cover-pic09The Basilica of Saint Anthony of Padua (Sant'Antonio da Padova) is the largest church in Padua, Italy. Although the Basilica is visited as a place of pilgrimage by people from all over the world, it is not the titular cathedral of the city, a title belonging to the Duomo. The basilica is known locally as "il Santo".  Deconstruction of the Basilica probably began around 1235, nineteen years after the death of St. Anthony. It was completed in 1301 although several structural modifications (including the falling of the ambulatory and the construction of a new choir screen) took place between the end of the 14th and the mid 15th century. The Saint, according to his will, had been buried in the small church of Santa Maria Mater Domini, probably dating from the late 12th century beside a convent that was founded by him in 1229.

La Basilica di Sant'Antonio a Padova, conosciuta dai padovani semplicemente come il Santo, è la più importante chiesa della città e una delle più grandi e visitate al mondo. Non è comunque la cattedrale patavina, titolo che spetta al duomo. In essa sono custodite le reliquie di sant'Antonio di Padova.  La piazza antistante ospita lo splendido monumento equestre al Gattamelata di Donatello. Donatello realizzò anche le sculture bronzee (crocifisso, statue e formelle di varie dimensioni) che il Boito ha collocato sull'altare maggiore da lui progettato. La costruzione della basilica comincia probabilmente già nel 1232, un anno dopo la morte di sant'Antonio da Padova, e si protrae fino al 1310. Modifiche all'assetto della Basilica si prolungano fino al XV secolo, con un forte impulso dopo l'incendio e conseguente crollo di un campanile nel 1394. I lavori del XV secolo includono il rialzamento del deambulatorio e il riassetto del coro, con la costruzione di una nuova cortina. Il corpo del santo era stato sepolto, come da suo desiderio, nella chiesetta di Santa Maria Mater Domini, accanto al convento da lui fondato nel 1229.

veneto-stemmaVENETO -  also known as "Happy Veneto" for its good-natured, unsophisticated, hospitable, hard-working inhabitants. La Serenissima and La Dominante, all allure to a feminine nature.  Venice is a city where physical contact is unavoidable.  People literally bump into one another in its narrow alleyways, on the bridges crossing the canals, on the lanes along the canals, and in the conspiratorial darkness of a portico, which is perhaps why Casanova decided to be born there.

HISTORY - The Euganei Hills and the plains of the Veneto were settled in prehistoric times, at least as far back as the Paleolithic era. The region was later inhabited by other tribes: the Veneti from eastern Europe, the Rhaetians from western Europe, and the Etruscans from Central Italy. The Veneti controlled the whole region until the advent of the Romans who gradually colonized it starting in the 2nd-lst century B.C. The Roman period was particularly positive for all the Veneto cities. They prospered on trade thanks to an efficient network of roads, land reclamation, ports, and other public works, all of which carried out by the Romans. During the 4th and 5th centuries, Aquileia became the main religious center of the local church. At the same time, however, the region was forced to defend herself from constant attacks of the barbarians whose arrival meant death and destruction. Following the long period of Ostrogoth domination, in the 6th century the Veneti succumbed to the Byzantines and then to the Longobards who occupied the whole mainland area, while the Byzantines remained ensconced along the coast. In the 10th century Veneto was split up into a host of little fiefdoms. In the cities, however, following a brief period of church domination, a commune movement was born, gradually gained momentum, and finally reached its apex in the 12th century when the communes of Verona, Padua, Treviso, and Vicenza joined together to form the so-called Veronese League. At the same time, albeit in a completely different way, Venice was beginning to make great strides economically and politically. First wholly under the control of the emperor of the Orient, then gradually attaining more and more independence, Venice ultimately became a republic ruled by a doge rather than a commune. Culturally and artistically, she was more influenced by the east and the sea as opposed to the west and terra firma. In the 14th century, the Veneto underwent the same political process that was taking place in many other regions of Italy: the communes gave way to the Signorie or lords, e.g., the Carraresi in Padua, the Scaligeri in Verona, and the Caminesi in Treviso. Once they had firmly taken control, the great Signorie set about extending their territories. The ensuing wars brought about the intervention of the Venetians - until that time completely removed from matters involving the mainland - who felt it better to nip in the bud any possible threat arising from powerful enemies at their borders. The Venetians soon managed to conquer both the Veneto and Friuli (1420),relinquishing their control only in the late 18th century. The 15th through 18th centuries were intense for the Venetians: they grew richer and richer on trade and commerce, defeated the Turks in battle, constantly renewed their attempts at territorial expansion at the expense of their neighbors, and staunchly defended their mainland possessions from outside threats. In the 18th century, however, trade began to level off. In 1797 the great Sea Republic of the Serenissima fell to Napoleon's army, and her territories were annexed to Austria with the French emperor's consent. Attempts to oust the foreign powers were common occurrences in the course of the 19th century. Finally, in 1866, the region, once more free and independent, adhered to the Kingdom of Italy. A number of decisive battles were fought in the Veneto during World War I, among them the famous stands at Mt. Grappa and Piave. Modern-day Veneto is a prosperous region. It excels in agriculture (e.g., livestock, poultry, wheat, fruit, beets, and grapes are its mainstays), as well as industry (textiles at Schio and Vicenza, chemicals and metalworking in Porto Marghera and Mira, and shipbuilding). Fishing is another important economic resource. Finally, there is tourism, which attracts millions of people every year.

winged-lion-st-markART - The most important Roman remains in Veneto are in Verona (i.e., the Arena). During the Middle Ages, the clear-cut division of the territory into mainland and coastal cities had a great impact on its art: whereas the former were increasingly exposed to Longobard and then Emilia-Romagna influxes, the latter (e.g., Venice & Torcello) came under the sphere of influence of the Orient, which meant the predominance of the Ravennate-Byzantine style. During the 12th-14th centuries, the prevailing style in Padua, Verona, and Vicenza was Romanesque and then Gothic, while Venice was in the throes of creating her own very personal fusion of Byzantine, Romanesque, and Gothic (best revealed in the Basilica of San Marco and the Palazzo Ducale). During this period, Italy's foremost painters (Giotto, Altichiero, Giusto de'Menabuoi, Pisanello, and Tommaso da Modena) were active in the inland centers. In the 15th century the Renaissance came to Veneto. Tuscan masters such as Paolo Uccello, Donatello, Filippo Lippi, Andrea del Castagno, and the great Sicilian, Antonello da Messina, worked in the region, influencing exponents of the local schools, such as Mantegna in Padua. Venetian art, especially architecture, remained under the sway of the Gothic until the end of the 15th century. The period that followed, however, turned out to be one of the most exciting in European art, as the Bellinis, Carpaccio, and Giorgione broke with the Byzantine tradition and created a new style, the forerunner of the great Venetian colorism of the 16th century. During the glorious1500s, in fact, Titian, Tintoretto, and Veronese, each in his own inimitable way, dominated Italian painting. These masters created the Venetian school, where effect is conveyed primarily through color, as opposed to the Central Italian school (e.g., Leonardo, Raphael) where line and drawing predominate. In architecture, Palladio was the unchallenged master, designing incomparably beautiful villas and churches in every corner of the region. Veneto produced great artists right into the18th century. Among the best known are the painters Piazzetta, the Longhis, the Tiepolos, Guardi, Canaletto, and the great neo-Classical sculptor, Antonio Canova, whose apprenticeship was spent in Venice.

MUSIC - A number of Italy's great musicians hailed from Venice, which was also the first European city to throw opera open to a wide public by establishing public opera houses in the first half of the 17th century.

