History and culture
A long journey into the history and culture of the Veneto
Some of the historic cities which most represent the past of the Veneto, each with its own unique character, each with its own magic and charm. From Lake Garda to the Adriatic, a journey which will leave a lasting impression, both for the places encountered and the relaxation offered.
Peschiera del Garda
Situated on the southernmost part of the lake, where the Mincio, Garda’s sole river, has its origins.
Peschiera, so-called due to the large quantities of fish (pesce) to be found in its waters, occupies a position at the intersection of diverse environment, and the area has been inhabited since ancient times.
It was during the Venetian period that the fortress and defensive city walls which characterise the city were erected, still preserved today: the embracing polygonal form was the work of many architects including Sanmicheli.
Today the city is among the best-equipped tourist centres of the Garda, in terms of both accommodation and with provisions for watersports.
Easily reached by train or road, it also offers many interesting diversions in the nearby surroundings: from the 16th century sanctuary of the Madonna della Frassino, site of a miracle, to Gardaland and the Parco Natura Viva, providing amusement for both young and old alike.
Marostica, Bassano del Grappa
MAROSTICA. From lake to mountains: this splendid city, proud member of the province of Vicenza, rises on the slopes of the Asiago plateau where every summer the fertile fields provide the famous red cherries.
The Scaligeri family are responsible for the most imposing fortified aspects of this historic town: the castle, the lower castle, and the connecting walls which ring the town.
The hub of life remains the piazza, which every other September hosts the celebrated human chess game, with players in period costumes enacting the courtly loves and intrigues of the15th century nobles Rinaldo d’Angarano and Vieri da Vallonata competing for the favours of Lionora, the beautiful daughter of the Castellano di Maròstica.
The lower castle which dominates the piazza is today home to the Comune, and contains the Sala delle Armi (Weapons Hall), the Sala del Governatore and Sala del Consiglio, with frescoes and a wooden choir dating from the 1700s.
BASSANO DEL GRAPPA. From the plain below we move up to the mountains to visit another historical centre of great charm and beauty: Bassano del Grappa.
This village (or better small town) boasts extremely ancient origins, though its present appearance presents mainly Medieval and Renaissance traits.
The central focus lies in the two squares of Piazza Garibaldi and Piazza della Libertà, home to S. Giovanni Battista and the Loggia del Comune, containing frescoes by the most important local artist, Jacopo da Ponte, known as Jacopo Bassano.
Moving on we encounter the 14th century church of San Francesco, the Palazzo Pretorio, the house of the Remondini family (famous local editors) and the Museo Civico, which offers one of the best exhibitions of the Veneto.
Next a visit to the symbol of the city, the Ponte Vecchio or Ponte degli Alpini, many times reconstructed though nevertheless always remaining faithful to the original 16th century Palladian plans, and the Ca’ Rezzonico, a villa from the Venetian domination famous for its stucco and pictorial decoration in which Canova had a hand.
Our final destination will be to encounter the crafts and gastronomic delights that Bassano is famous for: from ceramics to the renowned grappa liquor and white asparagus.
Riviera del Brenta
The Riviera del Brenta connects Padua with the lagoon of Venice by 36 km of beautiful and unique countryside.
The construction of a canal in this area began in the 16th century. The new waterway gave birth to a type of “bucolic civilisation”, echoes of which can still be felt today in the of the villa, the expanses of greenery and the wherries which are berthed here.
It was the Venetian nobility who, attracted to the countryside, built their houses here, thus initiating the so-called “villa culture”.
Only a few villas are today open to the public, though a visit along the river allows us to admire several. Many of the patrician residences, clothed in their immortal elegance, are focussed around the areas of Stra, Dolo and Mira.
Of these, we will visit Villa Foscarini Rossi, the first to be encountered on the road after the centre of Stra, and which was designed by Palladio; Villa Pisani, the most important, erected as a ducal residence and studded with frescoes including one by Tiepolo and with its famous maze in the vast gardens; Villa Widman at Mira; and finally, on the outskirts of Fusina, Villa Foscari, known as La Malcontenta, built according to a design by Palladio.
Known also due to its proximity to Sottomarina (the Roman Clugia Major), a principal destination for beach holidays, Chioggia is the second largest city of the lagoon. It possesses elegant architecture and priceless relics of its illustrious past at the side of Venice, the city which it resembles the closest.
Chioggia is a marine town, exhibited only too clearly in its bridges and alleys, and its fishmarket which makes it the centre of fishing par excellence of the Veneto sea.
Our visit takes us to the Duomo of Baldassare Longhena, the Granaio, San Nicolò, San Domenico with its Carpaccio, and Piazzetta Vigo with the statue of “El gato”: the 12th century monument showing a highly idiosyncratic representation of the lion of Saint Mark.
Rounding off our trip we can partake in the traditional cicheto and ombra (snack and drop of wine), watching the coloured boats sailing along the harbour.
A small fortified town in the green silence of the Euganean Hills with more than 2000 years of history, it appears to have magic remained in the Middle Ages.
Francesco Petrarch the poet spent the last years of his life here, and his body rests in a striking monument: a red marble arch from Verona of clearly pre-Christian inspiration, adorned with a 15th century bust of the poet.
Petrarch’s house remains of course the main attraction for the visitor to this cultural city.
The house has undergone several periods of restoration, and yet still preserves its original quiet and charm: the great poet’s chair, writing desk and library are still imbued with the spirit of his thought and immortal works.
Other noteworthy places for the visitor include the parish church, the oratory of the Holy Trinity, and the Loggia del Vicari.
SIXTH, SEVENTH AND EIGHTH DAY
The Euganean Spas.
The ideal way to round off our holiday, alternating culture with relaxation, sport and enjoyment.
The Veneto also means thermal spas: in fact the largest thermal field in Europe, and unquestionably the location where the culture of health and well-being has reached its highest level.
The Euganean Spas are situated a few km from Padua, and comprise the comunes of Abano (the record-holding spa in Italy, and consequently among the highest-quality resorts in Europe), Montegrotto (whose fame rests with Pliny the Elder), ), Galzignano, Battaglia and Teolo. This area represents the biggest thermal spa complex in Europe, as well as the oldest.
Of particular benefit is the curative mud which is drawn from the thermal waters originating in the Dolomites, and which spouts from underground at temperatures of 87oc.
However it is not only thermal spas: many other curative treatments are on offer, such as: balneotherapy in thermal pools, curative and weight-reducing massages, inhalations, aquagymnastics, esthetic and dietary treatment, diverse sports (three excellent golf clubs exist here: at Valsanzibio di Galzignano, Frassanelle di Rovolon, and Montecchia – Selvazzano Dentro), and many more, all under the strict control of highly-qualified personnel and medical staff.
We will not forget the Regional Park of the Euganean Hills either, which with its luxuriant nature, archaeological sites, medieval castles, fortresses and abbeys, aristocratic villas and gardens dating from the age of the Venetian Republic), and antique farmhouses, offers a vast array of inestimable treasures.
Sights not to be missed include: the castle of Catajo at Battaglia Terme, the Cini castle at Monselice, Villa Vescovi at Luvigliano, the gardens of Villa Barbarigo at Galzignano Terme, the abbey of Praglia and the Geopaleontological museum of Cava Bomba at Cinto Euganeo.
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