Pavia – ancient and historic city where one wanders the cobbled streets enjoying the prettiness of its retained past.

Duomo square 1

Pavia’s Duomo which has the 3rd largest dome in Italy

Pavia wall

Pavia courtyard

It was curious. On Journey One through France, Spain and Portugal I was drawn again and again onto St James’ Way – Le Chemin de Saint Jacques de Compostelle.  Granted, there are many routes, but even so I kept finding myself on a main one without ever intending to. It seemed meant to be because it became a journey of self-discovery and personal growth, which is exactly what travelling on the path should lead to.

In Pavia there was an echo. I learned that I had been on the Via Francigena all the way from Aosta, in fact when I had crossed the still intact Roman bridge of stone there and strolled a little way I had been walking on it.

Via Francigena 1

The Via Francigina is the ancient pilgrims’ route from Canterbury Cathedral to St Peter’s in Rome. Pavia was a key point on the way as the path split there and pilgrims could either continue to Rome or turn to follow St James’ Way to Santiago de Compostella.   In fact, I learned that the “Agriturismo” farmhouse I had chosen in the countryside was in an area called Santo Spirito where a number of old pilgrims’ hostels have been discovered. My landlady understood the paths may have merged right there, hence the name.

So does this mean that this too will be a voyage of learning and self-development? I think the signs are that it will be.

Later, on the road to Cremona, I happened to pull my car over to take a break, looked up and found I had stopped where the Via Francigena crossed my road, so I walked it peaceably for a short while.

Via Francigena 2 - Copy

In Pavia the pilgrims would have prayed in the Cathedral and churches, St Pietro in Ciel D’Oro (St Peter in the Golden Sky – how beautiful!) being particularly important as it was said to contain the relics of St Augustine. The casket is an intricate work of art. This church was revered by Dante Alighieri and mentioned in his Divine Comedy.

Saints tomb

St Augustine’s monument

In Pavia, one of Italy’s most beautiful medieval cities, I was struck, not for the first time, by the well-known curse of The White Van. It has happened to you, I am sure. You arrive at a scenic monument all ready to record it for posterity and there is The Dreaded White Van parked right in front. Is it a fiendish conspiracy of secret tourist-loathers? And why is it always a White Van?

The Infamous White Van in front of St Pietro in Ciel D’Oro,

Santa Maria del Carmine, and in Piazza Vittoria.

They did not ruin things for me though. I often passed the places again, and then no vehicles were allowed in the two most photogenic spots I visited in Pavia. The first was the old University of Pavia founded in 1361 where I meandered through the yellow quadrangles admiring the light, the statues and the plaques. It had a happy atmosphere and several students were celebrating their exam success by wearing lush green laurels on their heads – an age-old tradition still alive here.

The second was the remarkable 14th century Certosa di Pavia church and working monastery, the marble façade of which is breath-taking in its opulence and grandiosity.   Inside there are delicate, pale frescoes by Italian masters and two cloisters, one open and one closed – where the monks had charming little roofs on their terracotta-decorated cells.

No white Vans in the photographs below! Next stop Cremona. Do you know what it is famous for? You will soon find out…..

– + –

Pavia university towers

Pavia University Entrance

University 2

Yellow quadrangle in the sun

Pavia university 1

Pavia university plaque

Pavia bikes

Clock close 1


Certosa di Pavia

The elaborate Certosa di Pavia

Certosa inside 1

Inside the Certosa di Pavia

Certosa first cloister

The first cloisters at La Certosa

Certosa monks cloisters

The cells of the Cistercian monks in the second, closed cloisters

Certosa angel

And to end : A Certosa di Pavia Angel


3 Responses to “THE PATH TO PAVIA”
  1. Bonnie says:

    Thank you. I feel like I am walking beside you along each path and enjoying the sites and people with you each time you post.

  2. J says:

    Those pilgrims! They get everywhere! I love following your journey, do keep up your journal. Best wishes.

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