Padua: from Titus Livius to Gio Ponti

Those who’ve never sipped a spritz at sunset in Piazza delle Erbe don’t know Italy.

We’re in Padua, the university city where Galileo Galilei, the father of modern science, lived and studied freely (unlike Florence!). It’s also the city of the great Latin historian Titus Livius, or Livy.

His presence in the city is renowned, but nowhere so much as in the Palazzo Liviano, the home of the Faculty of Literature and Philosophy designed by Gio Ponti in 1934, and where I used to spend time with my friends and colleagues Filippo Lotti, Francesco Morroni and Amedeo Porro.

In the atrium, we posed in front of the monumental statue of Livy, sculpted by Arturo Martini in 1942 from a single block of Carrara marble! As you can see, surrounding us are frescoes by Massimo Campigli, who in 1939 beat Oppi, Sironi and Cadorin in a competition: the frescoes portray archaeology as a source of Italian culture.

Once outside, a short walk from there, six hundred years earlier Giusto de’ Menabuoi frescoed the Cathedral’s Baptistery. It’s one of the great Italian 14th-century masterpieces. How many know of him? What a wonderful city!

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