Venice and the Italian Lakes
The timeless beauty of Venice has put painters and poets under its spell for centuries. The city is filled with fabulous architectural wonders: the stunning Doges Palace, the Rialto Bridge, Piazza San Marco, the grand palazzos along the Grand Canal, and the opulent churches upholstered with masterpieces. But the real magic of Venice is in its moonlit canals, in the music of Vivaldi, light reflected on the water, the secret passageways in the maze of narrow streets, the barely audible splashes of water, the ever-present scent of candles in Byzantine churches, silent gondolas at sunrise, shimmering and delicate Prosecco wine, and in the translucence of the sea captured in Murano glass.
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 in order to prevent masked men disguised as women from entering convents to seduce nuns, among other reasons. In 1436 the mascareri (mask makers) founded their guild and in the 18th century, masks were used by actors playing the traditional roles of the commedia dell'arte.
Art in Venice
For centuries, Venice has been attracting great writers, musicians and artists. Today, Venice is virtually upholstered with masterpieces. By the year 1500, artists and craftsmen living in the city had developed their own artistic style that differed from that of Florence or Rome, and during the Renaissance, Venice gave birth to a distinct school of painting. Venice's isolation made it less susceptible to outside influences; being a port-of-entry for exotic pigments and dyes made the Venetian artists use them extravagantly.
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. Today, in a world of disappearing cultural borders, the delicate yet simple cooking of Venice retains its uncommon character. Venice still depends on the bounty of the sea. Its cuisine is based on seafood, but it also celebrates the abundance of market gardens on outlying islands, mainland...
Prosecco and Asiago
Throughout the Euganean Hills (Colli Euganei in Italian), wine production is a living art, aided by the natural features of the vineyards, the area's favorable climate and rich volcanic soil. These rolling hills have been famous for their wines since the Roman times and were the private vineyard of the "Serenissima Republic of Venice". Evidence of the production of wine in the area goes back to the first millennium BCE, and grape growing and wine making has been conducted without interruption since then.
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...
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. The history of the region of Veneto is closely linked to the history of Venice which extended its rule over the entire area from the beginning of the 12th century.
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. The name Euganean Hills comes from the Euganei, an ancient people who inhabited the region before the Romans.
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 center 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. Milan’s origin goes back to 400 B.C., when Gauls settled and defeated the Etruscans. In 222 B.C. the city was conquered by Romans and was annexed to the Roman Empire.
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.