Experience the countryside that lies beyond the canals by going rural and exploring Italy’s rich provincial pastures.
Overshadowed by its island neighbour for centuries, Padua (on the mainland to the west of Venice) is an ancient walled city with a rich cultural heritage of its own, providing the setting for much of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew.
There’s plenty to see for the eagle eyed art lovers; works by the likes of Donotello, Giotti and Titian grace the walls of the city’s churches. With a cobbled old town and medieval piazzas lined with cafes and antique shops as well as the Unesco-listed botanical gardens, Padua makes a relaxed base for those who want to avoid Venice’s heaving streets.
Ice cream coloured houses, winding alleyways where canals once flowed and sultry squares make Caorle a seaside city to savour, just an hour’s drive along the coast between two other well-known tourist towns, Eraclea and Bibione.
Combining an historical old town with its requisite Roman Cathedral and network of lively narrow streets, Caorle enjoys coastline that skirts the warm seas of the Adriatic as well as a lively port. A family friendly resort, it plays host to a community of artists who carve the rocks along the West coast promenade, with new works added each July in an event known as the ‘Scogliera Viva.’
Situated at the northern base of Monte Berico, Vicenza is an architectural treasure trove and birthplace of Renaissance architect Palladio, who designed important buildings within the city including the Olympic Theatre and the Basilica Palladiana, considered by many to be his masterpiece.
Named a Unesco World Heritage Site in 1994, the city, famed for its gold and leather products, remains one of Italy’s wealthiest and boasts a cosmopolitan outlook, partly as a result of being owned by Austria for much of the 19th Century. Wander streets rich in culture punctuated by elegant porticos and piazzas, and enjoy local delicacy Baccala alla vincentina; salt fish poached in milk served with polenta.
1 hour 5 minutes
Grab a breath of fresh air with a visit to Asolo, nestled in the Prosecco Hills, and surrounded by the Dolomite Mountains. This ancient village, now bijoux city, is known as the pearl of the province of Trevis.
Once home to the English poet Robert Browning, this ‘City of a Hundred Horizons’ offers plenty of inspiration. From the breathtaking views from the Rocca di Asolo, a castle built around the early 13th Century, to beautiful drives in the surrounding hills through olive groves, escaping the tourist trail allows you a glimpse of provincial Italy at its most pleasing.
1 hour 20 minutes
Further up the coast, Grado, known as the sunny island, has become a popular tourist destination for those seeking unspoiled and uncomplicated beauty.
Originally a medieval town, its network of lagoons and thermal baths has fuelled its 20th century evolution from a fishing port into well-heeled spa and beach resort, complete with water park and health centre. While modernity has compromised some of the town’s attractiveness, its charming old town with its covered market, stunning churches and newer promenades offer a pleasant compromise between prettiness and practicality that has seen it soar in popularity, particularly among families.
1 hour 40 minutes