Set forth on an enthralling trip through the mesmerizing landscapes and vibrant cities of the beautiful Veneto region, located in the northeastern part of Italy, bordered by the Dolomite Mountains to the north, the Adriatic Sea to the east, and the Po River to the south.
Let the captivating charisma of Venice's canals whisk you away, then venture into the intellectual haven of Padua steeped in ancient wisdom. Explore the harmonious blend of elegance and history in Vicenza's architecture before immersing yourself in the passionate tales that echo through the streets of Verona. Go through the picturesque hills and vineyards of Valpolicella, surrender to the breathtaking beauty surrounding Lago di Garda, and find your rhythm in the melodious heart of Cremona.
Get to know the main cities of this bewitching region and all of the interesting highlights that it is home to!
Venice: Navigating the canals of enchantment
The fascinating city of Venice, often hailed as the Queen of the Adriatic, is a floating masterpiece, with its myriad canals and winding alleyways, that creates a dreamlike atmosphere, capturing the hearts of travelers, time and time again. The canals are lined with colorful buildings and charming bridges, and the sound of water lapping against the stone walls creates a calming and peaceful scenery. It’s quite easy to see why Venice is considered to be one of the most romantic cities in the world!
Venice, once one of the main ports in the Mediterranean, is a living testament to a bygone era of grandeur, preserved in its splendid architecture and meandering waterways. As you glide along the Grand Canal - the main waterway that snakes through Venice - on a traditional gondola, you will be able to marvel at the stunning palazzos adorned with intricate facades and the iconic Rialto Bridge. This iconic canal offers a unique perspective on the city's interesting architecture, and a gondola ride or vaporetto trip along the canal is an essential Venetian experience – and a very romantic one to say the least! The Rialto Bridge is definitely a symbol of Venice, and the surrounding Rialto Market offers a vibrant atmosphere, with fresh produce and local goods that have been traded here for centuries.
Explore the charming labyrinth of cobbled streets and narrow passageways that lead to hidden squares and secret gardens, each with its own unique tale of romance. It is within these secluded corners that you may find yourself sipping an espresso or indulging in gelato while admiring the effortless beauty of this city with no cars.
When in Venice, a visit to the renowned Piazza San Marco, the heart of the city, is a must. Here, you will be greeted by the exquisite St. Mark's Basilica, its glistening mosaics and Byzantine domes a testament to Venice's rich history. The majestic Campanile di San Marco stands tall and proud, offering amazing panoramic views of the city. St. Mark's Square is also home to the Doge's Palace, also known as the Palazzo Ducale, which is an important landmark, containing a number of grand halls, opulent rooms, and chambers, as well as masterpieces by Venetian artists. Once the seat of the Venetian government, the Doge's Palace is an architectural masterpiece that combines Gothic and Renaissance styles. This bustling square is perfect for people-watching. And as the sun sets over the lagoon, casting a golden hue upon the water, you can always lose yourself in the enchanting melodies of a live Vivaldi performance, for example, at La Fenice, the city's historic opera house.
Just a short boat ride from Venice, you will find Murano and Burano, two small islands located in the Venetian Lagoon. Murano is famous for its long tradition of glassmaking, and you can explore its glass factories and museums. Burano, on the other hand, is known for its colorful houses and lace-making tradition, and you can stroll along its picturesque canals and shop for handmade lace products. Both islands offer a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of Venice, and a chance to experience the unique culture and traditions of the Venetian archipelago.
Padua: A timeless blend of art, culture, and serenity
Nestled in the heart of the Veneto region, the ancient city of Padua offers an enchanting retreat from the bustling world, inviting you to experience the simple pleasures of life.
You can begin your exploration at the magnificent Prato della Valle, one of the largest and most picturesque squares in Europe. With its verdant lawns, elegant statues and tranquil canals, this lovely space provides the perfect setting for a leisurely stroll or a moment of quiet contemplation after some sightseeing.
Be sure to also marvel at the artistic splendors that reside within its sacred walls. Venture into the Scrovegni Chapel, where Giotto's mesmerizing frescoes, depicting scenes from the lives of Jesus and the Virgin Mary, will surprise you with their vivid colors and emotional depth. The Eremitani Church, adjacent to the Scrovegni Chapel, is also a beautiful Gothic church featuring frescoes by Mantegna, and the neighboring Civic Museum houses an extensive collection of paintings, sculptures, and archaeological artifacts that showcase Padua's rich cultural heritage.
