1 – Venice
- Visit the Basilica in San Marco’s Square (1) and go up onto the roof. The view is beautiful over the Piazza and the Byzantium mosaics are incredible from this angle. Go even higher and see all of Venice from the top of the Bell Tower.
- Visit the Doge’s Palace (2).
- Take a Gondola through the smaller canals before reaching the Rialto bridge (3), (rather than from the Piazza San Marco which is so busy). Prices are now fixed so you cannot be taken for a ride! (excuse the pun!)
- Visit Santa Maria di Nazareth (4) (Chiesa degli Scalzi), the church immediately on the left as you come out of the train station, before crossing over the bridge. It is very impressive inside and has a tiny shop selling herbs and soaps.
- Why not walk to Piazza San Marco via the Rialto Bridge and catch a water bus back to the station?
- Take a boat trip to the nearby island of Murano (5) to visit the historical glass blowing factories.
Taste baccalà (stockfish), Venetian liver served with potatoes and polenta, squid ink risotto or a very expensive but local delicacy called ‘Moléche’ (soft-shell crab) served at only certain months in the year.
2 – Verona
- Get a map and wander around, exploring narrow streets and tiny piazzas as well as the main piazza called Piazza Bra (1).
- Visit Verona in the summer evenings and relax in one of the many bars or eat an ice-cream whilst listening to the swallows.
- Go to an opera in the Arena (1) in summer. The atmosphere is incredible.
- Visit Verona at Christmas. The Arena holds an enormous nativity exhibition and a beautiful comet appears in Piazza Bra.
- Visit the Christmas market held in the smaller piazzas in Via delle Erbe. It is just as good as the ones in the north.
- Visit Verona when the festival of Santa Lucia is on in December.
- Climb to the top of Lamberti’s Tower in Piazza delle Erbe (2). What a view!
- Visit Juliet’s balcony (3) and her house which are just off Piazza delle Erbe, in Via Cappello.
- Take a walk along the river Adige and stop off at the Roman amphitheatre (4) on the hill. Look out for performances which take place here as it is such a beautiful setting.
- Visit Castelvecchio (5) where children can play and explore its walls. Walk over the castle’s bridge to enjoy some beautiful views.
Taste the different types of risotto which are typical in the area, as well as polenta, gnocchi and ‘Tortelli di Valeggio’ (pasta stuffed with beef, pork and vegetables, served with butter and sage). Horse meat is typical too. Don’t forget to try Verona’s typical Christmas cake called ‘Pandoro’.
3 – Padova
- Visit Piazza della Frutta e Piazza delle Erbe (1) which host some of the oldest markets in Italy.
- Visit Piazza dei Signori (2), which also has an ordinary market, but is seen in all its splendour on the other days.
- Go to the Botanical Gardens (3), just off Piazza del Santo. From the traditional gardens walk through to the modern-style greenhouses.
- Visit the churches in Padova, including the very impressive Sant’ Antonio Basilica (4) (which in spite of its size is not the actual cathedral of Padova).
- Go to see Giotto’s work and breathtaking Colbolt Blue ceiling in the Capella degli Scrovegni (5). It is amazing. (You must book well in advance to see it).
- Relax with a coffee in the oldest bar in Padova, Caffé Pedrocchi (6).
Padova and the Veneto region are famous for farm products such as the Paduan hen (Gallina Padovana), goose, capon, guinea fowl and duck. Padova produces excellent white and green asparagus, which are often served with boiled eggs, and several varieties of radicchio. Taste the delicious asparagus or chicory risotto, ‘Risi e Bisi’ (rice and peas) and ‘Pasta e Fasoi’ (pasta and beans).
4 – Bologna
- Go up the towers, Torri degli Asinelli e Garisenda (1), if you have the energy!
- Visit Piazza Santo Stefano (2) which has some amazing buildings around it.
- Visit Piazza Maggiore (3) where you can visit Neptune’s fountain – another historical landmark of the city.
- Visit the Cathedral of St. Petronio (3) in Piazza Maggiore, which is Italy’s fifth largest cathedral and is named after the patron Saint of the city. The size of the cathedral is truly impressive but to fully appreciate it you need to go inside. It has 22 chapels and two organs dating back to 1476 and 1596.
- Walk around the Medieval Market area and Loggia dei Mercanti (4) off Piazza Maggiore in Via Rizzoli, Piazza della Mercanzia, Via Drapperie and Via Pescherie. All these tiny alleys used to be buzzing with trade and local activities.
- Explore the university area (5) (Via Zamboni, 15 minutes on foot east of the Towers) which also hosts a variety of fascinating museums including the Astronomy Museum, the Anatomy Museum, the Physics Museum, the Museum of Anthropology and the Museum of Zoology. Bologna’s university is the oldest in Europe and dates back to 1088. (Check opening times of museums).
- Visit the fascinating Anatomical Theatre (6) inside the Archiginnasio building just off Piazza Maggiore (Piazza Galvani). You can just imagine the gruesome dissections of animals and bodies which took place in those days. It is free to visit but check the opening days.
- Visit the Ducati Museum (7) in Via Antonio Cavalieri (10 minutes by bus or taxi from the station). It is open from Monday to Saturday. Tickets cost 10 euro per person and for motorbike lovers it is well-worth a visit. www.ducati.it/company/prenotazione_visite/index.do
- Visit The History of Bologna Museum (8), Palazzo Pepoli in Via Castiglione 8, where there is an exciting exhibition taking place called The Time Machine. It is a virtual tour of Bologna in Medieval times. 8th April – 7th January 2018.
