The heart of the Veneto region is a straight line due west from Venice taking in Padova and Verona before arriving at Lake Garda. We have more itineraries for you below.
While the celebrations of Carnival of Venice may be the most well-known among Italian carnivals, the more intimate festivities of Verona are considered to be some of the oldest in Italy, tracing their origins as far back as the 1500s.
According to legend, when a famine hit Verona in the early 16th century, the nobleman Tomaso Vico handed out gnocchi, the Italian pasta made of flour and potato, to the poor and starving citizens of the city. After he died, a tradition sprung up from his will, ordering that from then on gnocchi be distributed to the Veronese inhabitants every year on the last Friday of Carnival.
Turn yourself into a living piece of art for the annual Venice carnival in February. Buy a mask, put on a long cloak and wander through the early morning mists of the lagoon in mid winter. Also take lots of photos for disbelieving relatives back home. This is the best way to celebrate the carnival with the best backdrop in the world, Rio excepted.
Don't be fooled, however, by the limitless cheap carnival masks you see on sale. All have their origins in China and are not made of the traditional papier-mâché of old. There are still a handful of genuine mask makers in the city, but they no longer represent the majority of products on general sale. You have to ask for a mask made of 'cartapesta' and also view the links to Marega and Mondo Novo below.
Ever wonder, amid all the festivities, exactly why you’re celebrating Carnival? The word carnival actually derives from the Latin term Carnevale, meaning “farewell to meat”. Simply put, Carnival has come to represent a sort of ‘last hurrah’ before a long period of self-denial.
Although the holiday most likely began in pre-Christian times with the ancient Roman traditions of Saturnalia and Bacchanalia, Carnival is currently known as the days preceding the Christian period of Lent, consisting of forty days of fasting during which the consumption of animal products was strictly forbidden. As a result, universal feasts were held in order not to waste any perishable foods and drink that were about to be banned, releasing an euphoric atmosphere of giddy over-indulgence before the sober austerity that was about to descend.
Today’s most famous international Carnival traditions of parades and masquerade balls can be traced back to their origins in medieval Italy, unique practices that different geographical regions proudly uphold to this day, including extravagant masks in Venice, paper-mache floats in Sicily, and even orange throwing in Ivrea. Prime time to experience local events runs from mid-February to early March, and accommodations usually fill up quickly.
The city of Verona may be the most romantic place in Italy.
Not least, of course, for being the setting for William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, a tragedy of course and, in particular, the famous balcony where Juliet was won over by her Romeo.
Although the actual building dates from the 14th century, the balcony may just not, but who cares.
Over one million visitors to the spot make this one of the country's must visit attractions.
In the Spring of 2009, the balcony was in the news when the Verona authorities announced they were allowing couples to take their wedding vows here.
Bassano del Grappa is a picturesque town in Italy’s northeast corner in the province of Vicenza. Situated at the foothills of Mount Grappa, it is just one hour by train from Venice.
Bassano is always a great place to discover on your own, especially leading up to Christmas.
Firstly, walk the three piazzas, visit the covered bridge by Palladio and a stop off for a glass of grappa in one of the many shops offering a sip of the Christmas “Spirit”.
From mid November, Christmas is in full swing.
This classic Christmas cake from Verona needs a lot of finger work, so be prepared. Otherwise just buy it. No one goes without it in Italy during Christmas time. You can accompany the Pandoro with some custard or chocolate and it's with coffee or tea for breakfast.
Pandoro was officially invented by baker Domenico Melegatti in 1894. He trademarked the famous eight star pointed cake and his 'bread of gold' became immediately popular with rich Venetians. His inspiration may have been a local sweet called 'nadalin' from medieval times.
300g flour, 10g beer yeast, 80g sugar, 2 eggs, 3 yolks, 180g butter, 20g vanilla powder
The Strada del Vino Prosecco or Prosecco wine route was the first of its kind in Italy. It is 47 km long and winds around the hills or 'colli' of Conegliano, Feletto, Quartier del Piave and Valdobbiadene. This countryside, with its mild climate and ancient wine-making traditions, provides the ideal habitat for the vines that produce this delicious white wine famous throughout the world. Surprisingly, it has only been 100 years that the vineyards in this part of Treviso have been producing such a delicacy.