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Padua stands on the Bacchiglione River, 40 km west of Venice and 29 km southeast of Vicenza. The Brenta River, which once ran through the city, still touches the northern districts. Its agricultural setting is the Pianura Veneta, the "Venetian plain," To the city's south west lies the Euganaean Hills, praised by Lucan and Martial, Petrarch, Ugo Foscolo, and Shelley.
The city is picturesque, with a dense network of arcaded streets opening into large communal piazze, and many bridges crossing the various branches of the Bacchiglione, which once surrounded the ancient walls like a moat.
Padua is the setting for most of the action in Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew.