In this chapter we discuss one of the most spectacular works of the Veneto region, the only one of its kind, the Prato della Valle.
Prato della Valle or Campo di Marte, as it was called, is located south of Padua and is one of the largest squares in Europe with its 88.620 square meters. It was conceived in 1775 when the administrator of the Serenissima, Andrea Memmo, decided to create a large space suitable for hosting fairs, markets and religious festivals. The project, however, belongs to Domenico Cerato, who designed an ovoid garden surrounded by a canal and decorated with 78 statues, which were intended to portray the most illustrious citizens. The realization of the statues was fundamental for the realization of the area, both for the decorative aspect and for the financial one.
In fact, each piece was paid by each individual citizen, paying a sum ranging from 135 to 150 sequins, in order to satisfy the cost of the statue and the general works of the Prato. During the Roman and early Middle Ages, the entire area of Campo di Marte or Campo Marzio, was used for military activities and meetings, a few centuries later the name of the square changed again to Pratum, which was about to indicate a large space for the sale of goods and livestock, often not paved, but covered with grass. Only in the 12th century did the term Pratum Vallis appear for the first time. The layout of the square is inspired by the great Venetian tradition of the patrician garden, which for the first time is used for common use, and distracted from private use, following the neoclassical concepts, intended for the enhancement of the environment and as an urban solution.
Today Prato della Valle is a very popular place among the Paduans, it is used by young people to study, to take walks and to practice sports. In the long summer evenings there is no shortage of entertainment with music and small improvised performances, instead outside the island, real professional skating competitions are held. On Saturday, moreover, you cannot miss the traditional market with over 160 banks and, on the third Sunday of the month, it is the turn of the antiques market, dedicated to lovers of furniture and collectibles.