There is much to see in this Region of Italy. When some think of Veneto, they think of Venice and the flat lands that surround that city. But there is much more. Almost a third of the Region is mountains. The highest in the Dolomites is the Marmolada-massift at 3,342 meters.
The next chunk, just over 50% of the Region, is the Po Valley. It runs from the mountains to the Adriatic Sea. The Euganean Hills, Berici Hills, Colli Asolani and Montello break up the flat lands of the Po. The Region extends to the eastern shore of the largest lake in Italy, Lake Garda. There is much to see in this Region.
One of the primary sites is Venice, however, the architecture and history of the other towns and cities should not be missed.
Located about 40 km from Venice, this is a beautiful old walled town that we visited on one of our first trips into the Veneto Region. It is located in the foothills of the Dolomite mountains it is very lush with lots of forests. I remember the road to the town was very scenic.
We stayed at the Hotel Duce. We learned a lot about travelling. Like when you ask to see the room, look out the window to see if you over over something like the entrance to a restaurant! We remember the evening was not-stop noise as guests left the restaurant.
Our first trip was back in 1994 and at that time we remember driving right into the town, up to the square opposite the hotel. It was great. Years later when we returned we found that cars were no longer allowed into the historic centre. Visitors would park outside the town centre. This is actually a good idea as the streets are very narrow and the cars just ruin the ambiance of the town.
Piazza Garibaldi is the centre of the town and it has a 16th Century fountain. It is an easy city to explore. The cathedral is impressive. Medieval, but updated in the 18th Century, it was built on the site of the original Roman baths. It looks plain, but has impressive artwork. There is also part of the ancient roman acquaduct that can be seen in the Piazza Angelo Brugnoli.
Outside the town is the Villa Barbaro which is a very impressive 16th Century villa that has frescoes and an interesting decor.
Bassano del Grappa
Old city, grand buildings and a covered bridge that has been re-built many times. Great colour tones to the buildings of Bassano, this is a nice town to visit. Of course this town is also famous for the Italian pen company - Montegrappa.
Having visited Bassano del Grappa a number of years ago, we returned here in 2009 for a tour of the Montegrappa factory and a visit to the town.
The history of this town has been tied to the World Wars. Infact, it was originally called Bassano Veneto but after thousands of soldiers lost their lives in a battle the name was changed to Bassano del Grappa as the battles took place on Mont Grappa. The symbol of the town is the wooden pontoon bridge. Designed by the famous architect Andrea Palladio in 1569. The bridge we see today is a result of rebuilding. It was destroyed many times during World War II. In fact, at one time after the bridge was destroyed, Alpine soldiers, the Alpini, took up a private collection to have the bridge completely rebuilt.
For something a little more current, you are probably aware of the fashion line Diesel. Well its founder and President, Renzo Rosso is a resident of Bassano del Grappa.
Besides the Montegrappa pen factory, there are other sights to see. Like the Cathedral which was built in 1000 (renovated in 1417) and the upper Castle, the Castello Superiore.
In Italy you will see the name Padova and outside the country the city is often referred to as Padua. This is an important city to visit. Although overlooked by some visitors Padova is one of the most important art cities in Italy. About a 20 minute train ride from Venice, either locations can be used as base with travel to the two cities very easy.
The town is scenic with a network of arcaded streets opening into large communal piazze, and many bridges crossing the various branches of the Bacchiglione River. At one time the River surrounded the ancient walls and was more like a moat.
Palazzo della Ragione has a great hall on top floor, and has the largest roof unsupported by columns in Europe. I remember this building as our hotel was located just around the corner from the piazza.
Work started on the Palazzo in 1172 and it took until 1219 to finish the structure.
It was changed in 1306 when Giovanni covered the the structure with a single roof - previously there were three roofs and divides to the main hall.
After a fire in thre 1400's the salon was refrescoed by Nicolo' Miretto and Stefano da Ferrara (1425 to 1440). Below the top flow is a market that has been taking place for centuries.
