Torre della Specola © Dave Collier
Padua is often tragically overlooked due to its close proximity to Venice. The fabulous architecture of the old town, dating back as far as 1,000 AD, is a magnificent backdrop for its deep wealth of culture. The main attraction is the cathedral dedicated to St Anthony, its high altar is decorated with bronzes by Donatello, who is also responsible for the proud equestrian statue (il Gattamelata) in the Piazza del Santo. Padua also has picturesque canals, a number of markets and many impressive churches filled with beautiful frescoes. It also boasts Europe's oldest botanical garden, established in 1545, and a fun and festive nightlife, thanks to its youthful university population.