Like the rest of the Veneto, Padova was ruled by Venice from the 15th century until Napoleon came — at about 1800. Four hundred years ago, the great scientist Galileo — notorious for disagreeing with the Church’s views on science — enjoyed that academic freedom. With 60,000 students, Padova’s university is always lively, and you’re likely to stumble onto some kind of spirited school event. The main drag leads to one of the most important pilgrimage churches in all of Europe: the Basilica of St. Anthony. For nearly 800 years pilgrims have flocked here to venerate the tomb of St. Anthony of Padova.