Scrovegni Chapel is the most famous sight in Padova. Inside are a series of frescoes completed in 1305 by Giotto. Enrico degli Scrovegni, a wealthy banker commissioned the work for his private chapel once attached to his family's palazzo.
The frescoes show the life of the Virgin Mary and the series is considered to one of the most important in the world.
Other than the work of Giotto's, the inside of the chapel is relatively plain. There is a stark barrel vault roof.
Of note is the work by Giotto's, the Last Judgment which covers the entire wall above the chapel's entrance.
Each wall of the chapel has three tiers of frescoes each with four two-meter-square scenes. The panels are noted for their emotional intensity, sculptural figures, and naturalistic space. Between the main scenes Giotto used a faux architectural scheme of painted marble decorations and small recesses.
Entrance to the chapel is an elaborate ordeal, as it involves spending 15 minutes prior to entrance in a climate-controlled, air locked vault, used to stabilize the temperature between the outside world and the inside of the chapel.
This is to improve preservation. Book ahead if planning a visit. You can book a tour of the chapel in advance - this is not one of those places that you just walk up to and go in.
Covering some 117 islands of the Benetian Lagoon, there is no place like Venice anywhere else you will travel in Italy.
When I was reading the novel The City of Falling Angels by John Berendt, the following few lines brought back some of my impressions of Venice:
"Having spent more than a week there in November 2004, I can attest to the rude mobs that jam the narrow streets, to the ludicrous pigeon-feeding frenzy in St. Mark's Square, to the endless rows of shops peddling cheesy masks and other overpriced junk, to mediocre food, also overpriced, and to the world's most expensive (and worst) martini, at the stupendously overrated Harry's Bar." But that being said, we returned in 2010 and again in 2016. Love Venice.
More than 50,000 tourists a day visit Venice, so be ready for crowds, and some of the not-so-pleasant experiences of traveling, but do visit Venice.
Yes this is a city over-run with tourists in all but the off season, if there is one, but is is a place you just have to experience. Some references to Venice say that this is a city that seduces, this is a city that irritates but it is definitely a city that will impress you.
There are six districts: Cannaregio, San Polo, Dorsoduro, Santa Croce, San Marco and Castello.
We were last in Venice in 2010. What has changed? The biggest change is there was a lot more tourists in the city! I remembered how busy the city was during the day, but the intensity of tourists was so much higher.
Renting an Apartment in Venice
On our last two visits we have rented an apartment in the San Marco area of Venice. Located not far from the Ponte dell'Accademia - one of only four bridges to span the Grand Canal in Venice - the apartment is well positioned. The entrance is off the Calle Vitturi o Falier and the apartment sits right on the quiet Rio del Duca canal. A door opens from the the table onto the canal. On our last trip we opened,the doors for access to the canal. This year, renovations on the building prevented that option. The apartment is part of the Palazzo Falier which was originally built in the 15th century. We did have a chance to walk through the Palazzo and the rooms were impressive. The apartment is listed on multiple rental sites, and the name changes from time to time. The rental information on Home Away can be found with this link.
We highly recommend staying in an apartment. Greater comfort and the experience of shopping for your food and cooking your means makes you feel like you are part of the city. Yes, we did go out for some meals but who needs to eat in a restaurant three meals a day! (Click on thumbnail below for larger image)
Piazza San Marco
This is St Mark's Square, is the centre of Venice. This is the the drawing room of Europe and the only square named a piazza in Venice. All others are called campi. Here is where you go to get your shots feeding the famous pigeons of Venice.
The Doge's Palace
The Palazzo Ducale, is one of the most photographed buildings in Venice. A gothic palace, the building that stands today was primarily built between 1309 to 1424. This was the residence of the Doge and contained the offices of various institutions. The first floor held offices for lawyers, the Chancellery; the Censors and the Naval Offices. The second floor held the Grand Council chamber, the Ballot chamber and the Doge's apartments. The third floor has the impressive Sala del Collegio which is covered with with paintings. At the rear is the Bridge of Sighs - the small bridge that connects to the prison across a small canal. All a very interesting tour.
