All Palladian buildings have been included in the Unesco Heritage List since 1994. Our walking tour starts at the Olympic Theatre, the architectural masterpiece of Andrea Palladio and the first indoor theatre in the world. We’ll then stroll in the ancient town through the main street, Corso Palladio, and take charming little roads to visit the Church of Saint Corona, to admire the exceptional Baptism of Jesus Christ by Giovanni Bellini, some of the most renowned gothic palaces, and the Piazza dei Signori with the Basilica. Finally, we will visit Palladio’s first public building, which was recently restored and brought back to its original splendor and the Loggia of the Venetian Captain, Palladio’s most famous attempt to use colored architecture.
Later in the afternoon, we suggest a short excursion to the two most illustrious villas in the area, Villa La Rotonda, and Villa Valmarana ai Nani. Villa La Rotonda inspired Thomas Jefferson in the construction of his own home, Monticello in Virginia. Ever since, Palladio’s influence can be seen throughout the United States. Frescoes by Giambattista and Giandomenico Tiepolo, father and son, can be seen in Villa Valmarana ai Nani. In the midst of their many works, be transported back to a glimpse of life in their era. Vicenza may be a small city and not as well-
Due to its strategic geographical location, Verona has been known over the centuries as the crossroads of flourishing commercial, financial and cultural activities.
We begin our tour in Piazza Bra, renowned for its first century Roman Arena, where world famous operas are still held throughout the summer every year. The nearby pedestrian area holds a variety of sites, including the legendary Juliet’s House with its famous balcony, Piazza delle Erbe with its colorful daily market and the wide façade of the Medieval Palazzo del Commune, along with the tall brick Lamberti’s Tower.
You will be awed by the San Zeno Basilica, a masterpiece of Romanesque architecture, displaying large polychrome walls, a 10th Century crypt, a polyptych by the Renaissance painter Andrea Mantegna and a well preserved cloister.
In the afternoon, we will drive to the nearby Valpolicella area celebrated for its vineyards and the Amarone, one of the most authoritative red aged wines in Italy. A large number of cherry, olive and peach trees are scattered throughout the gentle slopes of the hills which are crowned by small villages where you’ll taste the food specialties of this generous land.
Or if you prefer, we can travel to the walled town of Soave dominated by the original hilltop castle and its magnificent walls. Soave is also the name of the white wine still produced in the area, a renowned wine that is the symbol of this land. The traditional wine is celebrated throughout the year with special events including the Medieval Festival with an evocative costume procession and the Grape Festival, the first in Italy dating back to 1929.
The City of Padua, the capital of 14th century painting on the Venetian Mainland, is still considered a center of art today.
We’ll wander through the picturesque streets, finally arriving at the Scrovegni's Chapel which contains Giotto’s masterpiece. The lives of Jesus and the Virgin Mary are told through Giotto’s newly created style of painting, based on narration and emotion, one of the first attempts to describe feelings, nature and people in a fresco. Our next stop will be at the Church of the Eremitani where you will have the opportunity to admire one of the first works of the young Andrea Mantegna. Annexed from the church is an ancient monastery that today holds the municipal art gallery. As we continue to wander through this area of the city, you’ll also have a chance to visit the 13th century Palace of Reason located between Erbe and Frutta Squares, the Signori Square, and the University of Padua where Galileo taught for almost 20 years.
The extraordinary Basilica of St. Anthony is just few minutes from the Squares. St. Anthony, a Portuguese priest and Franciscan friar, asked to be buried in the original small church dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Thousands of visitors travel to Padua each year to honor his tomb and admire the masterpieces of Donatello and Giotto.
In the afternoon, we can continue on to Praglia in the Euganei hills and Arquà Petrarca, an original 14th century town, where one of the Fathers of the Italian Literature, Francesco Petrarca, lived and died.
The Brenta Canal that connects Venice and Padua became a well-
There are many ways to discover Venice, it can be through a classic tour of the Doges’ Palaces, St. Mark’s Square and Basilica, the Bell Tower and Rialto Bridge, or it can be through its most hidden treasures, some of the secret sites, silent little campielli (little square), not reached by the average tourist. Venetian streets are made of water, with miles of intimate walkways forming a giant maze to explore.
If you have been to Venice before, we can customize a tour just for you to explore the lesser known neighborhoods, islands and canals.