CUISINE - Veneto's cuisine, like her art, has two facets, one closely linked to the sea and the other firmly tied to the land. Two dishes, however, baccalà (cod) and polenta (yellow cornmeal) are common to both. Polenta is ground differently according to city (the finest-ground is to be found in the Vicenza region) and is eaten alone or as a side dish with osei (game birds), fried fish, liver, stews, cuttlefish, and cod. Cod is a specialty of Vicenza, Padua, and Venice. In Venice, it is called baccalà mantecato. The cod is mashed and served as a kind of paté. The most popular rice dishes are risi e bisi (with peas), risi e Iuganeghe (with sausage), risi e bisato (with eel), risi e la sbira (with chicken livers), and risotto nero (with cuttlefish). Other popular first courses are bigoli (dark colored pasta), panada (broth and bread crumbs), and pasta e fasioi (bean soup with pasta). The most popular Venetian main courses traditionally revolve around fish. Among the most common are rayfìsh, bass, eel, sarde in saor (sardines marinated in a vinegar and onion sauce and fried). Mollusks are especially popular, among which granceolo (giant crabs served in their shells with oil and lemon). Meat entrees include fegato alla veneziana (liver and onions, Venetian style), roast pork, chicken alla padovana (chicken cut into pieces with a sauce made of onion, egg, and flour, Paduan style) pastisada (beef or horsemeat marinated and then stewed). Game is also popular: duck, quail (lagoon and plains), as well as hare and partridge (Dolomite region). Radicchio (red lettuce from Treviso) and fruit (peaches from Monselice). There are several famous desserts, including Pandoro from Verona, fritole (fried cakes), baicoli (Venetian cookies) and the famous tiramisu. The Veneto region is also famous for its wines. The best known are Valpolicella, Soave, Recioto, and Bardolino from the Verona area, Prosecco from Conegliano, and Raboso from the Treviso and Piave areas. Another specialty is an after-dinner drink called, grappa which originally was made in the town of Bassano del Grappa.

venezia-stemmaVENICE - has been known as the "City Built on Water" "La Dominante", "Serenissima", "Queen of the Adriatic", "City of Water", "City of Bridges", and "The City of Light". "Venice pleases me as much as I expected, and I expected much." Byron 1816

Venice is universally acclaimed one of the world's most beautiful cities. It is certainly one of the most unusual - not only for its fairy tale lagoon setting, but also because its history and art have contributed to making it totally unique and irreproducible. The buildings which appear so delicately suspended above the water are strictly earthbound. They are built on hundreds of islets and firmly reinforced by huge pylons sunk into the ground. The canals which separate the islands are the equivalent of our everyday roadways - with the Grand Canal as Main Street. Once you get used to the idea of a city on water, you are struck by the unusual Venetian architecture. To understand how it got this way you will have to know a little of the fascinating history of Venice. The area it stands on was a fishermen's village by the Roman era. Not until the Middle Ages, however, did it became a clearly defined political and social entity, when it came under the Byzantine sphere of influence, as opposed to the mainland cities which were dominated by the Longobards. In the 9th century, when most of Italy was under Frankish control, Venice embarked on a new form of government, i.e., a duchy headed by a duke (Doge, in Venetian dialect) and backed by the local nobility. Having severed all ties with the Empire of the East, she enjoyed a centuries-long era of prosperity and glory: the Serenissima stood out as a leader in sea trade (especially with the Orient) and in culture. Her artistic development was totally unique. Her mixed Eastern-Western background made her a meeting place for two different cultural heritages. She never went through a feudal period, nor did she exist as a city-state. Rather, the Venetian form of government was that of an aristocratic republic - in itself unique for it's times - the doge elected and aided by counselors. The great wealth amassed thanks to the business acumen of the Venetian traders (among them Marco Polo one of the first Westerners to visit China - in the 13th century), was a prime factor in sparking a great building boom. The churches, foremost of which San Marco, monasteries, and palaces of the medieval period are a stunning combination of delicate Gothic tracery and Byzantine colorism. Venice reached the height of political and economic power during the 15th and 16th centuries. She managed to greatly expand her territories on the mainland and was successful in defeating the Turks in battle. At the same time, Venetian art was thoroughly revolutionizing Italian painting: the Bellinis, Carpaccio, Giorgione, Titian, Tintoretto, and Veronese were active during these years. Then, in the 17th and 18th centuries, as Venice found herself crushed by the new European powers, decline, both economic and political, began to set in. In 1797 she was annexed to Austria and did not regain her independence until 1866 when she adhered to the Kingdom of Italy. These vicissitudes have left their mark on every facet of the city, tradition being very much part of Venetian life (i.e., the Feast of the Savior in July and the Regata Storica, the historic boat race run the first Sunday in September). Present-day Venice also hosts important cultural events such as the Biennale d'Arte and the annual Venice Film Festival.

GRAND CANAL - This is Venice's "Main Street."  At more than 2 miles long, nearly 150 feet wide, and nearly 15 feet deep.  It is the biggest canal with the most impressive palaces.  The canal is the remnent that once spilled from the mainland into the Adriatic.  The sediment it carried formed barrier islands that cut off the sea, forming the lagoon.  Venice was built on the marshy islands of the former delta, sitting on pilings driven nearly 15 feet into the clay.  About 25 miles of canals drain the city dumping like streams into the Grand Canal.  Heavily trafficked by vaporetti, gondolas, and craft of every size and shape, the canal is a unique sight, its banks lined with an incredible parade of medieval palaces and churches. The candy cane posts are used for mooring  boats on the canal.

st-marks-basilicaST. MARK'S BASILICA - This is Venice's crown jewel.  It is a spectacular fusion of gold mosaics on marble walls and rooftop balconies. In 828 the mortal remains of St. Mark the Evangelist were brought to Venice from Alexandria, Egypt. On this occasion it was decided to build a church worthy of containing such a precious relic, and one befitting a burgeoning city anxious to show off its wealth and grandeur. Most of the building of the grandiose basilica took place between the 11th and 15th centuries. The result is a harmonious blend of Byzantine gilding, Gothic gables, Romanesque round arches, and Islamic domes, styles that in turn dominated such a long period and proof of Venice's unique eclectic and "international" approach.

DOGES' PALACE - The stunning combination of delicate Gothic tracery, pointed arches, and patterned stonework makes the building appear light and airy, almost as if it were weightless. The palace was built in the 9th century as the doges' residence, and then altered several times by famous architects such as the Dalle Masegnes, Rizzo, and Da Ponte. Its present appearance dates from the 16th century. The magnificent halls of the interior still have their original ornamentation, furnishings, paintings, and sculpture.

ST MARK'S SQUARE - This square is a magnificent expanse of light, space, architectural harmony, and pigeons.   Originally, San Marco was a grass-covered open space traversed by a canal and bounded on either of its short sides by a church (San Teodoro and San Gemignano). Subsequent transformations and embellishments made it into one of the most beautiful squares in the world, or, as Napoleon himself so aptly put it, the world's loveliest drawing room. Today it is bounded by buildings on all four sides. On the east is the Basilica and on the west, the Ala Napoleonica (early 19th century). The long buildings on the north and south are the Procuratie, which served as the living and working quarters of the famous Procuratori (magistrates). Two other important features complete the square: its attractive geometric paving, which dates from the 18th century, and two towers, the Belltower and the Clock Tower. The Museo Correr occupies the upper floor of the Procuratie Nuove.

BELLTOWER"Naked and right like a mast of ship, the gigantic bell tower reaches the sky and from a distance announces the old royalty of Venice to the travelers of the sea." Hippolyte Taine - translated from A Venise, voyage en Italie 1864.  The 96m brick campanile provides one of the best elevated views of the city.  It originally served as a watchtower and lighthouse.  Built in the 9th-10th centuries and rebuilt by Bartolomeo Bon in 1511, the Belltower was completely reconstructed after an earthquake toppled it in 1912.

rialto-bridgeRIALTO BRIDGE - This architectural structure was named after Rivo Alto, the first colony in Venice. This is the oldest, loveliest, and best known of the three bridges spanning the Grand Canal. Originally built of wood the bridge collapsed in the 1500s.  Antonio da Ponte designed the stone structure, where strips of boutiques separate a wide central lane from two side passages with picture-perfect views. He terminated the project in 1592. The Rialto spans the Grand Canal at its narrowest point (28meters), stands 7.5 meters at its center, and is reinforced by 6,000 pylons sunk into the ground at either end.

CLOCK TOWER - The 24 hour clock indicates the hour, lunar phase and ascending constellation. The tower, comprising an arched opening surmounted by a 15th century clock, a sculpture of the Virgin and Child set in a niche and a statue of the Lion of St. Mark, was built by Mauro Codussi in 1496. Above are the famous bronze figures, i Mori, that have been sounding the hours in Venice since 1497, and on either side of the Virgin's niche, two doors that open for the passage of figures of the Magi on the Feast of the Ascension. Above the dial is the world's first digital clock, which changes every five minutes.

