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.
The territory of Valpolicella near Verona is associated today with fine Bordeaux style wines produced by numerous cantine in this zone north west of the city as the image above highlights. Not by chance as the ancient name 'Val Polis Cellae' actually means 'the valley of many wine cellars'. Little has changed.
Today, this series of small valleys below the Monte Baldo and Lessini mountains still retain the perfect climate for wine making - spring rains, torrid summer heat and brisk autumn winds. Dispersed in the hills and valleys between are around 80 wine producers and 150 enoteche to get close to the wines.
It makes good sense that the most famous and spectacular festival of the year in Venice takes place along the Grand Canal. Even now the 'Regata Storica di Venezia' or historical regata is one of the most picturesque and moving events of Venetian life, capable of both charming the tourists and exciting the locals.
The very first regata took place on the 10 January 1315 and they were subsequently organised to celebrate military victories or to pay homage to distinguished foreign guests. This was the case of the welcome given to Caterina Cornaro, wife of the King of Cyprus, in 1489 after she renounced her throne in favour of Venice.
The Redentore or Redeemer Festival in Venice takes place on the Saturday preceding the 3rd Sunday of July and celebrates the construction of the church by Palladio to honour the Redentore 'Saviour' who freed Venice of a horrible plague in 1577. Ever since the Venetians celebrate this most famous of nights with an hour long firework display over the city.
A floating bridge is also constructed over the Giudecca Canal connect to the Redentore Church. Nowadays the bridge is no longer built of the traditional gondolas, but heavier barges to hold thousands of people as the sun sets over the city. It is one of Venice's most important events, always accompanied by joyful old songs and tradional Venetian food served from stalls along the waterfront.
Do make a visit to the impressive Venice Museo Storico Navale. Translated that's the Historical Naval Museum, a glimpse into the military past of the city. It is housed in the old 'granai' or granary of the Republic and is full of artefacts from the 16th to 18th centuries, as well as items from the Marina Italiana from 1860. Head to Riva S. Biasio in the Castello sestiero of Venice, not far from the Biennale Exhibition Halls and beside the old Arsenale.
It was no fun being held in the jails of Venice at the pleasure of the Doge of the Serenissima. And the visitor to Venice does not need much imagination during a tour of the Palazzo Ducale. For starters, the Sala della Cancelleria was Venice’s most secretive location and the equivalent of the CIA or ex KGB archives.
The route also takes in the Sala del Tormento, infamously named for its purpose of gaining confessions prior to prisoners learning their fate, and the inside of the Ponte dei Sospiri bridge from where a small door to leads to the infamous ‘Pozzi’ prison.
The following events in Venice represent great moments in the history of the lagoon Republic. Although now familiar tourism attractions, travelers are wise to appreciate the social and historical context of each.
A bit like the ancient games of the Colosseum, the Venice Carnival used to keep the popolo happy in times of diffculty or decadence. Carnival once extended for months, but what we see today was relaunched less than 30 years ago to recreate some of the old spirit of the city, at least visually, from the time of Casanova and Goldoni. Probably the best thing about Carnevale is that it takes place in February when the lagoon is at its most atmospheric and misty. All about the Carnival Masks of Venice.
The Venice Biennale or La Biennale di Venezia is undoubtedly Italy's most important international exhibitions of contemporary art. It began in 1895 and only happens in odd years (2015, 2017 etc) with up to 400,000 visitors attending from May to November.
The byeline is 'Art, Architecture, Cinema, Dance, Music, Theatre and Historic Archives' which also forms the menu for the official Biennale website (below). Together these themes have put the Biennale at the forefront of research and promotion of new contemporary art trends, exhibitions and research in each. The event should not be missed by anyone even remotely interested in art.
Chioggia is located at the southern most end of the Venetian lagoon and is a miniature Venice surrounded on all sides by the still, blue waters. Chioggia was always a convenient stop over for ancient lagoon traders and travellers moving between Ravenna and Grado in Friuli Venezia Giulia. As a result many pretenders fought for control of this strategic coastal center following the original Etruscan inhabitants.
It was the scene of the decisive conflict between the Marine Republics of Genova and Venezia in 1381. The two had fought for the best part of three years before the latter was eventually victorious. From that period look out for the Palazzo Comunale containing a 15th century table by Jacobello del Fiore, and the 12th century Duomo which still preserves its 13th century bell tower (image below).
The tortellini di Valeggio sul Mincio are celebrated in style every 18 June with the traditional 'Knot of Love' festival. The exact location is the Ponte Visconteo bridge (below) which impressively overlooks the idyllic hamlet of Borghetto Valeggio sul Mincio (main image).
Two huge tables of 600 meters are set up the length of the bridge at which 4000 diners are served dishes of local typical products, not least the famous tortellini. It all takes place in the evening and celebrates a legend of true love.