We'll see La Scala and the Last Supper in the uber-chic Milan, relax at the romantic Lake Como with Bellagio, opulent villas, tropical gardens and the majestic Alps, visit Juliet's house in Verona and fall in love with the magical Venice: the mysterious canals filled with gondolas, Piazza San Marco, Doges' Palace, the Bridge of Sighs, sumptuous palazzos along the Grand Canal, La Fenice and the glorious Venetian art. We'll marvel at stories of forbidden love as you ride the gondola, listen to Vivaldi or watch Murano artisans produce glass masterpieces.
No one comes to Venice for the first time. We have become so familiar with photographs of the Palazzo Ducale, of the Basilica di San Marco, the grand palaces along the Canal Grande, the gondolas, Rialto Bridge, the pigeons and the sunsets, that it might seem impossible to discover something that would surprise a visitor here.
The Masks of Venice
Like glass blowing, the craft of mask making achieved the status of art in Venice. In the time of the Republic, Venetians wore masks all year, every day to go about town incognito. In 1268, laws regulating the use of masks in Venice were introduced. They were to prevent masked men disguised as women from entering convents to seduce nuns.
Vivaldi, Bellini and Pink Floyd
For centuries, Venice has been attracting great writers, musicians and artists. The city has been a stage set since Shakespeare's "Merchant of Venice" through John Berendt's "City of Falling Angels." From Casanova in "Story of My Life" to James Bond in "Casino Royale", Venice has been the city where dreams are made. From Vivaldi's Four Seasons to the famous Pink Floyd concert held on a floating platform in the middle of Grand Canal, Venice inspired, seduced and showcased the genius in many genres, and no group surpassed the artists.
Venice is a place of mystical Byzantine mosaics, serpentine arabesques, fantastic color, but above all, a place of rich and exotic flavors. Over one thousand years, the city has created a vibrant cuisine reflecting the empire's riches.
Prosecco and Asiago
Throughout the Euganean Hills, wine production is a living art, aided by the natural features of the vineyards, the area's favorable climate and rich volcanic soil. Colli Euganei, Euganean Hills have been famous for their wines since the Roman times and were the private vineyard of the "Serenissima Republic of Venice".
Venice is a city of light and color, but also a city of glass. Glass as ". . . sea made solid, its translucence captured and held immobile." And nowhere is this translucence more visible than on the island of Murano, where the world's most elite brands of glass art - Venini, Barovier & Toso, Pauly, Seguso - share the same shady squares with artisan workshops and old glass factories, some with traditions going back to 1292, when the glass making industry was moved from Venice to Murano. True Murano glass is made from silica extracted from the CogÚli del Tesžn basin. It is considered the purest and clearest glass to be found anywhere on earth.
The Veneto region is full of small town and villages, which are treasure troves of art and beacons of fine living. The region is sunny, wealthy, lively yet quiet and intimate, and it seduces and wins over the lovers of wine, art, history and architecture. The area is dotted with romantic Roman ruins, Palladian villas and lined with picturesque world-class vineyards.
Within an hour of Venice, near the Renaissance Padua, rise the isolated, rounded cones of the Colli Euganei. These volcanic formations, known in English as the Euganean Hills, surround Abano Terme. Forests of oak and chestnut alternate with grapevines and Mediterranean almond trees, and the refined architecture of the sumptuous Veneto villas narrates centuries of history, art and tradition.
Monks, Artists and Madmen
The city of Padua is the expression of a culture of well-being with a history and tradition that are unique in the world. This is where the Renaissance was born, well before it reached Florence, and it all started in a chapel which was being decorated by the humble genius: Giotto di Bandone. Georgio Vasari tells a story of how Cimabue, a well-known Florentine painter, saw the 12-year-old Giotto sketching sheep on a flat rock and was so impressed with his talent that he took him to study painting at his workshop. The boy quickly surpassed his master and went on to create first a series of frescoes on the life of St. Francis of Assisi, then the masterpiece at Scrovegni Chapel in Padua.
Milan, the capital of the region of Lombardy, is the biggest industrial city of Italy with many different industrial sectors. It is a magnetic point for designers, artists, photographers and models. Milan has an ancient city centre with high and interesting buildings and palazzos, which is why so many people from all over the world want to see the city of glamour.
Just half an hour from noisy, bustling Milan, Lake Como is a jewel-like oasis of tranquillity, a magical combination of lush Mediterranean foliage and snowy alpine peaks. One of the best vantage points for this breathtaking view is in Piazza Cavour, on the banks of the lake in the town of Como. The cathedral here is often cited as the best example of transitional architectural styles: to immediately understand what this means, compare the stunning gothic façade with the 18th-century dome above it.
On the southern shore of Lake Como is Bellagio, la perla del lago (the pearl of the lake). Thanks to its narrow cobbled streets, breathtaking views, impeccable homes and glorious villa gardens, many consider this to be the most beautiful town in all of Europe. Read More