known for his huge 142-book History of Rome, of which only 35 books have survived. Livy was born in 64 or 59 BC in Padua, which was then the wealthiest city in Northern Italy and part of the province of Cisalpine Gaul.

3. It is home to a must-see fresco cycle.

Padua is a UNESCO World Heritage site for its series of fourteenth-century fresco cycles painted between 1302 and 1397, still in situ and spread over eight buildings: "Padua supplied a new way of both seeing and depicting the world, heralding the advent of Renaissance perspective. The innovations mark a new era in the history of art, producing an irreversible change in direction."¹

If you're curious about the classical tradition, these incredible frescoes will change your perspective on the afterlife of antiquity in Christian art (both exoteric and esoteric…).

4. Padua was an early hub for the study of Classics.

Did you know that Padua was the cultural and intellectual centre of 'humanism'? I.e. the revival and spread of classical learning that was eventually formalised in the Veneto region through specialised 'humanist' schools, such as that run by Guarino Veronese. It is also home to the second-oldest university in Europe where Elena Cornaro Piscopia (one of our Women Latinists) was the first² woman to receive a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Italy, after starting her classical education early in life.

5. If you’re interested in ancient medicine, the Zodiac and methods of measuring time: Padua is the place for you!

Astrology is not commonly regarded as a 'science' today, but when and why did that change? You'll never look at science in the same way again after studying in Padua.

From pervasive astrological symbols in art & architecture to the first permanent anatomical theatre, Padua blurs the lines between science and religion and provides a perfect base to explore aspects of classical thought (like time, space, healing, botany and medicine) not commonly featured on school and university curricula today.


Interested in the links between Classics & Padua? Follow us on Instagram @forte_academy or sign up to a Waitlist to find out when you can join us to study Classics Abroad in Padua in 2023.


¹ UNESCO World Heritage Criterion (ii):

² In 1678.


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