BRIDGE OF SIGHS -  Connecting the Doges' Palace and the dungeons, is one of the most renowned sights in Venice. Built by Antonio Contini in the 17th century, it is a remarkably graceful Baroque structure. Inside, there are two levels of corridors whose only light comes from windows covered by stone tracery. The sighs in the bridge's name are probably a reference to the unhappy sighs of the prisoners being led to the dark dungeons.  It used to be called the Prisoner's Bridge until the romantic poet, Lord Byron, renamed it in the 19th century.  From this bridge, the convicted got their final view of sunny, joyous Venice before entering the dark prisons.

SAN GIOVANNI E PAOLO - Dubbed the "Pantheon of Venice", this is the final resting place of Venice's Doges and heroes. This church is a sample of Gothic architecture in Venice, complete with soaring façade and five apses.  No fewer than 25 Doges are buried here.

pantaloon-harlequinPANTALONE - This stock character is classified as one of the vecchi (old men) in Commedia dell'arte. He is a miserly and often libidinous character who is portrayed as a Venetian and often speaks in the Venetian dialect. He traditionally wears a large codpiece to advertise his virility with a mask with a long hooked nose, a tight red vest, red breeches and stockings, a black cassock, slippers, brimless hat and a money pouch on his belt.

GALLERIA CA' REZZONICO - This gallery located in a Gothic palazzo on the Grand Canal has a very interesting collection of antique furniture, paintings & contemporary art.

PINACOTECA QUERINI STAMPALIA - This museum building, the 16th century Palazzo Querini Stampalia, houses the collection bequeathed to the city in the 19th century, by Count Giovanni Querini Stampalia. There is an important library on the ground floor.

SANTA MARIA GLORIOSA DEI FRARI - The most Gothic of the Venetian churches, was built between1330 and 1340 on the site of a pre-existing building, but not consecrated until 1492. The project was carried out by Franciscan monks (frani), and, in keeping with the Franciscan tradition of simplicity, the building is extremely plain and stately. Like SS. Giovanni e Paolo, many illustrious Venetians are buried inside.

SAN ROCCO - The original church designed by Bartolomeo Bon in the 15th century was rebuilt in the 18th century by Scalfrotto. The aisleless interior is adorned with marvelous paintings by Tintoretto depicting scenes from the life of St. Roch, the patron saint of plague victims.

PALAZZO REZZONICO - The impressive main facade of the palace faces out on the Grand Canal. The ground-floor level is faced in rusticated stone, while the upper levels consist of great windows separated by semi-columns, each delineated by a horizontal railing. Work on the project was begun by Baldassarre Longhena in 1660 and terminated by Giorgio Massari in the18th century.

SANTA MARIA DELLA SALUTE - The "salute" (Italian for "health") is a hallmark of the Venetian skyline.  The church and its domes are visible from everywhere in the city. The Senate of the Repubblica di Venezia deliberated building of the church in 1630 in thanksgiving for the end of a plague epidemic. Longhena, who was awarded the commission, brilliantly overcame numerous practical problems relating to land slippage by reinforcing the dome drum with the esthetically pleasing curlicews that make the building so distinctive and unusual. The church has an octagonal plan, two domes, and faces out on the Grand Canal.

IL REDENTORE - The church, situated on the Isle of Giudecca, was built, like Santa Maria della Salute, in thanksgiving for the ending of a plague epidemic. Palladio and Antonio da Ponte, worked on the project between 1577 and 1592.

ca_doroCA' D'ORO -  "Golden Palace" (named for the gold leaf used in the frescoes that once covered the façade) is regarded as one of the most beautiful palazzi on the Grand Canal in Venice. In 1922 the palazzo was bequeathed to the State by its last owner and saviour Baron Giorgio Franchetti who had acquired it in 1894. It was bombed in 1944 and rebuilt in 1950.  Today it houses the Galleria Giorgio Franchetti.

SAN GIORGIO MAGGIORE - The church, situated on the Isle of San Giorgio across the lagoon from San Marco, is a 10th century building remodeled by Palladio in the second half of the 16th century. Adjoining the elegant church, with its striking white marble facade and soaring bell tower, is a brick complex, once a monastery and now an important cultural organization.

SAN LAZZARO DEGLI ARMENI - In the 12th century this little island, now the property of the Benedictine order, was a leper colony. Thereafter, it was uninhabited for many centuries, until 1717 when a community of Armenian monks, kicked out of their country by the Turks, made it their home. Today, it is center of Armenian culture, replete with a well-stocked library and print shop.

murano-glasswareMURANO - The islets on which Murano rises were first settled during the Early Middle Ages by people fleeing the barbarians. Around the 10th-11th centuries it became one of the major lagoon centers. The tradition of glass-blowing, still the basis of the city's great renown, dates back to that period, although it received its greatest boost in the 12th century when the Venetian government decreed that all the glass kilns then in Venice should be moved to Murano for safety's sake. The Museo Vetrario (Glass Museum) houses a collection that begins with funeral urns from the first century and ends with pieces like an ornate model garden made entirely of glass.

LIDO DI JESOLO - An elongated island in the Venetian lagoon and the loveliest beach in the Venice area.  This Lido is a main attraction because of its wealth of hotels and modern bathing establishments which offer tourists an endless variety of activities, sports and entertainment, from riding stables to tennis courts, from swimming pools to water slides to fine restaurants, casinos and discos for the night life. The Venice Film Festival is held here every year. This Lido provided the tragic setting for Death in Venice, Thomas Mann's haunting novella of love and lust.

carnival-mask-croppedCARNEVAL OF VENICE - This famous Carneval was successfully reinstated in the early 1970's. It is Venice's largest festival.  It takes place each spring in the period between Epiphahy (January 6th) and Mardi Gras, a day before lent begins.  The latin words carne vale, meaning "farewell or good bye to meat."  No meat is eaten during the 40 days of lent.  During the final days of lent, thousands of masked and costumed revelers meet at the city square. Over 500,000 people take part at these festivities.

ISOLA DI SAN PIETRO - This island is one of the most picturesque spots in the city. As San Pietro was the first seat of Venice's bishop and thereafter patriarch, the church of San Pietro di Castello retained its standing as a cathedral until 1807. Founded in the 8th century, it was rebuilt several times. Of the notable artworks inside, perhaps the most interesting is the St. Peter's Throne, crafted in the Middle East.

BURANO - This is the most postcard-pretty island in the entire lagoon.

Burano was founded by refugees from the barbarian invaders on the mainland. A delightful little town with pastel-colored fishermen's houses lining the canals, it is renowned for its handcrafted laces and embroidery. The skill of the lace makes is proverbial.  According to legend, a Venetian sailor gave his sweetheart a piece of beautiful seaweed picked up on his long sea journeys. In order to preserve the gift, the girl reproduced it with thread, copying its outlines in minute details.  Thus, lacework was born.

TORCELLO - This tranquil little island, today partially uninhabited, was once a mighty urban center and Venice's major rival. It was founded in 452 by refugees from the mainland city of Altino and by the 7th century had become an important bishopric. One devoté was Ernest Hemingway who spent long periods living and working on Torcello.

SAN MICHELE - This walled cemetery island of Venice, is attractively landscaped, with tall cypress trees and a 15th Century church with a cloister that leads to the cemetery.

gondola-rideTHE GONDOLA - "The Love Boat" or "Queen of the Canals"  is one of the symbols of Venice and was first conceived to transport goods.  They were once displays of multicoloured brilliance.  Legend has it that their reds and purples turned to black when the plague stuck.  A more likely story is that in the 17th century city ordinance ordered that all boats be painted black to prevent noble families from waging gondola-decorating wars.   Today there are over 500 gondolas reserved solely for tourists and lovers (plus a few equipped as ambulances).

bellini1HARRY'S BAR - This world famous bar-restaurant on the Grand Canal in Venice was founded in 1931 by Giuseppe Cipriani, with financing from a Bostonian named Harry.  Ernest Hemingway put this bar on the map by making it his hangout in the late 1940's. Humphrey Bogart, Aristotle Onassis, opera singer Maria Callas and British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill were some famous regulars. The famous "Bellini", a drink made with white peach puree and prosecco, was invented at Harry's Bar. Carpaccio, an appetizer, was also reputed to have originated here.

