The two shores of the Veneto
The hills of Giorgione and the sunset over the Delta: the magic of the region
A tour which touches the waters of Lake Garda and those of the Adriatic, combining also the mystical aspect of Asolo and the fantastic scenery of the Po Delta: an escape from mass tourism and a plunge into the relaxation of the Veneto.
FIRST AND SECOND DAY
Lago di Garda, Il Baldo, Malcesine,Torri del Benaco, Punta San Vigilio, Garda
LAKE GARDA. We begin our visit discovering the incredible environmental variety along the eastern shores of Lake Garda, along the so-called Riviera degli Olivi: a true marvel of the Veneto.
IL BALDO. Situated on the high ground which dominates the lake, Monte Baldo was known in the past as the “botanical garden of Europe” owing to its dense and variegated flora – olives, pine trees, oaks, oranges and palms.
Monte Baldo is the ideal summer location for walking in a fascinating natural environment, while winter transforms it into a ski resort par excellence.
After passing through this paradise our tour takes us on to Malcesine via the futuristic rotating cable car which allows a 360o view of the lake and surrounding area.
From here, the most northerly locality of the Veneto on the lake shores, we descend gradually down the lake, pausing in some of the best riviera towns: full of charm, and away from crowds of tourists.
MALCESINE. A charming locality, poised between mountains and lake, nature and history, with a splendid castle of ancient origin, reconstructed by the Scaligeri family in the 13th century.
We visit the narrow streets of the medieval centre, through the old gates leading to the 16th century Palazzo dei Capitani, and the 9th century church of Santo Stefano.
We stop in the Natural History Museum housed in a Scaliger fortress to view fascinating displays of geological, botanical and archaeological findings, together with a exhibition dedicated to the German poet Goethe, a famous admirer of this area.
After a wholesome typical meal of lake fish garnished with exquisite olive oil produced in the area, and the prized local wines, we depart for Torri dei Benaco.
TORRI DI BENACO. This town is one of the few remaining Garda localities which preserve the ancient Roman name of the lake. Originally called Castrum Turrium, or “Fortress of the towers”, it has a long tradition of being a fortified centre.
We will visit the Scaliger castle with its three crenellated towers (with an additional tower dating back to a previous construction of the 10th century) which dominates the town, and pay a visit to the Museo Civico inside the castle itself.
In the centre we can see the Medieval harbour surrounded by Venetian palazzi, and the church of SS. Trinità, the parish church of Santi Pietro e Paolo, and the church of San Giovani containing 14th-15th century frescoes.
PUNTA SAN VIGILIO. From Torri del Benaco we arrive at the most enchanting corner of the entire Veneto Riviera: Punta San Vigilio.
We continue along the road which leads to the parish church lined with cypresses, pausing at the Siren bay for the best photo opportunity of the lake; proceeding to the 16th century villa Guarienti, attributed to Sanmicheli, with its marvellous Italian-style gardens, and finally to discover the ancient church of San Vigilio, dating back to the 13th century, immersed in the charming citrus orchards, olive trees and cypress plantations.
GARDA. Thus we arrive at Garda. Already famed in the past, it gave its name to the entire sheet of water, substituting the previous Roman name Lacus Benacus. Guarda derives from the Germanic Warte, or “Guardian”.
Its wealth has always been based on fishing, a trade which still thrives today, and its tourist attraction was already established in the 1500s, with the construction of a multitude of holiday villas.
Entering the old town through the Clocktower we immediately encounter the magnificence of the 16th century Palazzo Fregoso.
Moving along we pass down the tree-lined street running along the lake: the Regina Adelaide, a street of rare beauty, embellished with sumptuous villas: Palazzo del Capitano, Villa Albertini and the Palazzo Carlotti with its Losa, the 16th century loggia.
Finally we visit the church of Santa Maria Maggiore, which houses a Carolingian dynasty ciborium and 15th century frescoes.
A tour of the “Joyful and Harmonious March”, and after a day spent in the hills at the foot of the Dolomites, where Asolo lies, offering a sumptuous emotional reward.
Natural panoramas go hand in hand with the artistic visions of Giorgione who centuries ago immortalised this countryside with his dreamlike curtains enveloping the real landscapes.
Our visit to Asolo passes through the Piazza Maggiore with its Renaissance fountain, the Loggia del Capitano which houses the Museo Civico, and the ancient Duomo, built over Roman ruins: its inside houses works by Lorenzo Lotto and Jacopo Bassano.
The fortress dates back to the period of Ezzelini rule and was restored at the end of the last century; it offers a fascinating walk through the surrounding hills.
Moving on to Borgo Castello we can observe the best of the Medieval period, while Borgo S. Caterina we can visit the house of the actress Eleonora Duse, where she spent the last years of her life.
We round off our tour with the Palladian Villa Barbaro at Maser.
We pass now to the other side of the Veneto, facing the Adriatic Sea, where art and culture combine with beach tourism of the highest quality.
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 most closely resembles.
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.
We Conclude our tour in the province of Rovigo, in the stupendous scenery of the area known as the Po Delta, a true marvel of nature: an “amphibious” region of more than 400km2 of land and water which is the largest natural park in Italy and the greatest humid zone in the whole of Europe.
Here we can observe rare species of flora and fauna, and witness the typical casoni, the rural houses with oversize chimneys which were the reference points for fishermen and guardians of the valley, all set within a highly delicate ecosystem of canals, marshes, lagoons, reed thickets and sand bars.
In brief: an exploration of an unspoilt world.
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