- Visit the Botanical Garden (9) which is run by the university. It is free to visit and is open from Monday – Friday, 8.30 – 3. 30 p.m., Saturday 8.30 – 1 p.m. Via Irnerio, 42.
- Go by bike, from the city centre, up into the hills to visit San Luca (10). If it is too far you could always catch the ‘San Luca Express’ train for a fun and less tiring way to visit the sanctuary (see the website below for tickets).
www.bolognawelcome.com is a great website to visit as it gives you an update of all the events, exhibitions and tours taking place there. It also gives ideas for cycling routes and walks to do through the city and also in the nearby hills and countryside.
Taste Bologna’s very own mortadella, lasagna, tortellini, ‘Tagliatelle alla Bolognese’, ‘Piselli alla pancetta’.
5 – Ravenna
- Go on a circular tour of all the churches to visit the early Christian and Byzantine Mosaics:
Neonian Baptistry (1), San Vitale (2), Sant’ Apollinare Nuovo (3), Arcivescovado (Archbishop’s Palace) (4), Arian Baptistry (5) Saint’ Appollinare in Classe (6).
- Visit the Mausoleum of Galla Placida (7). It is one of the best preserved mosaic monuments.
- Visit the tomb of Dante Alighieri (8) in the Basilica di San Francesco and the tiny Dante Museum.
Eat piadina in Ravenna! The ‘Ca’ de Ven’ restaurant in Via Corrado Ricci 24 (near Dante’s tomb) comes highly recommended for its piadine and other traditional dishes. There are also lots of kiosks along the streets which sell delicious piadine.
6 – Mantova
- Go to San Giorgio’s Bridge (1) and admire the view of the city! (Coming from Ferrara by car you will automatically cross over this bridge).
- Explore the beautiful piazzas and gardens in the city.
- Visit the Basilica di Sant’ Andrea (2).
- Visit the Palazzo Ducale (3) with Mantegna’s beautiful frescoes.
- Visit Palazzo del Te (4) and its museum. Walk in the gardens called ‘Giardini di Belfiore’ (5). –
- Take a boat trip on one of Mantova’s three lakes. There are short and long trips available. Go inside the Bibena Theatre (6) which is small but breathtaking. (Closed at lunchtime).
Try ‘Tortelli di zucca’ (a variation of Ferrara’s Cappellacci, as the Mantovan ones have amaretti inside), ‘Bigoli con le sardelle’ (a type of spaghetti with fish and garlic) and a cake called Elvezia (a cake made from egg white, sugar and almond paste).
7 – Modena
- Visit Piazza Grande (1) which has some lovely building surrounding it, including a 15th century clock tower.
- Go inside the cathedral which is the perfect example of a Romanesque church.
- Visit the Torre della Ghirlandina (2) which is the cathedral’s Gothic bell tower.
- Watch out for special tours, which are only given some weekends, to visit the Ducal Palace (3). It was once the seat of the Este court.
The Museum Building (4) houses some interesting exhibitions.
- Visit the Enzo Ferrari Museum (5) to trace the history of the Ferrari and its creator. It is a very well-organized and exciting museum for all the family, not just car-lovers.
Products which are typical from Modena include balsamic vinegar, Parmesan cheese, ham and Lambrusco (a red, sparkling wine). ‘Cotechino Modena’ (a type of sausage) and boiled meats are traditional from this area and are often served with lentils.
8 – Vicenza
It is an interesting city to simply walk around and admire.
- Stop off at one of Palladio’s most important villas called Villa Rotonda (1).
- Visit Palazzo della Ragione (2) in the main square, which hosts art exhibitions.
- Visit Teatro Olimpico (3), a Roman style theatre, which is still used today.
- See Palazzo Chiericati (4) which is a Renaissance-style building designed by Palladio and is home to the Civic Museum and large art collection.
Visit the nearby hills called ‘Colle Euganei’. Excellent white and red wine come from this region and there are some great agriturismi and trattorias where you can eat well and cheaply. Taste ‘Bigoli co l’arno’ (thick spaghetti with duck) and baccalà (stockfish) served with polenta.
9 – Chioggia
Enjoy walking around this pretty coastal town, which is also known as ‘Little Venice’.
- Walk along the Diga Sottomarina, around the fishing port and down the main street called Corso del Popolo (1).
- Visit the Clock Tower Museum (2).
- Visit Piazzetta Vigo (3) and the superb fish market which is open on weekdays in the mornings.
- Visit the cathedral.
It is possible to catch a boat to Venice from here. The journey takes about two hours.
Try the seafood in Chioggia as it has a wide selection which is caught locally, and you can eat here much more cheaper than in Venice.
10 – Comacchio
- Visit and cross over the I Tre Ponti (1) (the Three Bridges).
- Visit the new Ancient Delta Museum (2) which has all the local treasures and shows how this area has developed over time.
- Take a ride on the gondolas run by the locals for free. Visit the Eel Pickling Factory Museum 3) to get to know the history of fishing in this area.
- Choose from a variety of boat trips to visit the River Po and the Comacchio lagoons. www.podeltatourism.it
- Visit Comacchio at Halloween, Christmas, Carnival time and in the summer as it has really well-organized events for everyone.
29th September – 15th October (2017) Don’t miss the eel festival (Sagra dell’Anguilla).