PEGGY GUGGENHEIM COLLECTION - The Peggy Guggenheim Collection is a museum of 20th century avant-garde art displaying masterpieces collected by the American heiress Peggy Guggenheim (1898-1979) between 1938 and 1947 in London, Paris and New York, and then brought to Venice for the first time for the 1948 Venice Biennale. In the same year, Peggy Guggenheim bought Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, an unfinished Grand Canal palace attributed to the architect Lorenzo Boschetti (1749), where she lived for 30 years and where from 1951 she opened her house as a museum. The collection was devoted to modern art with masterpieces ranging in style from Cubism and Surrealism to Abstract Expressionism.  The collection has become one of the most respected and visited cultural attractions in Venice.

SAN MARCUOLO - The gray Turkish "Fondaco" Exchange is considered the oldest house in Venice.  Its horseshoe arches and roofline of triangles-and-dingleballs are remainders of its Byzantine heritage.  Turkish traders docked here, unloaded their goods into the warehouses on the bottom story, then went upstairs for a homestyle meal and a place to sleep.  Venice in the 1500's was very cosmopolitan welcoming every religion and ethnicity.

chipiloVENETIANS IN CHIPILO (PUEBLA, MEXICO) - When you pass through Chipilo, Mexico (about one hundred miles outside Mexico City), you might mistake it for Veneto, Italy. The people of Chipilo are called chipileños in Spanish, or cipilegni in Venetian. Chipilo was founded on October 2, 1882, by immigrants from the northern Italian region of Veneto. In 1882, a group of five hundred people from the villages of Segusino, Belluno and Feltre set out for their new home in Mexico. They were given land to settle in the state of Puebla, on what had once been the Hacienda de Chipiloc. Perhaps because it sounded more Italian, the settlers dropped the final “c” and called their town Chipilo. Here they began farming and ranching and, with the expertise brought from their native Veneto, established a thriving dairy industry. The cheese and butter from this area are famous all over Mexico, and “Chipilo” is one of the country’s best-selling brands of butter and cream.  Here the language called Venet, continues to be spoken, along with Spanish, even generations after the first immigrants arrived. People tend to marry within the town, and the same names have been passed on for over 120 years, as have the family recipes. In 1982, the townspeople of Chipilo celebrated the 100th anniversary of the foundation of the city along with visitors from the Veneto region. In this celebration the city of Segusino, Italy, was declared Chipilo’s twin city.

belluno-stemmaBELLUNO - Citta Splendente (shining city), as it is often called, may have derived its name from the Celtic words belo-dunum, meaning splendid city. It is attractively encircled by mountains, looks down on the confluence of the Rivers Ardo and Piave, and constitutes the gateway to the Veneto Dolomites. Situated on the Piave River, Belluno was settled before the Roman era. It achieved considerable importance during the Middle Ages, first as a Longobard and Frankish center, and then as a mighty bishopric and Commune. It fought staunchly against Treviso and Venice, although it fell to Venice and remained a Venetian possession from the 15th through 18th centuries. When the Austrians were driven out of Italy, it adhered to the Kingdom of Italy, and has since been Italian (except from1943 to 1945, when it was forcibly annexed to Germany). The richness of the province of Belluno are the Dolomites which include the most important mountains in the alpine arch: Tre Cime di Lavaredo, Marmolada, Tofane, Pelmo, Civetta, Cinque Torri, Cristallo, Sorapis, Focobon, Agner, Nuvolau and Averau. While Italian is predominantly spoken in the zone, there are pockets where the language has significant German influence.

DUOMO DI BELLUNO - The Duomo (Cathedral, late 15th century), with the 18th century bell tower was designed by Filippo Juvarra. The church's plan is attributed to the Venetian architect Tullio Lombardo.

PALAZZO DEI RETTORI - This palace, built between the end of the 14th century and the beginning of the 15th, is the seat of the Prefectus, the offices of the representative of the Italian government.

ALPE DI NEVEGAL - This is an important mountain resort both in summer and in winter. A chairlift links the Alps to Mt. Faverghera, the Botanic Gardens and Col Visentin.

PIEVE DI CADORE - This comune gave birth to Tiziano Vecellio and to all his family of painters. In the center of the town, there is Tiziano square, with a bronze statue of the artist, made by Antonio Dal Zotto (1880). There is also the Building of the Magnificent Community of Cadore (Palazzo della Magnifica Comunità di Cadore), rebuilt in 1525 to replace the old building dated 1447. There are three museums: The Tiziano Home Museum, The Archeological Museum of the Magnificent Community of Cadore, which contains the finds of Calalzo, Pieve and Valle; and the Glass Museum, which displays beautiful glasses from all the different eras. In Pieve di Cadore there is also a Santa Claus house in Roccolo city park.

cortina-la-perla-delle-dolomitiCORTINA D'AMPEZZO - "Pearl" of the Dolomites

This municipality in the southern (Dolomitic) Alps is Italy's number one ski resort. They have excellent sports facilities since hosting the 1956 Winter Olympics. The 1944 Winter Olympics were also scheduled to be held in Cortina, but were canceled because of  World War II. In addition to downhill and cross-country skiing, there is also a ski jump and a bobsleigh run for those who favor something more adventurous than usual, as well as an Olympic ice stadium, several swimming pools, tennis courts and riding facilities.  Walkers take advantage of the beauty of Cortina during the summer months. The surroundings have been the location for a number of movies, including mountain climbing scenes for Cliffhanger and The Pink Panther. The resort was a major location for the James Bond 007 film For Your Eyes Only.

PARCO NAZIONALE DOLOMITI BELLUNESI - This park was created in order to protect a territory of extrordinary landscape and naturalistic value. The Vette di Feltre and Mount Serva were already famous for their flora in the 18th century. The presence of rare species and of a great variety of natural environments is mainly due to the geographical position of the territory. The Park is situated on the edge of the South-eastern Alps, in impracticable areas which, in part, were not covered by the glaciers forming during the glacial periods of the Quaternary, the last of which disappeared about 10,000-12,000 years ago. The elevation of the park ranges from 400m to 2,565m and is home to over 1,500 species of flora. Deer, roe deer, foxes, martens, and other animals can also be found in the park. The great richness and rarity of the flora has been one of the main scientific reasons of the establishment of the Park. There are about 1,500 examples of vascular flora (plants with flowers and others, such as ferns, with roots, stem, and leaves).

tra-fiori-funghi-e-licheniTHE DOLOMITES - A close embrace of the most spectacular mountains in the world. This region is truly an alpine paradise. These mountains were formed from ancient reefs, and therefore they pop up in clusters, or groups, instead of traditional straight ranges. Between these jagged, towering groups of mountains are gentle grassy meadows filled with wildflowers and Bavarian alpine towns. Dolomites are famous for skiing in the winter months and mountain climbing, as well as hiking, paragliding and hand gliding in summer and late spring/early autumn. The Dolomites are also famous for their "via ferrata" climbing routes. Via ferrata means "iron way", and these routes have fixed cables that climbers can clip into for safety. This makes it possible for hikers and novice climbers to safely climb large, steep routes that normally would only be the domain of experienced climbers. They were initially installed by Italian and Austrian troops who fought a ferocious battle against each other in the Dolomites during the First World War. Tunnels, bunkers, and other relics of the war are found throughout the peaks of this region.

FOOD - Mountain dishes in the Belluno province are hearty, traditional and Austrian-inspired due to the zone's proximity to and relationship with Austria. Some specialties include casunzei (ravioli-like pasta prepared with either pumpkin, spinach or potatoes), canderli (dumplings), spres frit (fried cheese) and barley soup.  Puina (dialect term for polenta), lamon beans, mushrooms, wild herbs, poppy seeds, smoked ricotta and Schiz cheese are all ingredients commonly used in preparing dishes in the mountains.

padova-stemmaPADOVA - This city of art and university town with an illustrious academy history is a city of great scholars. By the 1st century B.C. Roman Pataviam was one of the region's principal centers. (The famous Roman historian, Titus Livy, was born here.) Its importance plunged with the fall of the Roman Empire, only to rise again with the birth and development of the Communes in the 11th and 12th centuries. In the 13th century, under the Signoria of Ezzelino da Romano, Padua's glorious university was founded. However, Padua reached her apex of splendor in the 14th-15th centuries under the Signoria of the Carraresi family. During this period, great artists - for example, Giotto, Dante,and Petrarch - were active in the city, a local school of painters foremost of which Guariento, began to make their mark, and dozens of splendid buildings were designed and erected. In the 15th century, despite the fact that politically it was subject to Venetian domination, Padua retained her standing as an artistic leader. Artists such as Donatello and Mantegna were active in the 1400s, and they were followed by Titian, Sansovino, and a host of others, not to mention the great architect Palladio who was born here in 1508. Padua, to a large extent stimulated by the intense intellectual life of a great university, never relinquished her leadership in cultural-artistic affairs of the Veneto region. Then, in 1797, the city was occupied by the French who were succeeded by the Austrians. The population, especially university students, actively lent their support to the 1848 uprising against the foreign invaders, and in 1866 Padua became part of the Kingdom of Italy. The city was heavily bombed in both world wars. Today, it comprises a historic midtown section and a modern industrial zone (mostly textiles and heavy industry). The presence of university students is ubiquitous. An important trade fair is held annually in June.

