Touring Veneto - Part 1: Venezia, Verona & Padua
Many Italian regions are known for one famous city, although they have many others that are worth visiting. Veneto is definitely one of those regions, most famous for Venice, but the area is extremely rich in opportunities for a holiday full of fun, relaxation and culture that extend beyond the lagoon city.
Given the climate, the best time to visit Veneto is spring to autumn. You may want to avoid the hotter weeks of July and August, since humidity levels can make your stay uncomfortable, unless you plan to spend most of the time on the beach. This is also the time the area is usually flooded with tourists, so if you want a bit more space and peace you may want to look at dates outside the high season.
In summer the beach resorts of Veneto come to life with a multitude of tourists, mostly concentrated on the vibrant beaches of Jesolo, Caorle and Bibione, all equipped with modern facilities, fine sands and lively atmospheres. Jesolo is best known for its nightlife, while Bibione is famous for its spas. Caorle is an old village and its streets and squares are very reminiscent of Venice. The Lido of Venice, once the elegant symbol of the holiday, is now a tourist destination for families looking for the all comforts of home.
From the beaches you can take day trips to the Dolomites. Despite the high number of hotels, lodges and resorts ready to comfortably accommodate tourists, the mountains are still wild and unspoiled. Many activities are offered to suit every need. From quiet hiking and walking in the quaint towns to extreme sports such as rafting, the Dolomites offer something for everyone. Of course, you may choose to stay in the hills to avoid the summer heat and take day trips to the seaside locations instead.
In winter there are many places equipped with modern lifts perfect for ski bunnies. Cortina d'Ampezzo is one of the most famous ski resorts in the world, both for the quality of the tracks and its après ski social life.
The most visited city in the Veneto region - and one of the most visited in the world - is Venice. Magical and unique, this city built on water is not only a romantic’s paradise, but also perfect for history buffs too. Venice is a city rich in history, decorated with beautiful churches, museums and palazzos. Among the major monuments of the city is the Piazza San Marco. The Piazza is surrounded by arcades in which you can find famous bars and jewelry stores, and is marked by the bell tower that stands by the Basilica of San Marco and the Palazzo Ducale. The Basilica is a magnificent example of Byzantine architecture and is a measure of the wealth of the great city state of Venice. The interior is decorated with mosaics that will take your breath away and, despite the size of the building, the architectural elements are designed to give you an idea of lightness. The Campanile, much more sober in style, rises in a corner of the square.
The Ducal Palace, initially conceived as a fortress, was soon transformed into the elegant residence of the Doges and is the most famous example of Venetian Gothic architecture in the area. The palace is home to major exhibitions and its rich rooms attract thousands of visitors every year. The building is separated from the nearby prison by a narrow channel and the two buildings are connected by the famous Bridge of Sighs. The most famous bridge in Venice is without a doubt the Rialto Bridge, built in 1591, it is made of beautiful stone and is covered with shops on either side of the walkway. The number of bridges that cross the Canal Grande recently went up by one, as Archistar Calatrava has deployed his glass and steel bridge that lies just outside the railway station.
If you’re looking for peace and quiet you may want to look outside Venice as the famous city is overrun by tourists all year round. Significant events are the famous Carnival in February and the international film festival in July. Beyond the monuments, Venice is a treasure in itself and just the experience of walking through its streets, stopping in taverns, and enjoying the laid-back town, justifies a trip.
Verona is known as the city of love. Here Shakespeare set Romeo and Juliet, and Juliet's balcony is one of the most visited landmarks of the city. But Verona, rich and elegant, also has other notable attractions. The Arena is a large Roman amphitheater, perfectly preserved and still used for performances, concerts and events. Piazza delle Erbe, the old heart of the city, is a charming medieval square, surrounded by historic buildings.
The cultured university town of Padua is often visited for the majestic Basilica of St. Anthony of Padua (actually a native of Lisbon), a fascinating amalgam of Romanesque, Gothic and Byzantine architecture, and the Scrovegni Chapel, richly decorated with frescoes by Giotto.
Whether its beaches, mountains or cities you seek the Veneto region definitely will have something to draw you in and hold your attention. From Venice to the Dolomites, Padua to Verona, Veneto is one of those places where you never stop finding things that awe and attract.