I’ve already written a post about the Caffé Pedrocchi. That post explained its story and how the ground floor is set. But the Café has also a first floor, called piano nobile, noble floor. There you can visit the Pedrocchi Café Museum.
You can see the beautiful historic rooms (all decorated with a different style), that once hosted parties, meetings and shows for the aristocracy or famous personalities, and the adjacent Museum of the Risorgimento (the period leading to unification of Italy) and the Contemporary Age. Some of the historic rooms are still available for conventions, corporate meetings, business lunches and weddings.
You can reach Pedrocchi Café Museum from Piazzetta Cappellato Pedrocchi (door under the right side loggia), after climbing the so called Stairs of Honour, in Italian Scalone d’Onore (if you look up you will see a stucco decoration depicting seven Bacchae with musical instruments).
Pedrocchi Café Museum – historic rooms
In the first room, called Etruscan (inspired by Greek vase painting) there’s a little and a bit messy Ticket Office. Immediately after you enter the Greek octagonal room, with a fresco depicting a Lesson by Plato to his disciples. Then there is the Roman room, with four paintings depicting different views of Rome.
Sadly, the very day in which I decided to go and visit, the biggest and more beautiful room of all was booked for a convention and I couldn’t see it (fortunately I have seen it on other occasions). I have been advised in advance and I paid the reduced ticket. Since the majority of the guests wasn’t there yet, in the end I managed to take a look to the room anyway.
This room is the ballroom dedicated to the opera composer Gioacchino Rossini (as written on the plaque “splendour and strength of Italian bel canto”). That’s the biggest room, all white and golden, decorated with 1.400 bees scattered along the walls. Beyond the ballroom, there’s the Egyptian room (also not open that day).
I went directly to the Ercolana room (decorated with the Feasts of goddess Diana) and the Renaissance room (with walls of blue cloth). Finally, the Gothic room is decorated with the emblems of the noble families of Padua.
Pedrocchi Café Museum – Museum of the Risorgimento and the Contemporary Age
This little Museum documents facts and protagonists from the fall of the Venetian Republic (1797) to the promulgation of the Italian Constitution (1948).
The things of the Pedrocchi Café Museum which impressed me the most were those related to the years of World War II.
1. Giorgio Perlasca story
First of all, I saw a touching note written by someone to Giorgio Perlasca, an extraordinary man who lived and died in Padua. During the Second World War, he pretended to be the Spanish Consul in Budapest, in order to save the lives of over 5.000 Hungarian Jews. Back in Padua after the war, he returned to his former life without telling his story to anyone. Only in 1987 (more than 40 years later) some Hungarian Jewish women finally tracked him down to thank him, and so the story came out. He became then a Righteous among the Nations. The note, handwritten, says:
“YOU saved two members of my family an my vanishing belief in the human race”.
Here, now I’m weepy! I’m so emotional!
2. The Testament of Sebasiano Giacomelli
Another moving thing for me was reading the stories of the Resistance to Fascism and Nazism. The Paduan Resistance systematically attacked the Nazi and Fascists units, sabotaging military transports, performing acts of urban warfare. This led to the killing and deportation of anti-fascists and partisans between 1944 and 1945.
Especially touching was the Testament of the anti-fascist lawyer Sebastiano Giacomelli. From the prison cell in which he was kept he wrote a letter to his family on February 13 1945. Here are some fragments:
“My dear Maria, my dearest children, it seems that I must soon leave for a concentration camp. I’m calm, I look at the future with confidence. […] To those who have offended I ask forgiveness, and I forgive those who offended me. I forgive especially those who put me in the current miserable condition. My whole life is testimony of my love for my Country”.
And again, weepy! I told you, I’m too emotional!
3. The photo of the bombings
To fight off this occupation, British and Americans forces subjected the city to many bombings. As a result they hit the rail road, many civilian houses (with over 900 deaths) and five monumental churches: St. Benedict, Capuchins, Carmine, the Cathedral and the Eremitani (damaging the Renaissance frescoes of Mantegna). Seeing the pictures taken after the bombing was a shock to me.
For the first time I saw the photos of my neighbourhood bombed church (Carmine), with the furnishings brought to safety outside in the square. Next to these photos there was a poster saying: “The liberators have passed. The frescoes by Mantegna in the Eremitani church in Padua as they were (photos of the frescoes before the bombing) and as they are (photo of a man sitting on the ground among the rubble of the church) now!” So sad, so touching.
In conclusion, I was happy to visit it, even if it was quite moving for me. The tour took me 1 hour and a half, but only because I read all the panels carefully. For those who want to see only the historic rooms (skipping the Museum) half an hour would be more than enough. When you exit the Pedrocchi Café Museum, you have to take the elevator to go down. So I gather that (but you should ask to the staff) you can also take the elevator to go up if you have walking problems.
- Beautiful historic rooms, even if without furnishing
- Visit useful to understand the importance of this Café for Padua
- Information panels in Italian and English (in the historic rooms)
- Some touching and important historical evidences
- No English translations in the Museum
- Closure of some rooms during events
Piazzetta Cappellato Pedrocchi – Padua
Full Price 4€ – Reduced 2,5€
Museum Opening hours
From Tuesday to Sunday
9.30 am – 12.30 pm/ 3.30 – 6 pm
Closed: 1st Jan, 1st May, 25 and 26 Dec and every Monday (except holidays)