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Padova Looking Ahead and Beyond

From Galileo Galilei to the more recent missions in space, the history of Padua is studded with the names of great men and women who were precursors and pioneers in the areas of science, music, engineering and much more.

These are the facts underlying the slogan “Padova Looking Ahead & Beyond” displayed on posters, both in our city and elsewhere, to show how Padua has encouraged and still encourages ordinary people to do extraordinary things.

Below we have provided just a few examples of great people who lived in Padua and the great feats achieved here.



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Elena Lucrezia Cornaro

Elena Lucrezia Cornaro (Venice, 5 June 1646 – Padua 26 July 1684) was an Italian scholar who graduated in Philosophy at the University of Padua. She is known worldwide for being the first woman to be awarded a degree from a University.

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002_file batch.jpgGalileo Galilei

For 18 years he taught at the University of Padua: here, in the city of St. Anthony, he started conducting the observations that led him to write the Dialogue concerning the Two Chief World Systems.Galileo Galilei (Pisa, 15 February 1564 – Arcetri, 8 January 1642) was an Italian physicist, astronomer and mathematician, and is generally considered the father of modern science.

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The Botanical Garden

Padua’s Botanical Garden was founded in 1545 and is the world's oldest academic botanical garden still in its original location. Although originally founded in 1544, the Botanical Garden of Pisa cannot boast this title, as it has only occupied its current location since 1591. The new wing of Padua’s Botanical Garden, known as the Biodiversity Garden, opened in 2014.

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Sotto il Salone

The unquestionable historical, artistic, cultural and social importance of the Palazzo della Ragione, the city’s medieval Town Hall and Courts of Justice, is surpassed only by its ability to arouse the imagination of its beholders, for its impressive size and its ample hall surmounted by what is considered the largest roof unsupported by columns in Europe. It is a work of architectural genius and is often referred to as "Padua’s monument of monuments" or, quite simply, "The monument of Padua ".

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Enrico Bernardi 

(Verona, 20 May 1841 – Turin, 21 February 1919)

In 1882 he successfully applied for an Industrial Patent for the first prototype of a petrol combustion engine which he had designed and constructed (Patent n. 14.460), beating the Germans Benz and Daimler by a few months. In 1880 and 1884 he perfected two prototypes for the application of the combustion engine to equipment of everyday use.

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Click here to find out more. Scheduled to launch in April 2018, this joint mission of the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Japan Aerospace eXploration Agency (JAXA) is the core of the ESA’s programme for the exploration of Mercury. It is named after Giuseppe (Bepi) Colombo (1920–1984), scientist, mathematician and engineer at the University of Padua who first implemented the interplanetary gravity-assist manoeuvre in the 1974 Mariner 10 mission.





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Stefano Polato

(Padua, 1983) This young Paduan is Samantha Cristoforetti’s official chef. As such, he devised the bonus food for the Futura space mission.

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Speziali– the Medieval apothecaries

In her book Il giro di Padova e dintorni in 501 luoghi, Laura Orgiante states that Padua hosts the first apothecary ever reported in history: it is located on the crossroads leading to St. Anthony’s Basilica and is mentioned in a document dated 1261. It also appears that the first woman apothecary worked here, as a woman is reported to have been enrolled as speciale (apothecary in the Medieval days) in the guild of apothecaries in a list dated 1380.

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Anatomical Theatre

The Anatomical Theatre was completed in 1595 and is the first example worldwide of a permanent facility where anatomy was taught by dissecting corpses. Its shape recalls that of the Roman amphitheatre. The corpses to be dissected were delivered to the University by the judiciary: indeed, they very often, although not always, belonged to criminals who had been executed.

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The first beating heart cardiac valve replacement worldwide was conducted on a 78 year-old patient by a cardio-surgery team of Padua Hospital led by Dr. Gino Gerosa and lasted four hours. It was an unprecedented event and was completed successfully.

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Giovanni Battista Belzoni

Born in Padua in 1778, Belzoni was a pioneer archaeologist of Egyptian antiquities and the author of the first successful archaeology book. In 1821, he organised the first Egyptology Exhibition in history, also featuring a particularly successful catalogue, in Piccadilly where he reconstructed even the slightest details of the tomb of Sethi I that he had discovered. One of his best-known expeditions led him to discover the entrance to the pyramid of Khafre, which still bears the inscription «Discovered by G. Belzoni. 2 mar. 1818»

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Bartolomeo Cristofori


(Padua, 1655 - Florence, 1731) Cristofori was a lute and harpsichord maker in Padua: the innovations and the improvements he made to the harpsichord, replacing the plectrum (held on jacks to pluck the strings) with hammers, led to the invention of the piano, enabling different gradations of tone.

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This is just a taste of Padua’s ‘’firsts’! 

Please write to us at scopripadova@pd-promex.it to help us find people, events and curious facts of today and of the past that highlight Padua’s ability to look ahead and beyond.






last modified Jul 19, 2016