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. They were to prevent masked men disguised as women from entering convents to seduce nuns.
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 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.
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".
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 Cogòli del Tesìn 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.
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.
Lake Como and Bellagio
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.