A day dedicated to small charming towns in the Treviso area begins in Asolo, known as “the Pearl of the province of Treviso.” Asolo was the home of the exiled 15th century Queen of Cyprus, Caterina Cornaro and a place of inspiration to artists such as Ernest Hemingway and Robert Browning. From the main square embellished by the Fountain of the Lion, it is possible to see the Rocca, the castle built on the hill during the Middle Ages. With an enchanting walk past exquisite Gothic homes, porticos and frescoed façades, we can reach Queen Cornaro’s castle with breathtaking views of the mountains. Because of this view, the Italian poet Giosuè Carducci, called the city “the town of one hundred horizons”. In Asolo, the numerous gardens and villas attest to the presence of noble families since the Renaissance period. Some of these gardens are opened to the public and can be visited. We can also walk to the opposite side of the hill to enjoy the view and visit the romantic and historical cemetery, where the famous actress Eleonora Duse is buried.
Not far from Asolo is one of the villas included on the UNESCO World Heritage list, the magnificent Villa Barbaro in Maser, designed by Palladio and frescoed by Paolo Veronese. In its rooms the beautiful colors of the frescoes describe everyday life in the 16th century, as well as, allegories and the Greek Gods on Mount Olympus. In the back of the Villa, we can see the Nymph Sanctuary, a very rare example of a pool in a Palladian Villa. The Villa was designed for two noblemen brothers from Venice, Daniele and Marcantonio Barbaro, whose family is artistically represented on the ceilings and walls. The way Paolo Veronese portrayed them is considered one of the most perfect examples of illusion in Italian painting. The Villa is surrounded by hills and vineyards, from which its owners still produce a delicious wine.
Treviso is a vibrant and quaint town not far from Venice. In a few hours we can discover the historical and picturesque town center, rich with canals, water sources and many frescoed homes. We’ll spend time at the Church of Saint Nicolò, where we can see a masterpiece of the disciples of Italian painter Giotto and the Trecento Palace in the Signori Square, the city’s original municipal building, which was bombed and nearly completely destroyed during World War II, but has since been rebuilt to its original grandeur. Beyond the square, local people meet every day in the Fish Market, located on an artificial island built in the middle of the 19th century. It is considered the symbol of the ancient town and the headquarters for the fishing community which moved from Burano. Continuing on to Valdobbiadene, the capital of Prosecco and Cartizze wines, we descend softly from the green hills and vineyards to Conegliano and the cultivated plains. If you so desire, we can stop at a typical local wine cellar to taste the famous Italian sparkling wines.
A stroll around the original walls of Castelfranco Veneto, birthplace of Giorgione, genius among Venetian painters whose works are still considered some of the most mysterious pieces in 16th century art. Although the town is very small, a visit to the Cathedral and the Academy Theater will prove to be interesting examples of 18th century architecture still based on Palladio’s style. All around the town the 12th century walls still retain their beautiful red color. Not far from Castelfranco, a visit to Villa Emo in Fanzolo would well be worth the trip. The Villa was designed by Palladio in the middle of 16th century. It is a perfectly preserved example of a working villa, in which the owner lived during the sowing and harvest seasons. It is still surrounded by the huge fields of corn, stables and the tenants’ homes. Giambattista Zelotti, one of the closest partners of Palladio, frescoed the interiors with subjects from mythology, the Bible and everyday life. On the ground floor there is a permanent exhibit that explains the origin and importance of villas in the Venetian countryside.
Another stunning example of Palladian architecture that cannot be missed is Villa Cornaro Gable in Piombino Dese, the masterpiece by Palladio that inspired plantation houses in Georgia.
Possagno is the hometown of the great sculptor Antonio Canova who after an apprenticeship in Venice moved to Rome and became extremely famous due to his portraits of Napoleon, Paolina Borghese, popes and kings. His original house still stands, decorated and furnished as he left it before he died. The collection of plaster models in the wing of the house called Basilica can help to understand the process of creating a marble statue. Among some of the most famous, there are The Three Graces, Venus and Mars, Love and Psyche and others. The great sculptor is buried in the Temple that he himself designed on the hill above the town. The building recalls the Pantheon in Rome and is considered an interesting example of 19th century architecture based on ancient times but renovated with the spirit of his time.
