My Travels in Italy

There is much to see in this Region of Italy. When some think of Veneto, they think of Venice and the flat lands that surround that city. But there is much more. Almost a third of the Region is mountains. The highest in the Dolomites is the Marmolada-massift at 3,342 meters.

The next chunk, just over 50% of the Region, is the Po Valley. It runs from the mountains to the Adriatic Sea. The Euganean Hills, Berici Hills, Colli Asolani and Montello break up the flat lands of the Po. The Region extends to the eastern shore of the largest lake in Italy, Lake Garda. There is much to see in this Region.

One of the primary sites is Venice, however, the architecture and history of the other towns and cities should not be missed.

If you do not have a car, take the train to Turin where there is rail access to the jewels of Vicenza, Verona, Padua and then Venice.

Asolo

About 40 km from Venice, we visited this beautiful old walled town on one of our first trips into the Veneto Region. Located in the foothills of the Dolomite mountains, the area is lush with forests. I remember the road to the town was very scenic.

On our firsti, 1994 trip we simply drove into the town. Our first trip was back in 1994 and at that time we remember driving right into the town, up to the square opposite the hotel. It was great. Years later we returned to find you park outside the town centre - a good idea as the streets are very narrow and the cars just ruin the ambiance of the town.

Piazza Garibaldi is the centre of the town complete with a 16th Century fountain. The town is easy city to explore. The cathedral is impressive, medieval, but updated in the 18th Century. Looks plain on the outside but inside impressive artwork. There is also part of the ancient roman acquaduct that can be seen in the Piazza Angelo Brugnoli.

Outside the town is the Villa Barbaro which is a very impressive 16th Century villa that has frescoes and an interesting decor.

Bassano del Grappa

Old city, grand buildings and a covered bridge that has been re-built many times. Great colour tones to the buildings of Bassano, this is a nice town to visit. Of course this town is also famous for the Italian pen company - Montegrappa.

Having visited Bassano del Grappa a number of years ago, we returned here in 2009 for a tour of the Montegrappa factory and a visit to the town.

The history of this town has been tied to the World Wars. Infact, it was originally called Bassano Veneto but after thousands of soldiers lost their lives in a battle the name was changed to Bassano del Grappa as the battles took place on Mont Grappa. The symbol of the town is the wooden pontoon bridge. Designed by the famous architect Andrea Palladio in 1569. The bridge we see today is a result of rebuilding. It was destroyed many times during World War II. In fact, at one time after the bridge was destroyed, Alpine soldiers, the Alpini, took up a private collection to have the bridge completely rebuilt.

For something a little more current, you are probably aware of the fashion line Diesel. Well its founder and President, Renzo Rosso is a resident of Bassano del Grappa.

Besides the Montegrappa pen factory, there are other sights to see. Like the Cathedral which was built in 1000 (renovated in 1417) and the upper Castle, the Castello Superiore.

Padova

In Italy you will see the name Padova and outside the country the city is often referred to as Padua. Overlooked by some visitors, this is one of the most important art cities in Italy. It can be reached in 20 minutes by train from Venice. Or, stay in Padova and use it as a base for the Region. A scenic network of arcaded streets open onto a large communal piazze. A number of bridges cross the branches of the Bacchiglione River.

Palazzo della Ragione the top floor is a great hall with the largest roof unsupported by columns in Europe. Work started in 1172 finishing in 1219. In 1306 Giovanni covered the the structure with a single roof - previously there were three roofs and divides to the main hall. After a fire in the 1400's the salon was refrescoed by Nicolo' Miretto and Stefano da Ferrara (1425 to 1440).

Scrovegni Chapel, the most famous sight in Padova, has a series of frescoes (1305, by Giotto). Enrico degli Scrovegni, a wealthy banker, commissioned the work for his private chapel that was once attached to his family's palazzo. The frescoes show the life of the Virgin Mary and the series is considered to one of the most important in the world. Other than the work of Giotto's, the inside of the chapel is relatively plain. There is a stark barrel vault roof. Of note is the work by Giotto's, the Last Judgment which covers the entire wall above the chapel's entrance.

Each wall has three tiers of frescoes each with four two-meter-square scenes. The panels are noted for their emotional intensity, sculptural figures, and naturalistic space. Between the main scenes Giotto used a faux architectural scheme of painted marble decorations and small recesses. Entrance to the chapel is an complicated, 15 minutes prior to entrance in a climate-controlled, air locked vault, used to stabilize the temperature between the outside world and the inside of the chapel. This is to improve preservation. Book ahead if planning a visit.

Venice

Covering some 117 islands of the Benetian Lagoon, there is no place like Venice anywhere else you will travel in Italy. The poor city is being destroyed by tourism. Local businesses close, tourist shops open, packed during the day, but lots of room to enjoy the city after 4:30 pm. Cruise ships have been banned and now in 2024 there are limits be placed on the size of tour groups.

