Veneto Travel Guide
Veneto Local History
The Veneto region consists of a network of charming little towns which are rich in history and greatly enhance the human and cultural life of the region. Between the 16th and the 18th centuries, hundreds of Villas, designed by the most famous architects of the time, were built in the region. This contributed to the process and improvement of previously uncultivated land, helping to protect it from the ravages of the waters which surround it. Venice doesn't have a monopoly on art or architectural treasures in this region
Other cities of interest that you can easily reach from Venice, in the area known as the Veneto, are for instance Verona, home of the eternal lovers Romeo and Juliet; Padua, the city of Mantegna, with frescoes by Giotto; and Vicenza, the city of Palladio, with streets of Renaissance palazzi and hills studded with villas.
If you have an extra day or so to spare, pay a visit to Trieste, the unofficial capital of Friuli-Venezia Giulia. It was Venice's main rival in the Adriatic from the 9th century to the 15th century. Even though Trieste doesn't boast Venice's charm, it is still one of Italy's most interesting ports, with Habsburg monuments at its core and the world's largest accessible cave on its outskirts.
Shopping in Verona is an experience of elegance, and shops feature the fashions being touted in Milan and Rome. Don't look for tourist products or rustic crafts and souvenirs; instead, look for more upscale versions of all-Italian fashion and accessories.
A worthwhile shop for men is Class Uomo, Via San Rocchetto 13B (tel (045) 595 775), and, for both genders, there's the classic Armani, Via Cappello 25 (tel (045) 594 727). You will find a dense concentration of vendors selling antiques or old bric-a-brac in the streets around Sant'Anastasia, or head to Piazza elle Erbe for a more or less constant roster of merchants in flea market-style kiosks selling dusty, and often junkier, collectibles of yesteryear, along with aromatic herbs, fruits, and vegetables.
Padua has a solid industrial base, and an economy too diversified to rely exclusively on tourism. You will therefore find a wide range of upscale consumer goods and luxury items, and less emphasis on souvenirs and handcrafts. Droves of shoppers head to the Prato delle Valle on the third Sunday of every month, when more than 200 antiques and collectibles vendors set up shop for the day. The square, one of the largest in all Europe, also hosts a smaller weekly market on Saturday. Shoes from nearby Brenta factories are the prevalent product, but the range of goods offered remains eclectic.
The outdoor markets (Monday to Saturday) in the twin Piazza delle Erbe (for fresh produce) and Piazza della Frutta (dry goods), flanking the enormous Palazzo della Ragione, are some of Italy's best. Specialty shops include Roberto Callegari, 8 via Davila (tel (049) 8755803), Padua's leading jewelry store, and L'Antiquario Gemmologo, 6 Via Davila (tel (049) 664195), run by Callegari's brother. He sells antique silver and also has an outstanding collection of jewelry next door.
Just for fun, drop in at Amadio, Galleria Pedrocchi 5 (tel (049) 8752150), which has been specializing in men's sportswear and (an unusual marriage) household furnishings for more than 100 years. If you found the designer shops of Venice too pricey, you'll encounter the same merchandise by walking along Via San Fermo, where you'll find Prada, Armani, Gucci, Hermès, Max Mara, and the like.
Veneto Restaurants and Bars
Ristorante Il Desco - Via Dietro San Sebastiano 7, Verona Tel (045) 595 358. This handsome restaurant is based in a renovated palazzo that is one of the city's civic prides. The menu reflects the philosophy of cuisine moderne. Only the freshest ingredients are used in the specialties like shrimp purée; potato pie with mushrooms and black truffles; calamari salad with shallots; tortellini with sea bass; risotto with radicchio and truffles; and tagliolini with fresh mint, lemon, and oranges. The wine cellar is superb, and the sommelier will help if you're unfamiliar with regional vintages. Open Tuesday to Saturday 12.30 to 2pm and 7.30 to 10.30pm. Main courses 18 to 33; tasting menu 93. Reservations are recommended.
Antico Brolo - Corso Milano 22, Padua Tel (049) 664 555. The city of Padua's best restaurant is situated across from the ornate Teatro de Padova (Civic Theater). The 16th-century dining room evokes and atmosphere of the Renaissance, but many patrons prefer a candlelit table in the garden. The cuisine places special emphasis on seasonal ingredients and the traditions of the Veneto and Emilia-Romagna. The made-on-the-premises graganelli (similar to the tubular shape of penne) with garlic sauce, onion soup baked in a crust, chateaubriand with balsamic vinegar, and grilled fish are some of the delicious specialties. Top a perfect dinner of with the perfect dessert of zuppa inglese, a cream-enriched equivalent to zabaglione. Hours Tuesday to Sunday 12.30 pm to 2.30pm and 7.30 to midnight. Main courses 15 - 25.
Cinzia e Valerio - Piazzetta Porta Padova 65-67, Vincenza Tel (0444) 505 213. This is Vicenza's best and most elegant restaurant, where you'll be greeted by a polite staff and masses of seasonal flowers. The fish specialties are time-tested recipes from the Adriatic coast. You may want to begin your meal with mollusks and shellfish arranged into an elegant platter. Or you can opt for risotto flavored with squid, a collection of crab and lobster that might surprise you by its size and weight, and an endless procession of fish cooked any way you prefer. Hours Tuesday to Sunday noon to 2.30pm; Tuesday to Saturday 7.30 to 9.30pm. Main courses 12 - 20.
Veneto Bars & Clubs
Disco Berfis Club - Via Lussemburgo 1, Verona Tel (045) 508 024, or Bar/Disco Tribu - Via Calderara 17, Verona Tel (045) 566 470. Put on your dancing shoes when you head out for these two venues where the rhythms echo what's being broadcast in New York and Milan.
Bottega del Vino - Via Scudo di Francia 3, Verona (off Via Mazzini) Tel (045) 800 4535. This atmospheric bottega first opened in 1890, and the old-timers who spend hours in animated conversation seem to have been here ever since. The atmosphere and conviviality are reason enough to come by for a tipple at the well-known bar. They serve five dozen wines by the glass. Regulars, journalists, and local merchants often fill the few wooden tables at mealtimes, ordering simple and affordable but excellent dishes, such as homemade risottos.
Enoteca da Severino - 44 Via del Santo, Pedua Tel (049) 650 4674. This one of the oldest wine bars in the city of Pedua.
Victoria - Via Savonarola 149, Padua Tel (049) 872 1530. At this birreria (beer tavern), live jazz concerts are presented on Thursday. It is a good nighttime hangout if you are a beer drinker and eat pizza and want to mingle with a fairly young crowd. Many people come here mainly to drink, although you can order plates of food costing 6 to 7.50. The beer tavern stays open Tuesday to Sunday from 7pm to 2am.
Disco-Bar Limbo - Via San Fermo 44, Padua Tel (049) 656 882. Here electronic games alternate with recorded and (occasionally) live music. Or try Disco Extra Extra - Via Ciamician 5, Pedua Tel (049) 620 044 and its neighbor, Disco P1 - Viale Giusti 15, Pedua Tel (049) 860 1633. They are situated about 3km (2 miles) west of Padua.
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