Veneto occupies the gap between the Dolomites and the Adriatic. To the east is the region of Friuli Venezia Giulia. The population of Veneto's largest city, Venice, is swollen with tourists. Veneto is Italy's fifth largest region in population, 8th in land area.
Most tourists don't get out of Venice unless they tour the Palladian villas stetched out along the Brenta riviera or have managed to stay on the east side of Lake Garda. The Veneto is an important wine country. Winter sports enthusiasts crowd into resorts like Cortina d'Ampezzo. The Po delta offers bird-watching and nature photography. Spas like the Terme Euganee (Euganean Spas) make you happy and pretty.
The map shows the major cities of the Veneto, which stretches from Lake Garda to the Adriatic. The orange line from Lake Garda to Venice (Venezia) represents the Autostrada A57, an extension of A4 that runs from Turin to Trieste. The main rail line from Turin to Trieste parallels this road. This makes the Veneto all the more convenient for a long vacation. Relax on the shores of Lake Garda, see opera or a play in the Verona Roman Arena, sip wine in the walled city of Soave, see Palladio's town Vicenza, discover the origins of modern medical practices in Padua, see the Palladian villas along the Brenta canal around Mira, and head into everyone's favorite canal city, Venice. All on a road or single train line. At the beginning and end of all this there are airports.
The chunk of land that juts into the Adriatic below Chioggia is the Po Delta. Great place to go if you like wetland parks and boat tours.
The Villa Foscari, called "La Malcontenta" stands near the Naviglio del Brenta, the navigable canal that connects Padua with Venice.
From here you head west along the canal, passing Oriago and Villa Allegri, to the clot of villas surrounding the town of Mira, the Barchessa Alessandri, Villa Bon Tessier, Eco Museo "Ad Mira Brenta" in Villa Principe Pio, the Barchessa Valmarana and the Villa Widmann, which has an information point for the villas. Heading toward Dolo, you'll pass the Villa Brusoni Scalella, Villa Tito, and Villa Badoer Fattoretto. Heading toward Stra, the first villa you come across is the one we recommend seeing, the Villa Nazionale Pisani is a stunner, the grandest of them all, containing one of Italy's more interesting gardens, including the hedge maze called the Labyrinth of Love. It's difficult. You can imagine lovers heading off with a bottle of Prosecco and getting romantically lost before the woman in the central tower spots them and tells them the way out. Yes, you can make use of her, too.
The villa Pisani has a mere 114 rooms, don't expect to visit them all. It's big enough for heavy-handed rulers: Napolean once owned the villa, and Hitler and Mussolini first met in person here in 1934.
Other villas in and around the town of Stra include the Villa Foscarini Rossi, the Villa Benzi Smania and the Villa Sagredo.
Looking for a hidden gem in the Veneto? Try Marostica. It has a fabulous central piazza, a strange one. You see, in the front, there's a checkerboard. Yes, Marostica is famous for a human game of chess played in front of 4,000 people in September.
Marostica has two castles. It is known for its cherries, which you can taste on the last Sunday in May during the Cherry Festival.
Chioggia is on the map because I like it. You can drive many of the streets there, even though, like Venice, it's got canals. At the heart of its historic center is a long piazza full of bars and restaurants, the Corso del Popolo. It's got a good vibe. It's also got a great, historic fish market. It's got lots to do:
Of course you can't talk about the Veneto without mentioning Venice. The colors of Venice might startle you. The fountain of free wine that fueled the famous boatmaking in the Arsenale will astound and amaze you ("At its peak, wine consumption for each worker seems to have peaked at 5 liters a day.") Think about it while you snack on the grilled Scallops or Moeche (Soft Shelled Crabs of Venice). Head to the Lido for a swim, or, at the right time, the Bienale di Venezia. Plan your trip: