Pavia is a city located in the Northern Italian region of Lombardy in the province of Pavia. The city was the capital of the Kingdom of the Lombards between 568 and 774 AD, which is when it first gained its political importance. The University of Pavia, founded during the middle ages is also located in the city and still a prominent center of learning.
The province of Pavia is known for its fertile land and is an important producer of several agricultural products like rice, cereals, wines and various other dairy products. Pavia is basically a small and a peaceful town that has managed to maintain its peaceful atmosphere even with few industries located around the town.
Getting to Pavia
The easiest way to reach Pavia is by train since the city is connected to many destinations in Lombardy through the regional train line. Most cities in Lombardy have direct trains to Pavia a few times every day and tickets are not very expensive either. Another option is to travel by bus. Buses are also quite regular and run a few times a day between Pavia and the other cities in the province. However, the buses coming in from outside the province take very long and are uncomfortable. Driving down to Pavia is also a good option if you rent a car.
Moving Around the City
Pavia is a very small city and quite compact in size too. Apart from that the town is very peaceful and is not yet congested with traffic so it is easy and enjoyable to walk around the town. The streets here are cobble stoned and are lined with shady trees so even in summers walking around is not a problem. Another option is to use the public buses which are quite regular and not very expensive either. Taxis are available too but they need to be booked in advance since they are not easily available in all parts of the town.
Attractions in Pavia
The Certosa is a monastery and is known to be the most important landmark of the city. The monastery was originally built in the 13th century and has been quite well preserved. It is located 8 Km from the city and can be reached by car or by buses.
Duomo of Pavia
The Duomo or the cathedral of Pavia is quite an impressive sight. The construction of the cathedral first began in 1488 but it was only completely constructed by the end of 1898. The massive dome that stands on top of the cathedral is the third largest in terms of size in Italy.
Church of San Michele Maggiore
The church of San Michele Maggiore is built in the Lombard-Romanesque style and is an important church in Lombardy for its architecture. The church was destroyed in 1004 and was then reconstructed in the 11th century and is known for its use of sandstone which gives it a unique look.
Basilica of San Pietro in Ciel d'Oro
The basilica was originally built in the 6th century and then reconstructed in the 12th century. Several important saints and the Lombard King Liutprand have been buried here. The most noteworthy aspect of the basilica is the arch which was built in the 13th century and brick work has been extensively used in its façade.
Castello Visconteo is a huge fortified castle built in the 14th century. The castle was used as a private residence in the past centuries. The castle is now used as a museum; the civic museum is located here. The Park surrounding the castle is a popular park for kids.
University of Pavia
The University of Pavia is one of the oldest universities in Europe established in 1361. According to several manuscripts, a rhetoric school did exist here since 825 AD which makes it the oldest in Europe of its kind. The architecture of the university itself is worth admiring. The sprawling main complex is spread out over twelve courts and the architecture shifts from baroque to neo-classic.
The medieval towers of the city are still standing intact at quite a lot of locations. In several places the towers have already collapsed, however, what remains of the towers today are worth visiting. These towers dominate the skyline of Pavia and are quite imposing in size.
Stay and Accommodation
Pavia is a very small and peaceful town so there aren't many luxurious hotels in the city. The hotels here are comfortable and charming and are generally inexpensive too. There are also a few Bed & Breakfasts in the city which are quite good options for the budget conscious visitors. Some good hotels to try in the city are Hotel Pavia, Residenza Pavia, Hotel Aurora, Hotel Alberghi, Hotel Albergo and several others. Many of the old villas and mansions have also been transformed into small charming hotels which are mostly family run and are quite inexpensive.
Eating in Pavia
Pavia does have a few options in terms of restaurants. The restaurants in the city mostly serve Italian staples and also regional Lombardy dishes. There are a few fast food joints and restaurants serving international cuisines but its best not to try them. The delis and cafes here serve some good light snacks, salads, pastas and paninis. There are also quite a lot of good pizzerias and dessert shops selling traditional desserts and pastries which are local to Pavia and are definitely worth trying out. There are a few pubs here where you might get some good cocktails; however, wines are the best option.
Shopping in Pavia
Shopping in Pavia is mostly restricted to the shopping streets here in the city. There aren't many large shopping complexes in the city. The locals generally do their shopping from the ancient markets in the old city and the open markets that are held here every week. Pavia is well known for its dairy products so there are quite a lot of good local cheeses which can be bought. The city is also known for its vineyards located around the city so you would be able to find some good locally made wines.