Home to an ancient university, the town of Pavia dates back to pre-Roman times when it was known as Ticinum.
Our train-happy family readily jumped onto a train at Milan Centrale to spend a day at Pavia. A day of discovering piazzas, a university, and beautiful churches.
Our walk began from the train station at Pavia. We ambled along the streets that led to Piazza della Vittoria and the quiet Piazza del Duomo. It was summer and a sense of emptiness prevailed. Residents and students had probably left for the seaside, as many Italians do during the hot season. A few cyclists rode through the town, pausing to gaze at the beautiful landmarks.
At Piazza del Duomo, we found a cool spot in the shade, ideal for a leisurely lunch. Later, I was even ready for a siesta, but the boys were eager to continue exploring the town, and pulled me out of my comfortable seat.
As the sun shone bright and hot, we resumed our walk and headed toward the river Ticino. And the lovely Ponte Coperto (covered bridge) provided a much-needed respite from the heat. Along the sandy patches on the river bank, people seemed to be enjoying the sunshine (of course, they had the option of diving into the cool water when the heat got unbearable).
Onward to the basilica of San Michele Maggiore, a striking sandstone structure from the 12th century. After a brief halt at the church, we decided to pursue academic interests, and set off to explore the campus of the renowned University of Pavia.
Founded in 1361, the University of Pavia boasts of many distinguished alumni and scientists, including Alessandro Volta and Camillo Golgi. The campus was quiet owing to the holidays, and, as we walked around, it was a humbling experience to learn about the numerous Nobel Prize winners associated with the university. Three medieval towers rise high in Piazza Leonardo da Vinci, symbols of an era gone by, reminders of the rich history of Pavia.
On our way back to the station, we made plans to return to Pavia (to visit the grand Certosa di Pavia).
More ideas for day trips from Milan:
Ferrari Museum at Modena: http://funderfulworld.com/thetravelbug/men-machines-movies-maranello-at-the-ferrari-museum/