PRATO DELLA VALLE - This square, (site of a theater in Roman times), has always been a place for public spectacles. In 1775, since it had fallen into utter disrepair, Mayor Andrea Memmo commissioned Domenico Cerato to restore it. In the center is an enormous basin surrounded by a kind of moat with statuary and bridges for adornment, called Isola Memmia, in honor of the civic-minded mayor.

SANTA GIUSTINA - The present-day church is a 16th century reconstruction of a much older religious building. Art historians believe that the original church was erected in the 5th century. Inside the multi-domed building are several Baroque works.

THE GATTAMELATA - This masterpiece of Early Renaissance sculpture was commissioned from Donatello by relatives of Erasmo da Narni, nicknamed Gattamelata.

BASILICA DI SANT'ANTONIO -  This basilica is known as "il Santo" Work on this great religious complex, built to house the relics of Padua's beloved St. Anthony (who was actually born in Lisbon, Portugal, although he died here in 1231), began in 1232 and lasted well into the 14th century. Its composite style reveals Romanesque-Gothic motifs (facade and apse) and Oriental influxes (bell towers and domes). The facade is divided into two registers. In the lower part, the portal once sported a Mantegna fresco (now replaced by a copy), while the upper one is characterized by a great rose window framed by a triangular tympanum.

palazzo-della-ragione-a-padovaPALAZZO DELLA RAGIONE (Law Courts) - This is a Renaissance town hall building in Padova. The original building was begun in 1218, but not finished until 1306. (Fra' Giovanni degli Ermitani, the last architect supervising the project, had in the meantime altered the original plan.) The building, with its great hall on the upper floor, is reputed to have the largest roof unsupported by columns in Europe; the hall is nearly rectangular, its length 81.5m, its breadth 27m, and its height 24m; the walls are covered with allegorical frescoes.  The vast interior now houses modern art exhibitions.

EREMITANI - This church was named after the Monastery belonging to the Eremitani Friars. Built in the late 1200s in the Romanesque-Gothic style, it underwent extensive restoration after being heavily bombed in World War II.

SCROVEGNI CHAPEL - This chapel was commissioned by Enrico Scrovegni in 1305 as expiation for the sins of his father who made his fortune as a moneylender. Its interior is frescoed with scenes of the lives of Christ and the Virgin by Giotto, one of the most important works in Western art.

PIAZZA DEL SIGNORI - Several fine buildings border this square: the church of San Clemente, attributed to Jacopo Bellini; the Loggia della Gran Guardia, an attractive late 15th-early 16th century arcade; and the Palazzo del Capitanio (late 16th century), originally the tower of the medieval castle that once occupied the site of the palace. The clock, designed in 1344, ranks as Italy's first public clock.

DUOMO - Erected in the 9th century, the Duomo was rebuilt several times. Its present appearance dates from 1552 when Andrea Della Valle redesigned it on the basis of a plan drawn up by Michelangelo which, however, underwent considerable modification. The facade was never finished. Inside is an interesting Treasury vaunting a rich collection of silver and gold objects, as well as illuminated manuscripts.

orto_botanico01ORTO BOTANICO - The Botanic Garden of Padua dates back to 1545 and is regarded the oldest botanical garden in the world. Since its foundation, it was devoted to the growth of medicinal plants, since they made up the majority of the "simples", i.e. the remedies directly obtained from nature without any further concoction: for this reason it was named "Hortus Simplicium". In 1997 the Botanical Garden of Padua has been included in the World Heritage List of UNESCO. It still preserves its original layout - a circular central plot, symbolizing the world, surrounded by a ring of water. Other elements were added later, some architectural (ornamental entrances and balustrades) and some practical (pumping installations and greenhouses). It continues to serve its original purpose as a centre for scientific research.

STRA' - This pleasant little town is situated on the Brenta River in an area filled with villas built over the centuries by the Venetian nobility. One of the most famous, Villa Nazionale (also called Villa Pisani), was built in the 18th century by Frigimelica and Preti. Napoleon and King Vittorio Emanuele II were two of the famous people who sojourned in the imposing mansion, with its lovely grounds and stupendous rooms adorned with paintings by Longhi, Guarana, and Tiepolo.

MONSELICE -  Some of the town's original medieval buildings and protective walls are still intact. Its 13th century Castle was the residence of Ezzelino da Romano.

aperitivoAPEROL - This Italian aperitif was originally produced by the Barbieri company in 1919. It is now produced by the Campari company. It did not become successful until after World War II. Aperol is the main ingredient in Spritz.

UNIVERSITY OF PADOVA - This famous university is called the "Bo" (the ox) by the locals, because it stands on the site of an ancient inn that bore the sign of an ox.  Founded in 1222, the list of professors and alumni is long and illustrious, containing, among others, the names of Bembo, Sperone Speroni, the anatomist Vesalius, Copernicus, Fallopius, Fabrizio d'Acquapendente, Galileo Galilei, Pietro Pomponazzi, Reginald, later Cardinal Pole, Scaliger, Tasso and Sobieski. The university hosts the oldest anatomy theatre built in 1594.

CAFFE PEDROCCHI - Built in 1831 by architect Giuseppe Jappelli in neoclassical style with Egyptian influence. This is a little jewel of history and art for a café open for almost two centuries. It hosts the Risorgimento museum, and the near building of the Pedrocchino ("little Pedrocchi") in neogothic style.

IMMIGRANTS - The largest immigrant group comes from other European nations (the largest being Romanians, Moldovans, and Albanians): 5.14%, sub-saharan Africa 1.08%, and East Asia: 1.04%. The city is predominantly Roman Catholic, but due to immigration now has some Orthodox Christian, Muslim and Hindu followers.

rovigo-stemmaROVIGO - The territory of the province was first colonized by the Greeks, who founded the colony of Adria in the 12th-11th century BC. During the 6th and 5th century BC Etruscans and Venetians inhabited the area, followed by the Romans.

CATHEDRAL - This Duomo, entitled to St. Stephen, originally built before the 11th century, was rebuilt in 1461 and again in 1696. The art works of the interior includes a Resurrection of Christ by Palma the Younger.

CHIOGGIA - This beautiful city has been known as the second city after Venice in the Serenissima Repubblic, and historically it is famous for the war of Chioggia when the Genoeses destroyed the city in 1380.  Its most typical vessel is the "bragozzo", with its curious rounded bow and brightly painted sails. The crowded urban network of parallel narrow streets is crossed lenghthwise by the Canale della Vena and by Corso del Popolo, where you find the most beautiful examples of architecture in the city. With its canals, bridges and piazza, Chioggia has always been an unusual and delicately structured town. The economy is based on fishing & vegetable culture (with its "radicchio rosso di Chioggia").

chiesa_della_rotondaLA ROTONDA - The church of Madonna del Soccorso is best known as "La Rotonda". It was built between 1594 and 1606 by Francesco Zamberlan of Bassano, a pupil of Palladio, to house a miraculous image of a sitting Madonna with Child carrying a rose. The edifice has octagonal an plan, surrounded by a portico, begun in 1594. The original construction had a cupola, which was later substituted by a simple ceiling for static reasons.