Walk the town, enjoy the sights. Buy a day pass on the water bus system and you can ride to your hearts content seeing much.
Fondaco dei Turchi
Travel along the Grand Canal and there are numerous "fondaco" houses that date from the 13th to 18th Century. These were the houses of the rich merchants of Venice.
Pictured to the right is the Fondaco dei Turchi.
The houses were a combination of wharehouse and residence for the merchant.
From the canal the boats would have access to gounder the portico to unload. At this level, behind the portico would be storerooms. Typically at the back would be a courtyard.
Up above the canal on the first floor there is also a portico and this would let light into the merchant's room. The fondaco typically had a defense tower at each end. You can see on on the right in the photo above.
Scuola Grande di San Rocco
The scula di San Rocco dates back to 1478. We visited this school and remember being just overtaken with the artwork inside the building. There are two halls, one on each of the floors.
The exterior of the building was started in 1515 and finished in 1549. The brotherhoods, or schools, were like guilds. This was no art club. There was strong religious aspedts and the members formed penance through self-flagellation.
Sculoa Grande refers to the fact that this is one of the largest. There are seven different Suole Grandi and numerous Suole Minori.
There are four bridges that cross the Grand Canal, and this is the one with stunning architecture. The Rialto Market meant people had to get across the canal. The first bridge was a floating bridge. That was replacxed with a wood bridge in 1255.
The stone bridge that stands today was finished in 1591. There are two series of shops, one on each side.
The first time we went to Verona, we had the misfortune of arriving on a Monday. The city will be quite closed up on that day despite being the largest and most modern city of Veneto. We returned again in 2016. It is a beautiful city. The buildings have those rich red and orange colours and the architecture classic.
The piazza delle Erbe has passageways that link it to a series of squares. It is a great city to walk about although some of the main sights are quite the distance apart and it is easy to miss things.
When you make your way to the Piazza Bra you are in the centre of the town. There are some notable buildings that make up this piazza. Walk down the via Mazzini and that will take you to the Piazza delle Erbe.
Piazza delle Erbe was built using marble blocks and statues from Roman spas and villas that used to be in Verona. The Roman amphitheatre was finished about 30 AD and is the third largest in Italy (Rome, Capua). It could hold 25,000 spectators. The two-story façade that is in the city today is the internal support for the tiers. Only parts of the outer walls remain.The interior is very impressive and is intact. It is used today for public events such as an open-aired opera in the summer.
The Porta Borsari, (photo to the right) , is another Roman landmark that has survived the time and is impressive to see. It is an archway at on Corso Porta Borsari, is is the facade of a 3rd Century gate that stood in the original Roman walls of Vernon. The street that passes through the gate was the original Via Sarca of the original Roman city.
It is time to return to Verona and it is on out itinerary for our Italy 2010 trip. We will be staying in Venice for almost a week and plan to do some day trips by train, of which Verona is about 1 hours 15 minutes away.
Of course there is a pen store in Verona, and it is well worth a visit. Ask for Rudy: Manella Pens, via Mazzini, 5, Verona. Via Mazzini is the main pedestrian street that runs from the plaza by the arena towards Casa di Giulietta... yes that is Juliet's House. Follow the crowds.
Located 60 km from Venice, this is a town not to miss on any travels through the Veneto Region.
This is also known as the City of Palladio, because of the word that famed architect Palladio undertook. In 1994 UNESCO put Vincenza on the list of World Heritage Sites.
When you enter the city, make yourself to the Basilica Palladina, and view this building as well as the old soaring clock tower. On this visit we were unable to visit the Teatro Olimpico. It has a three-dimensional stage.
There are 23 buildings designed by Palladio, they include:
- The Villa Almeria Captra, also referred to as La Rotonda. It is located just outside the downtown area. Warning it is one of the sites to see, crowded and parking close by can be a challenge.
- The Basilica Palladina, a basilica that is distinctly different from the traditional church.