The Veneto is filled, on one hand, with rolling hills and elegant mountains and on the other with historic canals, lagoons and the sea. Sandwiched between the sea and hills are the provinces of Verona and Vicenza.
Here, all of Veneto's elements come together beautifully to create a wondrous area for locals and an even better one for tourists looking for varied cuisine.
Verona, a city of Roman origin, is nestled along the banks of the river Adige. A wondrous city to travel, Verona is the home-town of famed lovers Romeo and Giulietta, of the open-air opera performed in a Roman arena and of VinItaly, the most important wine fair in Italy, held annually in the springtime.
Your first stop should be to Verona's Piazza delle Erbe market, which takes place six days a week. It's best to go here in early morning when you first wake, when the light in the piazza reflects off the pastel and apricot colored brick buildings.
For a mid-day snack, La Boutique del Gelato (via Ederle 045-830-1113) will definitely hit the spot. All the bases at this gelateria are made with only fresh and seasonal fruit. With over 30 flavors to choose from, this is an exceptional detour you must take.
For dinner, Locanda di Castelvecchio (045-803-0097) is a traditional Veronese trattoria run by Armando Bordin, located just across the street from the Castelvecchio Museum. The kitchen serves classic dishes such as pasta e fagioli and a tremendous bollito misto served with typical sauces of Verona: mostarda, salsa verde, pearà and horseradish.
A short distance from Verona is Lago di Garda or Lake Garda – the biggest lake in Italy; it is only a 25 minute drive northwest. Traveling from Verona into the Lake District, it becomes quite clear that Garda has a culture entirely unto itself. Being so close to the mountains, the German influence is apparent, as roadside stands advertise in both Italian and German. Garda is best known for its freshwater fish and Mediterranean cuisine.
About 35 miles from Verona on autostrada A4 in the other direction is Vicenza – known for its medieval castles, walled cities and Palladian villas. Situated at the junction of the Bacchiglione and Retrone rivers, Vicenza is a commercial and manufacturing center. Products include textiles, iron and steel. The town is noted for its splendid churches, palaces, and other buildings, many of which were designed by the architect Andrea Palladio. Parts of a 13th-century wall that encircled the town are still standing.
Although it lacks a coastline and has no lakes, Vicenza, of all provinces of the Veneto, is the one most aligned with the cooking of Venice. Its cuisine reflects its prosperous roots – displaying both agricultural traditions and aristocratic influences. Nowhere is this more obvious than in La Scudo di Francia (Contrà Piancoli 4, 0444-323-322) This elegant restaurant in the center of town in a gothic Venetian palace, which is both beautiful and regal.
To start the meal, order the local soppressa and then move on to their pasta, which is all homemade. Their ravioli with sautéed radicchio topped with saffron-flavored cream sauce is heavenly. Desserts are a simple, yet elegant end to a perfect meal. If you have time to travel beyond the city limits, visit Bassano del Grappa. Just a short drive northeast, it is one of Vicenza’s most lovely towns, and gives its name to the famous asparagus for which the region is well-known. The local trattorias in this town won’t disappoint with its ample offerings of local vegetables