Another famous artist from the Veneto region is Carlo Scarpa who created a new language in architecture, based on the ancient classic and local traditions and Japanese art. His masterpieces can be found all over Italy, but one of the most outstanding and celebrated building is the Brion Grave. In the Brion Family tomb, Scarpa tried to explain the concept of death as a continuation of life. In the silent countryside, the two tombs are protected by an arch that symbolizes an eternal union. This place was so important to Scarpa that he asked to be buried in a hidden corner inside the monument.
A nice discovery for the refined tourist is Marostica, a walled town built in the 14th century, famous for the human chess game and special local products such as cherries, asparagus and liquor. Since Marostica lies between a valley and a hill, it is a rare example of a walled town with two castles, one on the hill and one enclosed in the walls on the plain. It is interesting to walk along the walls and to visit the Museum of Costumes, in which copies of the 15th century Chess Game costumes are displayed. The Chess Game is performed during the second weekend of September every two years, on even years.
Not far from Marostica there is another elegant little town, Bassano del Grappa. Founded next to the Brenta River at the foot of Mount Grappa, the city is now famous for the battles fought in the vicinity during World War I. A walk to the town center will lead us to discover some of the hidden treasures of the Italian land: the simple brick Church of St. Francis, the Clock Tower in the Main Square, the frescoed houses and above all the extraordinary Ponte Vecchio, the covered wooden bridge, also known as the Bridge of the Alpine Troopers.
Our visit can also include another Palladian Villa, Villa Godi Malinverni in Lugo, Palladio’s first masterpiece. The villa is still celebrated as one of the most interesting examples of a castle transformed into a villa. The buildings are still surrounded by rare Italian gardens and the rooms are so well preserved they are considered the beginning of a new way of painting in the Veneto Region.
Our tour can be completed with a visit to a traditional wine cellar or a Grappa factory in the area.
Cittadella: a typical example of medieval fortified town, it is entirely surrounded by beautiful elliptical walls built in the 13th century. Among monuments and buildings that can be found in its center, special mention must be made of the Cathedral, the Social Theater, the Malta Tower and the Franciscan Monastery.
Montagnana: an interesting example of medieval military architecture. In the center it is possible to visit the imposing Cathedral and elegant patrician palaces, such as Villa Pisani attributed to Palladio.
Villa Poiana: located in Poiana Maggiore designed by Palladio, it is an interesting example of a villa built in the countryside, with an extraordinary interpretation of the Palladian window in the façade.
Peschiera del Garda and Valeggio sul Mincio: an unforgettable walk on the long bridge and an occasion to taste the handmade nodi d’amore (“love knots”, a local pasta similar to a tortellino).
Lazise: a town still within medieval walls.
Bardolino, Garda and Torri del Benaco: picturesque towns in which the blue of the lake blends with the reds of the castles, walls and little medieval churches.
Malcesine: see the beautiful view from the tower to understand the reason why Goethe and Klimt were moved by the beauty of this place.
Sanctuary of the Madonna of Monte Berico: a beautiful baroque church built in the 15th century during the plague in Vicenza.
Palladio and religious architecture: St. George the Greater and the Redentore, two of the most charming churches in Venice.
Sanctuary of the Madonna della Corona in Spiazzi: built on an ancient pilgrimage road to honor the statue of the Virgin Mary which miraculously arrived from Rhodes.
The Abbey of Follina and the hills of Valdobbiadene.
Mount Grappa and Asiago: tombs and monuments dedicated to the soldiers who died during the war. Mount Grappa is one of the main settings of World War I. Beyond its historical interest; it has remarkable natural landscapes, ideal for trekking, hiking and paragliding.
Visit the battlefields of Montello and Vittorio Veneto, to remember the sacrifice and the victory.
Marmolada Mountain with a visit to the perennial Glacier.
Misurina Lake, Cortina and the "Tre Cime" (three peaks).
Belluno: with its easy to reach historical city center, we can offer two itineraries, a medieval tour dedicated to old towers, gates and castles or a Renaissance tour to discover some of the artists who worked in the city and left their masterpieces in churches, palaces and museums.
The old town of Feltre is still inside the beautiful gates, Porta Imperiale and Porta Pusterla. Under the Cathedral it is possible to visit the archeological area built by the Romans. Another jewel to visit is the Sanctuary of St. Vittore and Corona, a Romanesque church with Byzantine influence.
Excursions on horse and bicycle are available to visit the wooden Alpine cabins.