PO DELTA - Hemmed in between the two longest rivers in Italy, the Adige to the north and the Po to the south, and subdivided by the flow of other waterways as well as by a myriad of canals and drainage ditches, the Po Delta (known as il Polesine) occupies the southern most border of the Veneto region. Here the Delta forms a unique natural setting.

treviso-stemmaTREVISO - The amazing labyrinth of canals with crystal clear waters have justly earned it the nickname of "city of water" and "painted city." Crisscrossed like Venice by canals, Treviso is a charming historic city. It became wealthy during the city-state period, prospering under the Da Camino Signoria (late 13th century), and as a Venetian possession (1389-1797). This is the birthplace of Benetton who founded the company in 1965.  They have a network of 5,500 stores in 120 countries.

PIAZZA DEI SIGNORI - The square is bordered by medieval buildings, i.e., the 13th century Palazzo dei Trecento, Palazzo del Podestà (rebuilt), Torre Comunale, and Palazzo Pretorio. In nearby Piazza Monte di Pietà is a lovely 16th-17th century chapel, Cappella dei Rettori.

duomo-di-trevisoDUOMO - The Duomo (Cathedral) was erected in the 11th-l3th centuries, whereas the apse dates from the 16th century and the porch was rebuilt in the 1800s. On either side of the facade are Romanesque lions. Today the main facade of Cathedral is ornamented by a wide staircase open on three sides erecting a pronaos with six Ionic columns. The main work of art is the "Annuciazione" by Tiziano in this chapel, located in the background, while there is an "Adorazione dei magi" by Pordenone on the wall of the left side. Between 1930 and 1935 the domes of the Cathedral were cleared by walls, by timber roofing and by curved tiles and they were covered by some copper plates; a lantern was located on the top of every dome thus they took on the current look.

CASTELFRANCO VENETO - This town was founded in 1199 by a group of people from Treviso. It is the birthplace of Giorgio Barbarelli, better known as Giorgione, one of the foremost 16th century Venetian painters. Castelfranco's historic section is clustered around the Castello, a huge turreted castle encircled by a moat. On the grounds is an open-air theater adorned with sculpture by Marinali.

MASER - This little town's claim to fame is Villa Barbaro, the stupendous mansion built by Palladio in 1560 for a Humanist scholar, Daniele Barbaro, located nearby. The Classical-style building is characterized by an Ionic-pillar porch running the length of its main section and two radiating wings. The interior is adorned with celebrated frescoes by Veronese.

MUSEUMS - Museums in Treviso have their seats in three buildings rich in history, located in the old centre of town (these museums were damaged by the air strikes of the Second War World and by the wear and tear of time). The museums in Treviso are: the Bailo Museum (it was the first to be used for this aim; the Casa da Noal Museum and the Santa Caterina Museum formed by the Church and also by two wonderful cloisters.

asoloASOLO - It is known as "The Pearl of province of Treviso", and also as "The City of a Hundred Horizons" for its mountain settings. It is beautifully sited among the cypress-clad foothills of the Dolomites. This tiny walled town was once ruled by Queen Caterina Cornaro (1454 - 1510), the Venetian wife of the King of Cyprus, who poisoned her husband so that Venice would gain Cyprus. Cardinal Pietro Bembo, a poet, coined the verb asolare to describe the bittersweet life of enforced idleness she endured in exile here. Among others who have fallen in love with the narrow streets and grand houses was poet Robert Browning, who named a volume of poems Asolanda (1889) after Asolo. Rich Venetians come in convertible Ferraris, Lamborghinis and Alfa Romeos, to sit in the sunny piazza drinking Prosecco, a wine produced in Veneto, while staring at the often beautifully attired local inhabitants.   The town was also home to the actress Eleonora Duse, the explorer Freya Stark, the violinist Wilma Neruda and the composer Gian Francesco Malipiero.

ORTO BOTANICO CONSERVATIVO CARLO SPEGAZZINI - (1500 m²), also called the Giardino Conservativo Spegazzini, is a botanical garden operated by the Accademia Trevigiana per il Territorio.  The garden was established in 1995, and named in honor of local botanist Carlo Spegazzini, with a mission to preserve native species, crops, and environments for experimental study. It currently contains over 500 plants representing about 30 species, organized into the following zones: a hedge; collection of Prunus species; traditional vines and mulberry trees; and two ponds.

GIARDINO FENOLOGICO "Alessandro Marcello" is another research botanical garden operated by the Accademia Trevigiana per il Territorio, and located adjacent to the Orto Botanico Conservativo Carlo Spegazzini.  The garden was established circa 1999 for experimental studies in phenology, and named in honor of Venetian botanist Alessandro Marcello. Its mission is to study the influence of various environmental factors on plant growth.

FOOD AND WINE - Some of the specialties eaten here include: sopa coada, a soup with pigeon meat, or various pasta and rice dishes with wild herbs and vegetables, such as risotto with wild asparagus (bruscandoi). With its famous red chicory (radicchio) Treviso prepares many dishes, the most famous of which is risotto al radicchio. Other pasta courses popular in Treviso include bigoli (thick homemade spaghetti served with duck or sausage sauce), risi e bisi (rice with peas) and pasta e fagioli (pasta with beans). Cold cuts are often served as antipasto: the most typical are soppressa, a large flavorful salami, and ossocollo. Meat is served with polenta, or peverada, a strong sauce made from liver and spices. Fall is synonymous with mushrooms, a true must on Treviso's tables. Some well-known cheeses are: soft, unripened Stracchino and Casatella come from the plains, while Montasio and Soligo and other specialties such as Bastardo del Grappa, smoked ricotta and "drunk" cheese come from the mountain area.  The most famous dessert is  tiramisù. The darling of the Marca lives in its hills, Prosecco di Conegliano-Valdobbiadene. It is a white wine with a flowery fruity bouquet, mainly produced in spumante and sparkling versions. Other wines in this area also include: Colli di Conegliano, a DOC wine, Torchiato di Fregona, Merlot, Cabernet, Tocai, Verduzzo, and Pinot as well as a very popular native wine Raboso. No meal would end without a nice glass of grappa, which is an object of worship in this land. There are many different types: white, refined in wood, aged, single grape type, flavored with herbs or fruit.

verona-stemmaVERONA - Many extraordinary remains of Verona's past have been preserved throughout the centuries. It achieved prosperity by the Roman period thanks to a strategic position at the crossroads of the major communications networks between Rome and her Adriatic cities, north Tyrrhenian ports, and Northern European outposts. There was a drawback though: such a central position also left it open to outside attacks, which were indeed frequent. When the Roman Empire fell, it succumbed to the Ostrogths whose leader, Theodoric, made it his home. In the 6th century, it was taken over by the Longobards. (The notorious episode of Rosmunda forced to drink from her father's skull took place under the rule of the Longobard king, Alboinus.) In the 12th century the Free Commune of Verona joined the Lombard League in a concerted effort to oust Barbarossa. In the 13th, it was ruled by the Signoria, first under Ezzelino II da Romano and then under the Scaligeri who, starting from Mastino I in 1260, ruled Verona practically through the 14th century. The Scaligeri (especially Cangrande who is also known for having given refuge to Dante after the poet fled Florence for political reasons) brought political and economic well-being to the city, and, in addition, summoned important artists and architects to work under their patronage. During the 14th century, when the International Style dominated Veronese art, masters such as Pisanello and Stefano da Verona were active. Political control of Verona passed from the Viscontis (1387) to Venice (starting in 1404 and lasting until 1796, when Napoleon overran the whole Veneto). Art flourished throughout the 16th century, mainly under the impetus of Paolo Caliari, better known as "II Veronese," one of the foremost Venetian painters of the times. At the outset of the 19th century,Verona was ceded to the Austrians, but after regaining her independence, adhered to the Kingdom of Italy in 1866. Modern-day Verona is a great center of Italian agriculture (hosting Italy's major agriculture trade fairs and expositions). We must not forget opera, the summer performances in the Arena, known and appreciated world over.

verona-arenaARENA - This huge amphitheater was built by the Romans in the 1st century A.D. and is the largest in the world, after Rome's Colosseum and the amphiteatre at Santa Maria Capura Vetere, near Naples. It is internationally famous for the large-scale opera performances given there. It is one of the best preserved ancient structures of its kind. Throughout the Middle Ages, however, it ceased to be a showplace and sadly became a handystone quarry. The surviving structures include a wing of the outer walls in the three Classical orders (Doric, Ionic, Corinthian), the inner walls, the stage, and the impressive 30-meter-tall cave seating 22,000. Only recently has it been restored.  Four productions are mounted each year between June and August. During the winter months, the local opera and ballet companies perform at the L'Accademia Filarmonica. Candles are distributed to the audience and lit after sunset around the arena. In the last few year,  the Verona Arena has also housed concerts of popular music bands such as The Who, Kiss, Simply Red, Simple Minds, Muse, Tina Turner, Björk and Pearl Jam.

