Italy is one of the most incredible places on earth to visit, despite its smaller size. The history and intrigue here are sure to capture imaginations and create lasting memories.
There are 20 regions in Italy ranging in size and diversity, covering mountains to oceans and everything in between.
One of the most famous and romantic is Veneto which boasts the incredible city of Venice, built on water and traversed by boat or foot. With a history in the Roman Empire and a tie to two of the most famous fictional characters in literature, Romeo & Juliet, Veneto is a fantastic vacation option for lovers and families alike.
Here are some sites to keep in mind when visiting Veneto:
1) Venice (Venezia)
Venice is a unique city, unlike any other, built on water and utilizing hundreds of bridges and canals to make travelling the area possible. The largest canal being the Grand Canal, which is famous for gondola rides. The historic heritage and artistic designs of Venice make it the perfect place to include in any Italian holiday plan. With 6 different districts, including San Marco, Cannareio, San Polo, Dorsoduro, Santa Croce, & Castello, there are many things to keep you occupied during your stay. Since Venice is entirely walkable, the sights and scenes are easy to access. View ancient mosaics, Campanile bell and St. Mark’s Basilica in Piazza San Marco. Wander over to Doge’s Palace, a gothic masterpiece with marble buildings and centuries of history, which acts as a museum for the public.
Take a gondola ride with your love or even by yourself, and take in all the gorgeous sights of Venice from the relaxation of a floating vessel. Wander over to Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo and climb the spiral staircase to see the roof-top view of Venice. Finally, visit the oldest café in Europe, Caffé Florian, which was considered the hunting ground of Casanova and features wines and coffees from around the world.
Don’t forget to take a couple of days to tour the small nearby islands of Murano (famous for the Murano glass), Burano (famous for lace-making) and Torcello (known for historic architecture).
The infamous location of the star-crossed lovers from Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet, which, although fictional, still draw people to the area to see the balcony of Juliet and her statue, which is said to bring luck in love. Verona is listed as an UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its historic buildings and Roman monuments, including the Roman amphitheater, the Arena. This Arena is still in use to this day, featuring music, fairs, and open-aired opera in the warmer months. Another Roman monument nearby is the Roman theatre of Verona, which was built upon with housing and then revitalized as a theater in the 18th century. Not far from this is the Ponte di Pietra or Stone Wall Bridge, which is a Roman landmark that has survived the test of time. With a bit of a hike, you can also reach Santuario Madonna della Corona, a historic chapel built into a cliffside and featuring a replica of the stairs to Pilate’s palace, where Jesus ascended before being condemned to death.
Surrounded by the peaks of the Dolomites, which were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2009, Belluno has a historic past and artistic feel. Walk along ancient Roman roads, visit the amazing architectural sites of Palazzo Crepadona, Church of San Pietro, Palazzo dei Rettori, Palazzo di Giustizia and Palazzo Rosso. Enjoy outdoor activities in the Dolomite mountain ranges including hiking and winter sports. The church of Santo Stefano di Belluno has great artistic importance and features large wooden alterpieces by Matteo Cesa as well as a collection of frescoes thought to be created by Jacopo da Montagnana. Lastly, don’t hesitate to visit Palazzo Fulcis, an artistically significant museum with works by many famous Italian artists as well as porcelain pieces and a collection of rare Renaissance bronze statues.
4) Padua (Padova)
This larger university town houses the famous University of Padua, founded in 1222 and the oldest university after Bologna. This university is said to have hosted Galileo Galilei as a lecturer. In addition, the famous Shakespeare comedy, the Taming of the Shrew, is set here in Padua.
Dating from 1545, Padua’s botanical garden is said to be the oldest one in Europe that currently resides in the same location and another UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Basilica of Saint Antonio houses the tomb of the saint as well as statues and reliefs by Donatello. Outside the Basilica, in the piazza, is a magnificent bronze statue of a horse and rider (Erasmo da Narni). Take in more architecture and history with the Ragione Palazzo, Capitano Palazzo and Bo Palazzo.
Don’t underestimate the lovely little town of Rovigo, which has some incredible sights to see such as museums, Palladian villas and terrific exhibitions. With only an hour train ride from Venice standing between you and Rovigo, it is worth a day trip to check out the Tempio della Beata Vergine del Soccorso, an amazing octagonal church, which houses baroque frescoes and sculptures. Palazzo Roncale, which contains many important works including a Bellini Madonna with child, as well as works by Tiepolo and Palma il Vecchio is nearby – plus, it’s free to enter! Head down to the Palazzo Roverella to see its current exhibition, which features more than just the typical artwork in the form of paintings and sculptures. Here you will also find metal work, jewellery, wood carvings, marquetry and furniture. Take a moment to look up at the original beams and frescoes in the ceiling while enjoying the exhibition and see the perfect combination of modernization and old world charm.
Boasting the origins of both Prosecco wine & Tiramisu, this region has incredible delights for all the senses. Walk the Piazza dei Signori and take in the historic town hall, Palazzo dei Trecento, constructed around 1185. Treviso Cathedral (Duomo di Treviso), a Roman Catholic Cathedral, has a rich history and currently houses the crypt of the city’s bishops as well as famous frescoes and artwork. The main museum here, Museo di Santa Caterina, which was a church and convent in earlier years, contains a collection of frescoes, art and archaeology finds. Schedule a day trip to the Prosecco Hills, another UNESCO World Heritage Site, to enjoy the world-famous wines or pop in to a local eatery to taste delicious confections and even the original birthplace of Tiramisu.
This historic town has also been deemed an UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its unique appearance, which it owes to work by architect Andrea Palladio. Vicenza, known as the city of gold, is famous for its trade in precious metals. A short walk away from the town center, you can encounter beautiful villas and viewpoints in the nearby hills. Many of the town’s buildings are quite grand, owing to Palladio, with additional medieval and Venetian Gothic style buildings throughout. Take a walk around the town to enjoy the scenery and landmarks like the Basilica Palladiana, a medieval law court building as well as the adjacent Torre di Piazza, a tall, skinny tower. The most famous site is the Teatro Olimpico, also by Palladio, modelled on ancient Roman theatres, this curved amphitheatre style incorporates a permanent stage set with street scenes and classic motifs. Nearby you can find the Palazzo Chiericati, which houses the town’s museum and art gallery. A hike up the hill to the Santuario di Monte Berico, a baroque-style church housing a collection of religious art, provides you with picturesque views of the city.
Whether you are looking for adventure or romance, the Veneto region of Italy is sure to have everything you need to make a memorable vacation.