As you wander through the cobbled streets of Padua, take the opportunity to visit the Basilica of Saint Anthony, a revered pilgrimage site that blends Romanesque, Gothic, and Byzantine architectural styles. Feel the spiritual energy that pervades this sacred space, and take a moment to honor the saint and his tomb, who has inspired countless devotees throughout the centuries.
For a taste of Padua's thriving academic atmosphere, make your way to the historic and remarkable University of Padua, one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in the world and definitely a must-visit once in town! Here, you can retrace the footsteps of great minds such as Galileo Galilei and Nicolaus Copernicus, who once graced these hallowed halls with their wisdom and curiosity. If you are a nature lover and looking for some tranquility, you can always head to Padua's Botanical Garden, the world's oldest academic garden.
If you want to get more acquainted with Padua’s history, be sure to stop by the Palazzo della Ragione, once the seat of the city's government. This impressive medieval building features an enormous hall adorned with captivating frescoes, and the surrounding market area, including the lively Piazza delle Erbe and Piazza della Frutta, offers a glimpse into the daily life of Padua and its bustling commerce.
Vicenza: The architectural jewel of Palladio's legacy
Vicenza, often referred to as the "City of Palladio”, full of elegance and charm, is a testament to the genius of the renowned architect Andrea Palladio, whose harmonious designs have graced the city with unparalleled beauty and sophistication.
Just by strolling through the cobblestone streets, you will find yourself captivated by the harmonious fusion of classical and modern elements that define Vicenza's unique character. The heart of the city, Piazza dei Signori, is adorned with architectural wonders such as the Basilica Palladiana and the Torre Bissara.
Experience the enduring legacy of Palladio by visiting his iconic creations, such as the Teatro Olimpico, the world's first covered theater. Its captivating trompe-l'oeil stage sets and intricate sculptures will transport you back to a time of artistic brilliance. The nearby Palazzo Chiericati, now home to the city's art museum, is another exquisite example of Palladio's harmonious designs. You can also immerse yourself in the splendor of the countryside with a visit to the Villa Rotonda, another Palladio's architectural masterpiece. This villa, set amidst lush gardens and rolling hills, is one of the most celebrated buildings in the history of modern architecture.
Beyond Palladio's masterpieces, Vicenza has plenty more to offer. The stunning Gothic-style Church of Santa Corona, for example, houses a number of artistic treasures, including a Bellini altarpiece and frescoes by Veronese, while the picturesque Monte Berico, with the Sanctuary of the Madonna of Monte Berico atop its hill, offers breathtaking panoramic views of Vicenza and its surrounding countryside. Also, the Palazzo Leoni Montanari, a Baroque-style palace located in the historic center of Vicenza, built in the late 17th century by architect Giovanni Maria Falconetto for the noble Leoni family, is a beautiful palace adorned with stunning frescoes and stucco work.
Aside from these must-visit attractions, and to further explore this cultural heritage, you can also visit the Palladio Museum, located within the elegant Palazzo Barbaran da Porto, in the heart of Vicenza. Dedicated to the life and work of the renowned architect Andrea Palladio, the museum showcases his architectural designs, models, and sketches, as well as providing insight into his impact on architecture worldwide.
Situated just outside Vicenza, you can also stop by Villa Valmarana ‘ai Nani’, a stunning example of a Venetian villa designed by Palladio's pupil, Francesco Muttoni, that offers you a glimpse into the opulent lifestyle of the Venetian nobility during the 18th century.
Verona: Where romance and history converge
In the heart of the Veneto region lies Verona, a city that effortlessly weaves together the threads of romance, history, and culture. As you explore its lovely streets and marvel at the architectural wonders, you will be enchanted by the spell that Verona casts!
Begin your journey at the ancient Roman Arena, one of the best-preserved amphitheaters in the world. Here, you can almost hear the echoes of gladiatorial battles and the cheers of enthralled spectators. Today, the Arena serves as a backdrop for spectacular opera performances. Right next to the Arena, you will find Piazza Brà, the largest square in the city and one of the largest in the country. Sit down on one of the garden benches and take in the fabulous scenery, while admiring the lovely Fountain of the Alps, a gift from Verona’s sister city, Munich.