CASTELVECCHIO - Begun in 1354 by Cangrande II as a defense fortress,  Castelvecchio still makes an impressive sight with its majestic towers and ramparts outlined against the skyline. After serving as a prison and then an army barracks, it became a museum, the Museo Civico.  Cangrande II also built the nearby Scaligero Bridge (as an escape route to the opposite bank of the Adige). Blown up by dynamite during World War II, it has been restored with the original building materials.

DUOMO - Erected over a 400-year period (12th through 16th centuries), the Cathedral nevertheless conveys an effect of stylistic harmony. The remarkable portal is, like San Zeno's, a 12th century masterpiece by Niccolò.  Here he sculpted the sword-bearing figures of Oliver and Roland, two of Charlemagne's knights, whose exploits were much celebrated in medieval poetry.

casa-di-giuliettaJULIET'S HOUSE - The tragic story of Lord Romeo Montague and Lady Juliet Capulet, two young lovers from rival families was written by Luigi da Poto of Vicenza in the 1520s and has inspired countless poems, films, ballets and dramas, at (Juliet's house), n°27 Via Cappello.  Romeo is said to have climbed to Juliet's balcony: in reality this is a restored 13th century inn.  Crowds throng to see the simple facade, and stand on the small marble balcony. Pastry shops in the area offer delicious chocolate sweets called, "baci di Romeo" and "baci di Giulietta".  (Romeo's and Juliet's kisses). Casa di Romeo (Romeo's house) stands a few streets away in Via Arche Scaligieri).

JULIET'S TOMB - The tomb is displayed in a crypt below the cloister of San Francesco al Corso on Via delle Portiere.  The stone sarcophagus lied in an extremely atmospheric setting.

ARCHE SCALIGERE - The Arche are 14th century tombs belonging to the Signori of Verona. They are located by the Area di Cangrànde I (1329) atop the portal of the church of Santa Maria Antica. (The statue of Cangrande is a copy; the original is in the Castelvecchio Museum.) The later tombs, the Area di Mastino II (1345) and the Area di Cansignorio (by Jonino da Campione,1375) have the same elaborate structure and decorative style.

PIAZZA BRA - The square the natives call "La Bra" (a shortened form of braida, a Germanic-root word for open space) was once the local livestock marketplace. The area around the Arena was paved in the 18th century, and since then, dubbed "Il Liston", it has always been a favorite with the Veronesi as a place to stroll and shop.

PIAZZA ERBE - Was built on the site of the ancient Roman forum.  It is named after the city's old herb market.  This bustling marketplace is bordered by picturesque old buildings. Today's stalls, shaded by umbrellas, sell everything from herb-flavoured roast suckling pig to fresh-picked fruit to delicious wild mushrooms. At the north side of the Piazza stands the Baroque Palazzo Maffei built in 1668, surmounted by statues.  In front of it rises a column supporting the Venetian Lion, which marks Verona's absorption, in 1405, into the Venetian empire.  The fountain in the middle of the Piazza dates from Roman times.  It serves as a reminder that this piazza has been used as a market place for 2,000 years.

PIAZZA DEI SIGNORI - This remarkable square is bordered by some remarkable buildings. Palazzo della Ragione was built in the late 12th century in a Romanesque style still visible inside in the Cortile del Mercato Vecchio (Court of the Old Market), whereas the facade bears evident traces of remodeling. The elegant Loggia di Fra' Giocondo (or Loggia del Consiglio), attributed to a Veronese monk, Fra' Giocondo, comprises an eight-arch portico adorned with statuary, marbles, and frescoes.

ROMAN THEATER - The Roman theater was built in the 1st century B.C. Despite having been plundered and abandoned throughout the Middle Ages, it is still strikingly picturesque and an attractive setting for summer shows. The Archeological Museum occupies the Monastery of San Girolamo. The exhibits include ceramics, bronzes, marbles, and other Roman pieces from excavations in Veronese territory.

SAN FERMO MAGGIORE - This building comprises two super imposed churches, one 11th century Romanesque built by the Benedictine friars, and one 14th century Gothic built by the Franciscan friars. The lower register is faced in tufa, whereas the upper one sports a horizontal stripe pattern.

SANT'ANASTASIA - Work on the church was begun in the 1200s (by Dominican monks) on the site of a much earlier building erected by Theodoric, and continued well into the 15th century. The huge double portal of the unfinished facade has a splendidly carved 14th century entablature. The sacristy off the north aisle, is home to the fine but unfortunately damaged frescoes of St. George and the Princess (1433 - 8) by Pisanello.

giusti-gardensGIARDINI GIUSTI - This is one of Italy's finest and best-preserved Renaissance gardens. Designed by Agostino Giusti in 1580 as a setting for the villa which bears his name, it consists of three parts: a lawn, a wooded hill with a cliff and landscaped terraces culminating in a belvedere. Giusti designed his garden in modo giusto. A case of truth in a name... it means "done well".  It contains all the features of a typical Renaissance garden: geometrical layout of flowerbeds and hedgerows, fountains, grottos, mask, mythological statues, avenues of cypresses and a maze. Mozart, Goethe, kings and emperors have all visited this garden, which, for four centuries has been one of the most beautiful and well-visited in the whole of Veneto. John Evelyn, an English author and diarist, who visited Verona in 1661, thought this the finest garden in Europe.

SAN GIORGIO IN BRAIDA - This church, built in the late 1400s, is a fine example of Renaissance architecture. The dome was built by Sanmicheli in the 16th century and the facade during the l7th century.

SANTA MARIA IN ORGANO - This 15th century church was built over a pre-existing building. The three-arch marble facade was designed by Sanmicheli. The interior is completely covered with Renaissance frescoes by Giolfino, Caroto, and the Morones. The superb wooden choir stalls in the apse were carved in 1499 by Fra' Giovanni da Verona, who also crafted the inlaid cabinets in the sacristy (1519).

SAN ZENO - The renowned Romanesque basilica of San Zeno was founded in the 5th century and rebuilt during the 11th and 12th centuries. The rose window on the linear facade (called Wheel of Fortune) dates from the 13th century. The outstanding artistic feature of the church facade, however, is its portal, comprising a porch resting on columns bordered by two rows of reliefs depicting scenes from the Old and New Testaments. This masterpiece of Romanesque art was executed by Niccolò.

FOOD AND WINE - Verona is famous for its wines.  Among them Soave, Valpolicella, Bardolino, Recioto and Amarone.  Specialties include gnocchi, pasta with beans and asparagus.

vicenza-stemmaVICENZA - Vicenza is most famous for its trade in precious metals, also known as the "City of gold". (The city of Vicenza was recognized by UNESCO as a "Heritage of Humanity" site and home to a number of Palladio's best works). Vicenza is one of the Italian cities boasting the largest number of art monuments, and one of those whose historic past has been best preserved. Vicenza was in turn a Roman, Longobard, and Frankish territory. In the 12th century it joined the League of Communes united against Barbarossa. Thereafter, it was ruled by the Carraresi, Scaligeri, Viscontis, and lastly by the Venetians. In the 15th and 16th centuries, it managed to attain considerable economic prosperity, and this was the period of its great artistic boom. Toward the end of the 15th century, for example, the painter Bartolomeo Mantegna was active here. He was followed in the 1500s by Andrea Palladio who, under the tutelage of a local poet-scholar, Gian Giorgio Trissino, became one of the foremost architects of his time and indeed of all Italian art history. The buildings Palladio designed for Vicenza convey a feeling of harmonious classicism, which beautifully blends in with the pre-existing late-Gothic Venetian style. For centuries Palladio's distinctive buildings influenced the architecture of the city (especially the work of Scamozzi) and all of Europe (and beyond, e.g., Jefferson's Monticello estate). Among its identifying features are: use of columns, porches, gables, and strict adhesion to the progression of the Doric-lonic-Corinthian orders in accordance with Classical canons. Further, in the design of villas, Palladio always strived to achieve perfect harmony between architecture and landscape. The considerable damage by World War II bombs has left few scars in Vicenza. Moreover, the city and its surrounding area have become an active industrial center (textiles, leather goods, ready-to-wear, chemicals, paper, and metal-working).

