A Guide to Pavia: A beautiful university city next to Milan

Pavia, located in the Italian region of Lombardy is a popular pitstop for travelers visiting Milan, situated only 40 km away.

Home to one of the most ancient universities in the world and to over 20 000 students, Pavia is a vibrant city with centuries of history but nonetheless young at heart.

Check out this guide to Pavia that will help you make the most of your visit and have a great time.

Getting to Pavia

By Plane: the nearest airports are Milano Malpensa and Linate Airport.

By Train: Pavia is well connected with all the main cities nearby such as Milan, Turin or Bergamo.

By Car: you can reach Pavia by car and it’s best to use the highway.

From Milan – 45 km
From Turin – 155 km
From Bergamo – 110 km
From Genova – 115 km

Getting Around Pavia

It’s best to discover Pavia on foot so make sure to wear really comfy shoes.

The main points of interest are all located within a walking distance from each other and it’s a fun experience to have a stroll along those medieval alleys which at times make you feel as if you have stepped through a time machine.

Things To See in Pavia


The Ponte Coperto

Start discovering the city from the old bridge – Pavia’s most famous landmark.

Originally built in 1354, it was bombed and destroyed during the Second World War.

What we see today is the reconstruction, carried out in 1951, with some variations compared to the original.

The new bridge was rebuilt about fifteen meters further downstream and is a little larger compared to the ancient one in order to facilitate traffic.

The new structure is still humpback, like the medieval one, has a hundred granite columns that support the roof and still has the votive chapel.


The Visconti Castle

The Visconti Castle was built in 1360 for the Visconti family – one of the most influential Italian dynasties of the Middle Ages.

When you visit the castle pay attention to the beautiful windows, which are still those from the Medieval period while the upper part of the Ghibelline battlements has been restructured.

With the death of the last Sforza, the splendid civic and military traditions of the Castle disappeared, and the superb building began to decline rapidly.

Frescos, pottery, furniture and weapons gathered over the years were dispersed and the Castle became a vast barrack for the Spanish soldiers.

The plunder of Napoleon’s soldiers removed the last traces of its antique beauty.

Since 1950 the Visconti Castle houses the complex of the Civic Museums.


Pavia Cathedral

Pavia Cathedral is the main church of the city and it dates back to the 15th century.

Its magnificent octagonal dome is among the largest in Italy for height and weight.

Famous architects who worked on this Cathedral include Cristoforo Rocchi, Giovanni Antonio Amadeo, Pellegrino Tibaldi, Gian Giacomo Dolcebuono and Gianpietrino Rizzi.

Also Leonardo da Vinci himself was involved in the creation of this church.


Other Churches

Pavia Cathedral isn’t the only church in the city worth visiting.

In fact, you could spend an entire day just discovering all the beautiful churches in Pavia, learning about their history and admiring their architecture.

Here is a list of churches in Pavia:

  • The Basilica of San Michele Maggiore – a masterpiece church from the 12th century
  • San Pietro in Ciel d’Oro – the Romanesque church from the 12th century
  • San Teodoro Basilica – dates back to the 12th century and houses cycles of frescoes representing the stories of Saint Agnes and Saint Theodore and two important frescoes attributed to Bernardino Lanzani with views of Pavia from the 16th century
  • Santa Maria del Carmine Church – built in 1461 in Gothic style
  • San Francesco Church – its construction began in 1228 and ended in 1298 and it has three naves

The Certosa di Pavia

Certosa di Pavia is the only attraction you can’t reach on foot, you will need a quick train ride to get there but the place is definitely worth the trouble.

The Certosa di Pavia is a monastery built in the 14th and 15th century and is an excellent example of the Lombard art.

The façade of the church presents a rich range of decorations, with more than 70 sculptures.

The interior with a Latin cross plan and three naves, has a majestic dome and seventeen altars, all decorated with incredible paintings.

The choir of the church is the part that preserves most of the treasures of painting, sculpture and inlay.

The architecture of the entire place is just breathtaking and visiting the Certosa will be the most pleasant and fun art lesson you’ve ever taken.

As you can see Pavia is a city which offers many fantastic attractions and I recommend adding it to your travel bucket list.

About guest author Barbara:

Barbara is the founder of Crab In The Air, a travel blog where she shares her passion for traveling. She loves writing about all the hotels visited, the wonderful cities explored and the unique people met along the way.

Written by

Travel blogger and tourism graduate from Bulgaria, working in the field of Digital Marketing and PR for travel brands.

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