Veneto

In the north-east of Italy, with a short border with Austria at its northen end and a longer coastline on the Adriatic Sea to the east, is Veneto, an affluent region very popular with tourists. It is particularly famous for its art and architecture, its wine and for the beauty and romance of its capital, Venice. Not surprisingly, quite a few of Italy's UNESCO World Heritage Sites are in Veneto.

 

What to see and do in Veneto

Enjoy the mountains

The north of the region stretches into the Dolomites, where the skiing is great.

 

In the summer, the area around Belluno is wonderful for hiking and biking, as well as for communing with nature in clean and beautiful surroundings. The Dolomiti Bellunesi National Park offers all of this and more.

 

Enjoy the lake

The eastern shore of Lake Garda has many interesting places to visit. My uncle used to have a flat in Torri del Benaco and, when I lived in Milan, I often went there to see him. Torri is a fishing village that has grown and developed somewhat but has remained essentially unspoilt. It's friendly and welcoming and I always enjoyed my trips there. The beach is pebbly but, in the summer, the swimming is peaceful and lovely. You can also windsurf, sail and paraglide - the lake is huge and the scope is almost endless for having fun in and on the water.

 

Explore Venezia (Venice)

Grand Canal, VeniceVenezia's reputation as a unique and romantic destination is well deserved. I'd heard so much about how great it was that I thought it had to be an anti-climax... but it's not. Venice really is as special as everyone says.

 

If you've got a few days free at any time of year, a city break to Venice is going to be a joy. The city does get full of tourists, particularly in the summer, but you'll find that in a lot of places and you just fight your way through them. The only time I would suggest you avoid, unless you're doing it on purpose, is late winter / early spring, when Venezia holds its carnival.

 

Venice is a small city and you can see a great deal of it on foot. Beyond that, public transport will take you efficiently across the water. The vaporetti and motoscafi, the waterbuses, are frequent and reasonably priced (especially if you get a day pass). A ride in a gondola is somewhat clichéd and extremely expensive, so I wouldn't recommend it unless you really don't have to worry about money.

 

Some of the obvious highlights of Venezia are:

 

 

For information about the Doge’s Palace and other museums and galleries in Venice, see the website of the Venice Foundation for Civic Museums.

 

 

 

Explore Verona

Verona is another beautiful, historic Italian city with lots to offer all the year round. If you want sumptuous architecture, vibrant culture and some good food, a city break to Verona is a good bet.

 

Verona, ItalyHighlights include:


Verona is also well known for being the setting for Shakespeare's tragedy Romeo and Juliet.

 

Explore the other cities and towns

There are many other cities and towns in Veneto that are worth visiting, such as Padova, Treviso and Vicenza.

 

Other ideas

Visit a winery. If you're interested in learning about the local wines, you can join a wine tour of the area or make a private visit to a vineyard.

 

Spend some rejuvenating 'you' time at a spa. There's a nice one at Abano Terme.

 

If you like theme parks, check out Gardaland.

 

Eating and drinking in Veneto

The food in Veneto is fabulous! Beyond the delicious pasta, some local specialities to look out for are:

 

 

As far as pudding is concerned, the Venetians did the world a huge favour by inventing tiramisù.

 

Veneto wines

This is a region famous for its wine production. There are many wonderful wines from Veneto, including Soave, Bardolino and Valpolicella. Beautiful, sparkling Prosecco is also made in this region and has to be tried.

 

Grappa, the powerful Italian spirit, is generally accepted to have been invented in Veneto.

 

Recommended reading from, about and set in Veneto

Dino Buzzati

Born in San Pellegrino, near Belluno, in 1906, Buzzati was an existentialist writer. He is best known for his brilliant, if disturbing, book called Il Deserto dei Tartari (The Tartar Steppe), which has echoes of both Kafka and Camus.

 

Italian life through English eyes

Tim Parks is a prize-winning English writer who married an Italian and went to live in Verona, where he has written several books about life in Italy from a foreigner's perspective. I read Italian Neighbours while I was living in Milan and found it resonated with my own experience.

 

Novels set in Venezia

Donna Leon's series of excellent crime novels featuring Commissario Guido Brunetti is set in Venice. The first one is Death at La Fenice.

 

Salley Vickers's engaging novel Miss Garnet's Angel is about a middle-aged woman who discovers life by going to live in Venice for six months. A variation on the Shirley Valentine theme, giving a strong sense of the city.

 

For more information about Veneto...

Buy a guide book for travelling around Veneto.

 

Check out this website:

Veneto Inside

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