In the heart of the ancient Roman “Ticinum”
The visit to the historic-artistic areas in the centre of Pavia stretches along the network of alleys that follow the ancient settlement of the Roman “Ticinum” and its regular pattern of roads.
The itinerary can start from one of Pavia symbols, the 14th century Visconti Castle, a fortified noble residence, which since 1950 has housed Musei Civici. Near the Castle there is the Romanesque basilica (12th century) of S. Pietro in Ciel d’Oro, where the Arca di S.Agostino and the tomb of the philosopher and writer Severino Boezio are preserved.
Crossing Viale Matteotti, continue on Strada Nuova, the cardo maximus of the Roman village. Today it is one of the main roads of Pavia shopping life.
If you come from Piazza Castello, on the right you can see the façade of Teatro Fraschini and shortly after that, on the opposite side of the road, there is the complex of buildings and courtyards of the University, linked through corridors and porticoes. The original core of the building dates to 1485 (but in 1361, the institution had already obtained the title of “studioum generale”). In the nearby Piazza Leonardo da Vinci there are three of the five medieval towers in Pavia (in the fresco called “Veduta di Pavia” of 1522, preserved in the counter-façade of the church of S. Teodoro, one can count about 30 towers, but some ancient texts even mention 100 towers) and the crypt of S. Eusebio (11th century).
Once back at the main entrance of the University, walking along Via Roma, you reach Piazza del Carmine, where you can see the façade of the 15th century Palazzo Langosco-Orlandi (restructured in the 19th century) and the church of S. Maria del Carmine, an example of Lombardo-Gothic architecture in red bricks.
Around the Carmine there are Palazzo and Stabilimento di Belle Arti Malaspina (a Neoclassical architecture), the small medieval church of S. Giovanni Domnarum and the 18th century church of SS. Gervasio and Protasio (built on a pre-existing paleochristian cathedral, the first in Pavia, built on the wish of the bishop and patron saint of the city S. Siro in the 4th century; its architectural remains are inside the building we can see today).
Continue walking in Via XX Settembre (to the rear of Chiesa del Carmine) and on in Corso Cavour, until you reach Piazza della Vittoria overlooked by the Broletto, an ancient Commune building, built in different stages from the 10th century onwards. Near Piazza della Vittoria there is the Duomo, overlooking the square bearing the same name, where you can also see the statue of Regisole, the Vescovado (built at the end of the 16th century), and the remains of Torre Civica (dating back to the 9th century, used for religious and secular purposes) which collapsed on March 17th 1989 for a structural failure.
If you walk on in Via Teodolinda and Via Cossa, you reach the church of S. Teodoro (end of the 12th century – beginning of the 13th century). Proceed on Vicolo Terenzio till you reach Porta Calcinara, one of the two gateways to the city in the 12-century defensive walls. Continue on foot on Lungoticino Visconti to see Casa degli Eustachi (in a side alley, built at the beginning of the 15th century) and Ponte Coperto, another symbol of Pavia. Walk on Lungoticino Sforza to reach Porta Nuova – 12th century – recently restored. Up in Via Perelli you shall see Piazza Borromeo overlooked by Collegio Borromeo (16th century), S.ta Margherita hospital (the façade dates back to the 15th century) and an 18th century house with the remains of a Romanesque tower. Close to Collegio Borromeo there are the church of S. Luca (late 16th century) and the Romanesque church of SS. Primo and Feliciano (recently restored, with 18th century interiors).
Walk on in Corso Garibaldi towards Strada Nuova, and you will reach Basilica S. Michele (the most important of Pavia, in a Romanesque style) overlooking the square bearing the same name. Continue on Via S. Michele and Via Cavallotti, turn right into Corso Mazzini to reach Piazza Municipio, where you will see the 18th century Palazzo Mezzabarba (if you enter Via Scopoli, you shall find the Botanic Garden). Go back to Corso Mazzini and turn right into Via Sacchi to see the church of S.ta Maria di Canepanova (16th century) and the church of S. Francesco d’Assisi. The square to the rear of Piazza Ghislieri is overlooked by Collegio Ghislieri, the deconsecrated church of S. Francesco da Paola (17th century, which now hosts conferences and musical concerts, whereas the convent annexed to the main building hosts Civico Istituto Musica Franco Vittadini) and the first University college in Pavia, Castiglioni-Brugnatelli, built in 1429.
Besides the monumental resources described in this itinerary, you can also see, often from the outside, several palaces and residences (for example Palazzo Olevano, Palazzo Bottigella, Palazzo Bellisomi-Vistarino) and other churches in Pavia (S. Lanfranco, SS. Salvatore – or S. Mauro -, S.ta Maria in Betlem, S. Lazzaro, S.ta Maria alle Cacce).
About 10 km from Pavia, towards Milan, there is the magnificent monument called Certosa.