Police moved in to evacuate Piazza dei Signori after a plastic cylinder was spotted tied to the church with wire. Market stall owners were evacuated, while parishioners left the San Clemente church through a side door as bomb disposal experts got to work.
The cylinder was swiftly defused with a bang, as rumours began to circulate that it was filled with bolts and gunpowder, Il Mattino di Padova reported.
Mayor Massimo Bitonci arrived at the scene and promised hundreds of CCTV cameras would be installed across the city, “with particular attention given to sensitive sites”.
On closer inspection, however, a love note was found inside. “In this corner of Piazza dei Signori we had our first kiss. Alice and Alberto,” read the romantic message.
A little bell with a red bow and a copper pendant were also found inside the cylinder.
Rather than being a bomb, the container was a “Love Box” from Geocaching, a treasure hunt network through which people can track items left by participants around the world.
There are currently 2.5 million geocaches globally which users can find with a smartphone app, of which a number are registered in Italy.