Overlooking the Piazza della Frutta is the medieval town hall, Palazzo della Ragione.
The Palazzo della Ragione separates Piazza delle Erbe from Piazza della Frutta, the piazza which holds the daily fruit and vegetable market.
This massive building was built with one large roof over the entire building, which makes it the biggest roof in Europe that is not supported by columns. It is an Architectural wonder. The Palazzo was built in 1218 and enlarged in 1306. Until 1797 it was used as city council’s assembly hall and palace of justice.
This palazzo is, like the entire city, a symbol of the history, of the power, “Ragione” means reason in Italian, and one can imagine that locals several centuries back used this space to organize their town and settle disputes.
On the ground floor, is the Centro Commerciale Il Sotto Salone which has been in operation for nearly eight hundred years, and is the oldest commercial centre still in operation. Here you will find many various shops, including delis and artisan shops, where you can find many of the local specialties. You can buy fresh hand-made pasta, fresh fish from the fish market, a selection of specialty cheeses, selection of home-made sausages, high quality meats, a good selection of Prosciutto, and specialty meats from an equine butcher, coffee from a coffee market plus more. Today there are more than fifty small shops, offering quality food products, wine bars, bars and gift shops.
The upper floor, called Il Salone is a vast hall, one of the largest medieval halls of the world. The frescoes decorating this grand hall can overwhelm you. The ticket office provides a description of the decorations to guide the visit, but it is the overall massive scale of the space that leaves a lasting impression
This is one of the many squares in Padova but this one is stunning. The architecture is incredible and well worth doing some research before visiting to understand its history.
There are plenty of cafes around to sit and admire the architecture and the markets and once again to watch the world go by.