Follow the footsteps of history through the medieval streets of Verona, where you will find the breathtaking Piazza delle Erbe. Once the site of a Roman forum, this bustling square is now a vibrant hub of daily life, filled with lively markets, historic buildings, and bustling cafés. It is a great place to sit back, relax and have a Spritz, an aperitif from the days when the Verona region was dominated by the Austro-Hungarian empire.
Pay a visit to the famous and legendary Casa di Giulietta, the supposed home of Shakespeare's tragic heroine, Juliet. Stand beneath the famed balcony and be swept away by the timeless tale of star-crossed love that has captured the hearts of generations. It is one of the most famous places in the city of Verona!
While in town, and to better understand its history, be sure to visit the Castelvecchio, an impressive medieval fortress, constructed in the 14th century, that now houses the Castelvecchio Museum. The museum boasts an extensive collection of art, sculpture, and artifacts from Verona's rich history, spanning from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance.
The Basilica of San Zeno Maggiore, a stunning example of Romanesque architecture, is also worth a close look. It is dedicated to Verona's patron saint and features beautifully carved bronze doors, intricate frescoes, and the famous altarpiece by Andrea Mantegna. The tranquil cloister and peaceful surroundings make it worth it on its own! Also, take a stroll through Piazza dei Signori, a lovely square surrounded by imposing historical buildings, including the Palazzo della Ragione and the Loggia del Consiglio. It actually represents the political heart of Verona.
Rising above the city's skyline, you will see the Torre dei Lamberti, which offers unparalleled panoramic views of Verona. Climb the 84-meter-high tower, either by foot or elevator, to admire the red-tiled rooftops, winding streets, and historic monuments. Be sure to also cross the Ponte Pietra, a striking Roman bridge that spans the tranquil Adige River, and venture into the serene Giardino Giusti. This Renaissance garden, with its elegant terraces, lush greenery, and amazing views of the city, offers the perfect respite from the city's energetic pace.
In the twilight hours, the city's historic charm comes alive, inviting you to discover the magic that lies within its walls.
Valpolicella: A sensory journey through vineyards and scenic beauty
Venture beyond the cities of the Veneto region and discover the enchanting landscape of Valpolicella, a picturesque land of rolling hills and lush vineyards, set in the hills behind the city of Verona, just 15 km from Lake Garda, that invites you to embark on a sensory journey. If you are a wine and food lover, you are in for a gastronomic treat!
At the heart of Valpolicella lies its world-renowned wine production, a source of pride and passion for the region – it is easy to see why the region is also known as the “valley of many cellars”. Wander through the vineyards, where the sun-kissed grapes are carefully cultivated to produce the exquisite Amarone della Valpolicella, Valpolicella Ripasso, and Recioto della Valpolicella wines. Visit the local wineries, where you can learn about the ancient art of winemaking and sample the fruits of their labor, savoring the full-bodied flavors that embody the essence of this region. Valpolicella is considered to be one of the most significant Italian winemaking regions, and the wines are more typically red in color.
Explore the picturesque hamlets, where time seems to have stood still, and immerse yourself in the serene ambiance of village life. You can visit, for example, the San Giorgio village, which has been inhabited since the Bronze Age. It sits atop a hill, offering breathtaking views of both Valpolicella and Lake Garda, making it a must-visit destination. While visiting this fascinating area, you will be able to marvel at historic Romanesque churches, such as the Church of San Floriano and the Church of San Giorgio, which stand as testaments to the region's architectural and cultural heritage.
Take the time to also venture into the Lessinia Natural Park, a protected area of stunning landscapes, where you can hike, bike, or simply wander through the lush forests, limestone formations, and verdant pastures. Uncover the secrets of the region's geological past at the Molina Waterfall Park, where the powerful force of water has carved out breathtaking cascades and rock formations over millennia.
Satisfy your palate with the flavors of Valpolicella's culinary traditions. Indulge in dishes that celebrate the region's bountiful harvest, from the savory pastissada de caval to the creamy risotto all'Amarone, paired with the perfect glass of local wine.
