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Much has been said about this unique town, about its monuments, the magic atmosphere of the Carnival and its inhabitants. Perhaps it is better not to say anything else about it but simply to go there and admire the wonderful views, discover the masterpieces of art and architecture. That is the best way to discover how beautiful Venice really is, which would be enough in itself to make Veneto a unique region. But Veneto is not only this. There is so much to say about its riches that it would be impossible to make a list of all of them here. Which other region has so many masterpieces of art and architecture, or so many beautiful gardens?
There are many things to do if you go on holiday to Veneto but you should make sure to discover the local handicrafts. The first place to visit, famous for its goldcraft all over the world is Vicenza. This beautiful town is full of monuments and surrounded by charming landscape, where there are so many hillside towns to be visited. Bassano del Grappa, a charming town on the Brenta river, with a characteristic wooden bridge, is not only famous for its pottery: in this area there are several workshops specialising in the production of high-class furniture. Then there is the refined art of glass-making of Murano and the precious embroideries and laces of Burano, which make your trip to these islands very interesting.
As you move on to Friuli Venezia Giulia you will notice that the landscape is very similar. If you go to Friuli, you must visit is Trieste and Venezia Giulia; this town is situated in a charming location where you can see the Miramare castle and the celebrated resort of Muggia Bay, which offers a splendid panoramic view. The whole region is dominated by the Carso Mountains, which are a rich reserve of natural resources.
Places to see in Veneto
Most people speed through this month's featured region, Veneto, on their way to our favorite Italian city, Venice. From the train the land looks flat and unappealing, yet its cities are fascinating treasure troves of art and the art of fine living, and only a few miles to the north the Alps begin, heralded by charming little hill towns surrounded by picturesque world-class vineyards.
If the crowds in Venice overwhelm you, the nearby seaport town of Chioggia is in many ways a miniature replica, replete with a vast cathedral, fine palazzi and a warren of canals. The only thing missing is the tourists. Continuing south from here you'll come to the beautiful sandy beach at Rosolina Mare, where a cool, luxurious pine forest makes a perfect spot for a swim and a picnic, especially if you're traveling with children. Nature lovers and romantics will want to head just a bit further and experience the desolate beauty of the broad Po Delta.
Turning inland along route 443, you'll pass Adria, a sleepy little river town that was an ancient Roman center. Now it marks the edge of the Veneto's famed villa territory, and it's a gateway to Rovigo, home to a great museum called the Accademia dei Concordi, an ornate belltower designed by Longhena, and three tiers of frescoes representing the life of Mary in the Madonna del Soccorso church. From here we hop onto the A13 autostrada heading north, stopping briefly in three delightful little hill towns: first Monselice, then Este, which has a 14th-century walled castle and a renowned canvas by Tiepolo in its cathedral, and then Arquà Petrarca, a medieval village which appropriated the name of its most famous former resident, Francesco Petrarch.
Lord Byron loved this area, called the Euganean Hills. Try to visit it on weekdays when it's less crowded, so you can enjoy its cheerful trattorie and blessedly cool breezes. After lunch, head west on route 10 to the fairy-tale walled town of Montagnana. Still preserving most of its original medieval flavor, it has a magnificent town square, and there's a lovely Veronese Transfiguration over the altar in the 15th-century cathedral.
Now take Route 247 north to Acugliaro, then turn east toward the spa town of Abano Terme. After a few miles you'll come to the Benedictine monastery of Praglia, a peaceful complex of Renaissance buildings with excellent views of the hills, some fine paintings and a famous center for restoring old books. If you're around during Mass, you may hear some beautiful Gregorian chants.
Padua the Erudite awaits us. The second oldest university town in Europe, it's a great place to use as a base instead of Venice, which is only a short train ride away. One of the most unforgettable things to see in Padua is the 16th-century anatomy theatre in the Bo, the palazzo which also houses the Law School and the desk from which Galileo gave his lectures. You'll want to visit the Scrovegni Chapel (exquisitely frescoed by Giotto), the excellent Civic Museum, the fresco cycle in the baptristy of the cathedral and the famous romanesque-gothic church of Sant'Antonio. One of the most richly decorated churches in all of Italy, the locals simply call it "Il Santo." Andrea Mantegna's monumental frescoes in the church of the Eremiti are breathtaking, despite being heavily damaged in World War II. And do walk over to Prato della Valle, supposedly the largest piazza in all of Italy.
Back on the highway, take Route 47 north to Cittadella, another walled town. Unlike Montagnana, this fortress has circular walls made of bricks layered with pebbles from the Brenta River. Try to peep in at the small 19th-century theatre. A short detour takes you to Castelfranco Veneto, another walled town, birthplace of Giorgione. Two of his works are visible here: in the Casa di Giorgione, a frieze symbolizes the liberal and mechanical arts, and in the cathedral, the Castelfranco Madonna is to the right of the choir.
Travelling west on Route 245 you'll come to yet another version of the walled town. Marostica's bastions climb straight up the hill, overlooking the exquisite medieval square where a costumed human chess game is played every year in September. Vineyards abound here, producing the white wine that takes its name from the nearby town of Soave.
It's just a quick run north to Bassano del Grappa, home of the delicious and heady after-dinner spirits, and picturesque location of a wooden bridge built in the 16th century by Palladio. A warm and friendly town, Bassano has many old monuments and an excellent museum, and it is the gateway to the Pre-Alps, headquartered up the road in Belluno. Skiers, mountain climbers and alpine enthusiasts will love the villages strewn among these hills and dales. Take a few days to relax here. Drive on up the valley to look for movie stars in the world-famed resort of Cortina, or veer off to Pieve di Cadore, a remote mountain hamlet where you can visit the home of Titian and see one of his paintings in the local church. This great artist's works are scattered all over the towns in this area, by the way. Tracking them down can be great fun.
If you're planning to drive, train or bus around the region of Veneto at all, you've probably already included several of the famed Veneto villas on your itinerary. If you haven't, we strongly suggest you do. Any good guide book (Birnbaum's Italy and Frommer's Italy, to name just two) will give you plenty of choices, generally grouped by province. Some we recommend are Villas Barbaro, Emo, Cornaro, La Malcontenta, Badoer, Pisani Ferri, Valmarana "La Rotonda and Valmarana "Ai Nani".