Places to see in Veneto
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If the crowds in Venice overwhelm you, the nearby seaport town of Chioggia is in many ways a miniature replica, replete with a vast cathedral, fine palazzi and a warren of canals. The only thing missing is the tourists. Continuing south from here you'll come to the beautiful sandy beach at Rosolina Mare, where a cool, luxurious pine forest makes a perfect spot for a swim and a picnic, especially if you're traveling with children. Nature lovers and romantics will want to head just a bit further and experience the beauty of the mighty Po Delta.

Turning inland along route 443, you'll pass Adria, a sleepy little river town that was an ancient Roman center. Now it marks the edge of the Veneto's famed villa territory, and it's a gateway to Rovigo, home to a great museum called the Accademia dei Concordi, an ornate belltower designed by Longhena, and three tiers of frescoes representing the life of Mary in the Madonna del Soccorso church. From here we hop onto the A13 autostrada heading north, stopping briefly in three delightful little hill towns: first Monselice, then Este, which has a 14th-century walled castle and a renowned canvas by Tiepolo in its cathedral, and then Arquà Petrarca, a medieval village which appropriated the name of its most famous former resident, Francesco Petrarch.

Lord Byron loved this area, called the Euganean Hills. Try to visit it on weekdays when it's less crowded, so you can enjoy its cheerful trattorie and blessedly cool breezes. After lunch, head west on route 10 to the fairy-tale walled town of Montagnana. Still preserving most of its original medieval flavor, it has a magnificent town square, and there's a lovely Veronese Transfiguration over the altar in the 15th-century cathedral.

Now take Route 247 north to Acugliaro, then turn east toward the spa town of Abano Terme. After a few miles you'll come to the Benedictine monastery of Praglia, a peaceful complex of Renaissance buildings with excellent views of the hills, some fine paintings and a famous center for restoring old books. If you're around during Mass, you may hear some beautiful Gregorian chants.

Scrovegni Chapel
Padua the Erudite is second oldest university town in Europe, only a short train ride from Venice. One of the most unforgettable things to see in Padua is the 16th-century anatomy theatre in the Bo, the palazzo which also houses the Law School and the desk from which Galileo gave his lectures. You'll want to visit the Scrovegni Chapel (exquisitely frescoed by Giotto), the excellent Civic Museum, the fresco cycle in the baptristy of the cathedral and the famous romanesque-gothic church of Sant'Antonio. One of the most richly decorated churches in all of Italy, the locals simply call it "Il Santo." Andrea Mantegna's monumental frescoes in the church of the Eremiti are breathtaking, despite being heavily damaged in World War II. And do walk over to Prato della Valle, supposedly the largest piazza in Europe.

Back on the highway, take Route 47 north to Cittadella, another walled town. Unlike Montagnana, this fortress has circular walls made of bricks layered with pebbles from the Brenta River. Try to peep in at the small 19th-century theatre. A short detour takes you to Castelfranco Veneto, another walled town, birthplace of Giorgione. Two of his works are visible here: in the Casa di Giorgione, a frieze symbolizes the liberal and mechanical arts, and in the cathedral, the Castelfranco Madonna is to the right of the choir. [Human Chess Game in Marostica]

[Human Chess Game in Marostica]
Travelling west on Route 245 you'll come to yet another version of the walled town. Marostica's bastions climb straight up the hill, overlooking the exquisite medieval square where a costumed human chess game is played every other year in September. Vineyards abound here, producing the white wine that takes its name from the nearby town of Soave.

It's just a quick run north to Bassano del Grappa, home of the delicious and heady after-dinner spirits, and picturesque location of a wooden bridge built in the 16th century by Palladio. A warm and friendly town, Bassano has many old monuments and an excellent museum, and it is the gateway to the Pre-Alps, headquartered up the road in Belluno. Skiers, mountain climbers and alpine enthusiasts will love the villages strewn among these hills and dales. Take a few days to relax here. Drive on up the valley to look for movie stars in the world-famed resort of Cortina, or veer off to Pieve di Cadore, a remote mountain hamlet where you can visit the home of Titian and see one of his paintings in the local church. This great artist's works are scattered all over the towns in this area, by the way. Tracking them down can be great fun. [Titian's house]
Bassano del Grappa

The provincial road that connects Belluno and Bassano del Grappa has been nicknamed "la strada del prosecco." Click on the links below for our selected lodgings in this area:

Bassano del Grappa

The Belvedere is a popular place to eat in Bassano del Grappa (Viale delle Fosse 1; tel. 011-39-0424-524988). There's a prix fixe menu featuring all sorts of delicious local specialties. Moderate; closed Sundays and August.

And do try Belle Parti-Toulà (Via Belle Parti 11, tel. 011-39-049-875-1822) in Padua for truly wonderful local food at extremely reasonable prices (about 20 Euro/person). Reservations required; closed Mondays and August.

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