Lago di Garda: An oasis of natural wonders
Welcome to the bewitching world of Lago di Garda, Italy's largest lake, where the mesmerizing beauty of nature blends with charming towns and thrilling adventures. Discover the allure of Lago di Garda's timeless charm, as it unfolds like a vibrant watercolor painting!
Meander along the shimmering shoreline and marvel at the lush green hills, rugged cliffs, and crystal-clear waters that create a picture-perfect backdrop for leisurely strolls and invigorating hikes. Allow the gentle breeze to guide you!
One of the greatest ways to really get to know the lake and its splendors is to take a boat tour and venture through the crystalline waters while admiring the quaint Veronese coast, the Sirmione Peninsula, and the mountainous surroundings. Enjoy the unique experience that will give you an all-new perspective of the lake, which has inspired many travelers and artists!
On the boat tour, you will be able to explore one of the lake’s beauties: Isola di Garda. Also known as Isola Borghese, it is the largest island on Lake Garda. Located in the southwestern part of the lake, near the town of San Felice del Benaco in the province of Brescia, it has a rich history, with various noble families owning it over the centuries. Currently, the island is privately owned by the Cavazza family, who have been the custodians since the early 20th century. The main attraction is the Venetian neo-Gothic style villa, Villa Borghese-Cavazza, which was built in the late 19th century.
Nestled along the shores of Lago di Garda, you will find a collection of beautiful towns and villages. Wander through the narrow cobblestone streets of Sirmione, known for its thermal baths, the imposing Scaligero Castle, and the ancient Roman villa, Grotte di Catullo. In Malcesine, lose yourself in the pleasant atmosphere of its historic center, as you explore the winding alleys, bustling markets, and lively piazzas. You can also take the opportunity to visit the Republic of Salò, officially known as the Italian Social Republic (Repubblica Sociale Italiana, or RSI). It was founded in 1943 after the fall of Benito Mussolini and the collapse of the Italian Fascist government. The republic was established in the town of Salò on the shores of Lake Garda, which is where it got its nickname. You can stroll through the beautiful promenade along the lakeshore, admire the cathedral, or just wander through the narrow streets and alleys of Salò's historic center to discover charming shops, cafes, and restaurants, as well as hidden squares and beautiful architecture.
Be sure to also stop by Riva del Garda, located at the northern tip of the lake, and known for its strong winds, making it a popular spot for sailing. The town also features a lovely historic center and the impressive Rocca, a medieval fortress housing a museum. Pay a visit to Bardolino as well, a charming town famous for its wine production, particularly the Bardolino red wine. It offers a pleasant lakeside promenade, a picturesque old town, and several wine-tasting opportunities.
As the sun begins to set, indulge in the flavors of the region's culinary delights. Savor freshly caught fish from the lake with a glass of crisp wine, as you watch the sky transform into a canvas of vibrant hues.
Cremona: The melodious birthplace of violins
Step into the enchanting Cremona, a city where you can actually feel the essence of art and music. Begin your exploration in the heart of Cremona, at the magnificent Piazza del Comune. Surrounded by architectural treasures, such as the gothic Cremona Cathedral and the exquisite Torrazzo, this bustling square embodies the city's vibrant spirit. Climb to the top of the Torrazzo, the second tallest brickwork bell tower in Europe, and admire the panoramic views of Cremona's red-tiled rooftops and beyond.
As the birthplace of the violin, Cremona has a special place in the world of music. The city's most famous son, Antonio Stradivari, crafted instruments that are still revered today for their exceptional sound and beauty. Uncover the secrets of this art form at the Museo del Violino, where you can admire the exquisite craftsmanship of the world's most renowned violin makers and even attend a live concert, showcasing the magic of these instruments.
Stroll along the charming streets of Cremona, where history and art are interwoven into the fabric of everyday life. Visit the splendid Church of San Sigismondo, a hidden gem adorned with breathtaking frescoes by Pordenone and Campi, and witness the harmony of art and spirituality.
After the sightseeing, treat yourself to the mouthwatering sweetness of the Torrone, a traditional nougat, or savor the flavors of the region's delicious risottos and cured meats, paired with exquisite local wine.