80° BY THE SEA
Looking for a beach vacation? Let us help you find the right spot.More
Reservations are required to see the Giotto frescoes in Padua's Cappella degli Scrovegni—though if there's space, you can "reserve" on the spot.
On the outskirts of Vicenza, Villa della Rotonda, one of star-architect Palladio's masterpieces, is open to the public only from mid-March through mid-November, and only on Wednesday and Saturday. (Hours for visiting the grounds are less restrictive.)
Another important Palladian villa, Villa Barbaro near Maser, is open weekends and several days during the week from March to October. From November to February, it's open only on weekends.
If you plan to take in an opera at the Arena di Verona, buy tickets as early as you can, since they sell out quickly. Also, book a room for the evening in Verona, as you are likely to miss the last train back to Venice.
Lined up in a row west of Venice are Padua, Vicenza, and Verona—three prosperous small cities that are each worth at least a day on a trip out of Venice. Verona has the greatest charm, and it's probably the best choice if you’re going to visit only one of these cities, even though it also draws the biggest crowds of tourists.
East of Venice, the region of Friuli–Venezia Giulia is off the main tourist circuit, but you may be drawn by its caves and castles, its battle-worn hills, and its mix of Italian and Central European culture. The port city of Trieste, famous for its elegant cafés, has quiet character that some people find dull and others find alluring.
There are interurban and interregional connections throughout the Veneto and Friuli, handled by nearly a dozen private bus lines. To figure out which line will get you where, the best strategy is to get assistance from local tourist offices.
Padua, Vicenza, and Verona are on the highway and train line between Venice and Milan. Seeing them without a car isn't a problem; in fact, having a car can complicate matters. The cities sometimes limit access, permitting only cars with plates ending in an even number on even days, odd on odd, or prohibiting cars altogether on weekends. The only place in which a car would be really useful is Aquileia, since public transportation there is somewhat limited, although still possible.
The A4, the primary route from Milan to Venice and Trieste, skirts Verona, Padua, and Udine along the way. Driving time, in normal traffic, from Venice to Padua is 30 minutes; Venice to Vicenza, 60 minutes, and to Verona 90 minutes. Heading east out of Venice, Aquileia is about 90 minutes, Udine about 90 minutes, and Trieste 120 minutes.
Trains on the main routes from Venice stop almost hourly in Verona, Vicenza, and Padua.
To the west of Venice, the main line running across the north of Italy stops at Padua (30 minutes from Venice), Vicenza (1 hour), and Verona (1½ hours); to the east is Trieste (2 hours).
Be sure to take express trains whenever possible—a local "milk run" that stops in every village along the way can take considerably longer. The fastest trains are the Eurostars, but reservations are obligatory and fares are much higher than on regular express trains.
Information (892021. www.trenitalia.com.)
There's a full range of accommodations throughout the region. Ask about weekend discounts, often available at hotels catering to business clients. Rates tend to be higher in Padua and Verona; in Verona especially, seasonal rates vary widely and soar during trade fairs and the opera season. There are fewer good lodging choices in Vicenza, perhaps because more overnighters are drawn to the better restaurant scene in Verona and Padua. Agriturismo (farm stay) information is available at tourist offices and sometimes on their websites.
Prices in the reviews are the lowest cost of a standard double room in high season.