There are six districts: Cannaregio, San Polo, Dorsoduro, Santa Croce, San Marco and Castello.

We were last in Venice in 2010. What has changed? The biggest change is there was a lot more tourists in the city! I remembered how busy the city was during the day, but the intensity of tourists was so much higher.

St Mark's Square is the centre of Venice. This is the the drawing room of Europe and the only square named a piazza in Venice. All others are called campi. Here is where you go to get your shots feeding the famous pigeons of Venice.

Travel along the Grand Canal and there are numerous "fondaco" houses that date from the 13th to 18th Century. These were the houses of the rich merchants of Venice.

The houses were a combination of wharehouse and residence for the merchant.

From the canal the boats would have access to gounder the portico to unload. At this level, behind the portico would be storerooms. Typically at the back would be a courtyard.

Up above the canal on the first floor there is also a portico and this would let light into the merchant's room. The fondaco typically had a defense tower at each end. 

The scula di San Rocco dates back to 1478. We visited this school and remember being just overtaken with the artwork inside the building. There are two halls, one on each of the floors. The exterior of the building was started in 1515 and finished in 1549. The brotherhoods, or schools, were like guilds. This was no art club. There was strong religious aspedts and the members formed penance through self-flagellation. Sculoa Grande refers to the fact that this is one of the largest. There are seven different Suole Grandi and numerous Suole Minori.

Venice, Veneto, Italy, My Travels in Italy, Marcus Travel Journal

photo: mytravellinglens.com - More photos of Veneto and Venice

Venice, Veneto, Italy, My Travels in Italy, Marcus Travel Journal

photo: mytravellinglens.com - More photos of Veneto and Venice

Venice, Veneto, Italy, My Travels in Italy, Marcus Travel Journal

photo: mytravellinglens.com - More photos of Veneto and Venice

The Palazzo Ducale, is one of the most photographed buildings in Venice. A gothic palace, the building that stands today was primarily built between 1309 to 1424. This was the residence of the Doge and contained the offices of various institutions. The first floor held offices for lawyers, the Chancellery; the Censors and the Naval Offices. The second floor held the Grand Council chamber, the Ballot chamber and the Doge's apartments. The third floor has the impressive Sala del Collegio which is covered with with paintings. At the rear is the Bridge of Sighs - the small bridge that connects to the prison across a small canal. All a very interesting tour. Walk the town, enjoy the sights. Buy a day pass on the water bus system and you can ride to your hearts content seeing much.

There are four bridges that cross the Grand Canal, and this is the one with stunning architecture. The Rialto Market meant people had to get across the canal. The first bridge was a floating bridge. That was replacxed with a wood bridge in 1255.

The stone bridge that stands today was finished in 1591. There are two series of shops, one on each side.

 

Doge Palace, Venice, Vento, Italy, My Travels in Italy, Marcus Travel Journal

photo: mytravellinglens.com - More photos of Veneto and Venice

Verona

Verona is the second largest city of the Veneto Region, but it does not feel like an overly large city. We love being in Verona, not only because of a great pen store, but because of the comfortable feel of the city. There is the 1172 Lamberti tower which stands in the centre of the market scqure, the Piazza dell Erbe and a beautiful Romanesque Cathedral. I love the Piazza delle Erebe.

Yes it gets too hectic for me to visit Juliet's balcony. The last time we were there it was like a tourist madhouse!

If you arrive by train, Porta Nuova, it is about a 20 minute walk from the station to the historic centre - the area around Piazza Bra and the Roman Arena. You can travel from Venice in a little under an hour by train.

Vicenza

The impressive architecture of Vincenzaz reflects its importance under Venetia rule. Famous 16th C architect Andrea Palladio can ben seenh ere and thus the town holds designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site: City of Vicenza and the Palladian Villas of the Veneto. There is a compactr town centre and attractive villas and viewpoints in the hills a short walk from the town.

Most of the sidtes are found inside the old town walls. Walk along Viale Roma from the train stations. Bus Number 8 will take you for any trips outside the town. Inside the gate, the Corso Andrea Palladio is the city's main street with lots of shops and cafes. The large palaces are found on Contra Portia, which is on the left as you contine.

Piazza dei Signori is the heart of the town. There is the Basilica Palladian and the Torre di Piazza. The Teatro Olimpico, the last work of Palladio and finished by his son and Vincenzo Scamozzi.

We drove to Vincenza, and that year, our car was "upgraded" from a nice small vehicle that could drive on small streets to what I call, the bus - this massive van (there were four in our party) that was impossible to park in the small parking spots of Italian towns. We had to part further away from the centre than we would prefer, and it took me a time period to calm down from the stress of parking. But, once everything got to normal, I loved the city.