Venetia or Veneto: no matter how you call this beautiful region in the northeast of Italy, it is a paradise for bonvivants and culture lovers alike. Apart from its capital Venice, the stunning cities of Verona, Vicenza, and Padua are located here. History-charged cities, lush vinyards, woods, and mountains. And many friendly and hospitable people. Prosecco instead of mulled wine, green meadows instead of snow fields, gondolas instead of chairlifts: myAustrian fans Nicola and Stephan love Veneto and tell us their favourite ways to escape Winter.
Austrian Airlines takes you to Venice three times a day, and it’s just about an hour. If you want to discover the city and its lagoons as authentically as possible, hop on the Vaporetto No. 1 from the Piazzale Roma. This water bus goes along Canale Grande all the way to the Lido and offers breathtaking views of Palazzi and Co. Since we found ourselves in the midst of the Christmas rush hour, squeezed in between Italian mammas with big hair and even bigger bags filled with Panettone, presents, and panini, we cut our trip short and decided to experience this probably most picture-perfect of all cities on foot. After enjoying a hearty snack on a sunny bench on the Riva degli Schiavoni, we headed back to the bustling tourist hotspots Piazza San Marco and Ponte Rialto.
From Venice, it just takes about 40 minutes by car or train to get to Padua which took our hearts by storm. It is one of Italy’s oldest cities, Galileo Galilei was a lecturer at its university. Still, the large number of young people – the Università degli Studi di Padova still draws students from around the world – infuses the city with energy and panache. Combine this with the stunning architecture, lively markets, and picturesque little alleys which keep surprising you by opening up to pretty squares, turn every stroll into a feast for the eyes. We lived directly by the Prato della Valle which, with its 90.000 m2, is the third largest square in Europe. From there it is just a short walk to Via Roma with its various shops, bars, and restaurants, the Basilica di Sant’Antonio, one of the most important Catholic sacred sites in Italy, or the Palazzo della Ragione.
If you only visit one cultural sight in Padua, make it the Capelle degli Scrovegni. This is the 13th century chapel for which Giotto painted his world famous fresco. We suggest you to take up the challenge (and a challenge it is 😉 ) to book your ticket online in advance, since the number of attendants is strictly limited to conserve the climate in the chapel. First you get to see an interesting short film about the Capella’s history and details about the artwork. This way you are free to just look in awe at the jaw-dropping frescos for 20 minutes. A friendly guide answers all your questions – if you understand Italian. Afterwards, visitors are invited to visit the adjacent museum. This is where it got really fun and almost dream-like for us (in the best possible way): it felt like we were the only people there. After a while we thought that we had seen enough and went to look for an exit. But every time we thought we had found a way out, a supervisor appeared seemingly out of nowhere and led us in a friendly, yet assertive way, with words such as “molto interesante” or “belissima”, to the next highlight. This way we worked ourselves through a breathtaking collection of invaluable works of art spanning at least 5 centuries. What an amazing experience!
Treviso: from the Stada del Prosecco to Monte Grappa
Another one and a half hour drive and you are right in the middle of beautiful Valdobbiadene. This is the home of the Prosecco grape and the Italian Grappa and they must be worshiped appropriately! Luckily, this is easy: the Strada del Prosecco goes from Conegliano to Valdobbiadene and is 33km long.
Discover it with your palate by visiting the wineries and restaurants. In terms of quality, you can’t really go wrong here. We can even recommend a pizza place called “Hollywood”! It is in Santo Stefano and you can enjoy a beautiful view of the vinyards along with your meal.
Or do as the Italians do and take a bike tour. On weekends and holidays you can spot Italian men, decked out in the latest gear, racing each other on their shiny bikes. If you want to raise your glasses to each other whilst doing so, we suggest the Azienda Agricola Campion. It is a family farm that offers not only most yummy prosecco, but also 4 cozy rooms, lovingly guarded by their dogs Asti and Jacky. And by a white horse whose name has slipped our minds.