Wednesday, 15 Apr 2015 - 12:34 pm
Seen in the early rose light of dawn, the tranquil rhomboid of Piazza San Marco seems like an impossible dream. At the heart of Venice, which in turn lies at the core of one of Italy’s most powerful regions, the square with its basilica, ducal palace and soaring bell tower, is an unforgettable sight. Countless lanes and canals weave around the world’s most unique medieval city, floating on a lagoon.
Beyond spreads the Veneto, for centuries the mainland treasure chest of the Venetian Republic and today one of Italy’s economic engines. Set aside a few days to behold Giotto’s extraordinary frescoes in Padua, the Palladian pleasures of Vicenza and the romance of riverside Verona. Plenty of smaller centres equally ooze charm, as does the countryside. With time, you could explore the hamlets, vineyards and valleys of the Valpolicella wine-making region, the tight medieval centre of Treviso (Benetton country) and the elegant home to grappa (Italy’s firewater), Bassano del Grappa. Explore hilltop beauties like Asolo and the castle of Soave, surrounded by vineyards. Further north, Belluno is the perfect base for spectacular hiking in the staggering eastern Dolomites.
The region’s cuisine is founded on rice and polenta. Risotto is cooked with almost everything the Veneto has to offer – from baby peas to baby crabs. The single most popular tipple is prosecco, a generic bubbly that flows freely in bars across the region, but most locals finish the day with a biting afternoon spritz – the classic Veneto apéritif, made of one part prosecco, one part soda and one part bitters (like Campari or the slightly sweeter Aperol). Cin cin!
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