There is no denying that Venice is beautiful and all; I enjoyed my time there, of course I did – you can’t really say you’ve been to Italy until you’ve experienced a Gondola ride through Venice, right? No matter how cliché that is.
Venice was never on my original Italy itinerary; I try to avoid tourist hot spots but I was visiting some friends in Treviso, and I thought “When in Rome”… or “When in Treviso” as the correct saying may be! But what else does this region of Italy have to offer?
Treviso is a small town in the Veneto district which is sadly overshadowed due to its proximity to Venice. The town comprises of an intricate network of canals and a labyrinth of twisty cobbled streets – somewhat similar to those in Venice, but with a much more peaceful and tranquil ambience. Piazza dei signori is the central square of Treviso, lined with cafes and restaurants. Tiramisu was invented here [and I am always appreciative of any founding fathers of desserts!].
Why would you want to visit some of these smaller towns and villages you ask? This is your chance to experience the true Italian lifestyle away from the tourist hoards and enjoy the values that Italians hold close to their hearts – good food, good wine, and good company – La dolce far niente!
If you’re flying specifically to Venice, you will likely fly into Venice Treviso airport, particularly if you are travelling from within Europe or on a budget airline – so why not take a day, to enjoy a more traditional Italy, before you travel on to the popular sites of Venice?
As you ascend the twisting, winding hill roads and pass through the fragrant olive groves, you will find your way to Asolo, a small medieval hamlet high in the hills of the Veneto region. It is nicknamed “the town with 100 horizons” due to its beautiful 360 degree views.
It’s a little known place, but my favourite in Italy – and that is a bold statement. Literary aficionados may resonate here – a number of writers and poets have lived here or simply visited and fallen in love with Asolo. Ernest Hemingway lived here for a period of time, as did Freya Stark who labeled it as the source of her inspiration.
You will find no overpriced souvenir stores here; no stores aimed at tourists whatsoever for that matter. What you will find, is stores selling great local produce – olive oil produced from the local groves, Prosecco made in the nearby wine region and fromageries of Artisan cheeses.
Traditional Italian hamlets and villages such as Asolo still participate in medieval “games” where the residents will compete against those from a neighbouring village – just as I was leaving, they were commencing a game of human chess amongst the villages!
The Veneto region is now an important wine region in Italy, home to Soave and Prosecco. You can organise a Wine tasting tour, or simply arrange a visit directly with the Vineyards that interest you.
What were your thoughts on Venice and the Veneto region of Italy?