DUOMO - An Early Christian building rebuilt numerous times up to the 16th century, the Duomo has a 15th century patterned marble facade. The crossing, dome, apse and left hand portal (perhaps designed by Palladio) are Renaissance, whereas the 11th century bell tower is Romanesque.

basilica-palladiana-vicenzaBASILICA PALLADIANA - This Renaissance building is in the central Piazza dei Signori in Vicenza. The most notable feature of the edifice is the loggia, which shows one of the first examples of the what came to be known as the Palladian window, designed by a young Andrea Palladio, whose work in architecture was to have a significant effect on the field during the Renaissance and later periods.

LA ROTONDA - This stupendous round building was designed and erected by Palladio and Scamozzi between 1550 and 1606. It became a prototype for dozens of villas and other kinds of buildings all over Europe. The interior features a noteworthy decorative scheme.

PALAZZO VALMARANA - Work on this lovely Classical-style building was begun by Palladio in1556. However, the inner courtyard, bordered by an elegant portico of Ionic pillars, was never completed.

SAN LORENZO - Built by the Franciscans in the late 1200s, the church was deconsecrated at the turn of this century and turned into an army barracks. Its facade is characterized by Gothic arcading, a huge oculus, and a fine portal adorned with 14th century reliefs.

PALAZZO DEL COMUNE - Vicenza's City Hall is one of the finest buildings designed by Vincenzo Scamozzi. Erected in the 16th century, it features a great porch with an entablature sustained by Ionic columns and a Renaissance window. Inside is an interesting courtyard and some beautifully appointed rooms.

human-chess-gameMAROSTICA (Vicenza) - This charming town is located in the foothills of Asiago plateau about half hour's drive from Vicenza. It was fortified by the Scaligeri in the 1300s with protective walls and two castles, i.e., Castello Superiore, (on a hill overlooking the town), and Castello Inferiore in Piazza Castello. In the center of the square is a gigantic chessboard.  It is the only town in entire globe where the game of mind, intelligence and brilliance is played live with humans in its proper dignity, following the ancient codes. Marostica is also famous for their production of cherries.

PIAZZA DEI SIGNORI - This is the heart of Vicenza: in the square are Palladio's grandiose Basilica; the12th century Torre di Piazza (an 82-meter-tall tower, which was raised twice, in the 14th and 15th centuries); Palladio's unfinished Loggia del Capitaniato (or, Loggia Bernarda), dated 1571; and Palazzo Monte di Pietà, a remodeled 15th century building incorporating the17th century church of San Vincenzo. The interior of the Loggia del Capitaniato was frescoed by Titian and Paris Bordone.

SANTA CORONA - This Romanesque-Gothic church was built in the second half of the 13th century, although the transepts and apse were remodeled in the 15th century. The facade has a fine portal surmounted by a rose window.

PALAZZO CHIERICATI - Designed by Palladio, who broke ground in1550, this palace was finished in the 17th century by Carlo Borella. The ground floor sports an elegant Doric porch, the second five great windows framed by two Ionic loggias, and the whole is adorned with statuary. Today the building is a museum (Museo Civico), with exhibits ranging from archeological material to prints, coins, paintings, and sculpture.

teatro-olimpico-vicenzaTEATRO OLIMPICO - This was Palladio's last work, which was finished by his son and then by Vincenzo Scamozzi. The Teatro rises on the site of the ancient castle of the Carraresi family. It was designed by Palladio who died a few months after construction was begun, and finished in 1584 by Scamozzi. Originally built for performances of the Accademia Olimpica, it is still being used as a theater today. The incredible building is ranked as one of the world's most beautiful theaters. Inspired by Classical models, it has permanent stage sets, adorned with ninety-five statues, built by Scamozzi.

BASILICA OF MONTE BERICO - This grandiose Baroque church, designed by Carlo Borello, rises on a hilltop overlooking Vicenza. It was founded in1428 (and remodeled many times over) on the site of an apparition of the Virgin to an old woman from Vicenza.

VICENZA TODAY - This is a very wealthy city in part to the recent burgeoning of the local computer-component industry (Federico Faggin inventor of the silicon chip, was born here).  It is also the traditional center of the country's gold manufacturing industry (1/3 of Italy's gold is made here).

THE BRENTA RIVER - Dotting along the River Brenta, which passes through Padua and spills into the Venetian lagoon, are more than 100 villas built over the centuries by wealthy Venetian families as summer homes. The most outstanding are Villa Foscari (1571) built by Palladio at Malcontenta, and Villa Pisani, also known as the Villa Nazionale, at Strà , which was built for Doge Alvise Pisani.  There are many villas, gardens and historic buildings along the Riviera.

ponte-degli-alpiniBASSANO DEL GRAPPA - The original name of the town was Bassano Veneto. After the terrible battles on Mount Grappa in WWI , where thousands of soldiers lost their lives, a decision was made to change the name of the town. In 1928, the name was changed to Bassano del Grappa, meaning Bassano of Mount Grappa, as a memorial to the soldiers killed. During World War I Bassano was in the front area, and all industrial activities were halted. In World War II, after the Armistice with Italy, the city was invaded by German troops, which killed or deported numerous inhabitants. The symbol of the town is the covered wooden pontoon bridge, which was designed by the architect Andrea Palladio in 1569. The bridge was destroyed many times, the last time during WWII. The Alpine soldiers, or Alpini have always revered the wooden bridge and Bassano del Grappa. After the destruction of the bridge, they took up a private collection and had the bridge completely rebuilt. Often soldiers flock to the bridge to remember and sing songs from their days as alpine soldiers. The grappa shop of Nardini Distillery is located on the bridge, also known as Ponte Vecchio. Other well-known producers of grappa are Nonino, grappa-nardiniBerta, Sibona, Jacopo Poli, Brotto, Domenis and Bepi Tosolini.Grappa is primarily served as a "digestivo" or after-dinner drink.

MUSEO CIVICO - The museum building was originally the monastery alongside the Romanesque-Gothic church of San Francesco. In addition to ceramics and print collections, there is also a Pinacoteca featuring artists such as Guariento, Vivarini, Mansueti, Longhi, Magnasco, and Jacopo, Leandro, and Francesco Bassano, three of the foremost 16th century Venetian-school painters and natives of Bassano.

DOC & DOCG Wines of Veneto

Veneto devotes almost 250 thousand acres to grapevines. About 45% of the wine production is red or rosé, leaving 55% for white. The region produces 24 DOC wines and 3 DOCG wines, Recioto di Soave, Soave Superiore, and Bardolino Superiore. DOC stands for Denominazione di Origine Controllata, which may be translated as Denomination of Controlled Origin, presumably a high-quality wine. Almost 30% of Venetian wine carries the DOC or DOCG designation. Veneto is home to about four dozen major and secondary grape varieties, approximately half white and half red. Widely grown international white grape varieties include Trebbiano, Chardonnay, and Pinot Bianco.

Alto Livenza (IGT), Arcole (DOC), Bagnoli di Sopra o Bagnoli (DOC), Bardolino (DOC), Bianco di Custoza (DOC), Breganze (DOC), Colli Berici (DOC), Colli di Conegliano (DOC), Colli Euganei (DOC), Colli Trevigiani (IGT), Conselvano delle Venezie (IGT), Delle Venezie (IGT), Gambellara (DOC), Garda (DOC), Lessini Durello (DOC), Lison Pramaggiore (DOC), Lugana (DOC), Marca Trevigiana (IGT), Merlara (DOC), Montello e Colli Asolani (DOC), Piave o Vini del Piave (DOC), Prosecco di Conegliano Valdobbiadene (DOC), Provincia di Verona o Veronese (IGT), Reciotto di Soave (DOC), San. Martino della Battaglia (DOC), Soave (DOC), Valdadige (DOC), Vallagarina (IGT), Valpolicella (DOC), Veneto (IGT), Veneto orientale (IGT), Vini del Piave o Piave (DOC)