Pre- and post-cruise stays should include not only Venice but also the surrounding region in northeastern Italy known as Veneto.
Exceptionally varied, Veneto offers cruise passengers more than 200 excursions — ranging from visits to vineyards, Veneto villas and historic cities to mountain bike adventures and alpine hikes.
As wine and food are essential experiences to any Veneto visit, we provide vineyards and restaurants recommended by the Veneto Branch of Slow Food (www.slowfood.com), an international organization that promotes food and wine culture.
Slow Food’s “Seal of Approval” assures the highest standards in food and wine products. The Slow Food movement began in 1986 in a small restaurant serving local specialties in the north Italian town of Bra and has since grown to become an 83,000-strong international movement against living in the fast lane.
A little more than 60 miles from Venice are the Dolomites, mountains characterized by impressive snow-covered peaks, awe-inspiring views, charming hamlets, onion-domed churches and Tyrolean farmsteads (the fact that German is widely spoken in this region reflects the strong historic links with the Austrian Tyrol).
A winter-sports mecca, the Dolomites offer skiing year-round as well as nature hikes and other outdoor activities. Cansiglio, a high plateau of vast pastures and woods, is known for its dairies, which provide high-quality milk as well as organic butter and cheese.
Slow Food Recommended Restaurants: The area of Alpago is home to two of Italy’s finest restaurants, Dolada and Locanda San Lorenzo, which alone are worth the trip to the Dolomites.
An hour’s drive from Venice, Verona is home to the Shakespearean lovers Romeo and Juliet (the real lovers died here in 1303). The city is one of noble palaces, quiet cloisters, fine Renaissance gardens and an amphitheater (the world’s third largest) completed in AD 30.
Verona appears to have been predestined to become one of Veneto’s wine capitals, a fact apparent to anyone who visits the two squares that represent the hub of the city: the Bra, overlooked by the Arena, and piazza delle Erbe. Spoking off of these squares through a tangle of back streets is the Osterie, where small inns have outlived changes in fashions and time to offer the best of traditional Veronese cuisine.
Slow Food Recommended Restaurants: Al Bersagliere and Al Pompiere.
Slow Food Recommended Winery: Allegrini vineyards at Fumane produces some of the region’s highest quality wines.
Within easy reach of Verona is Italy’s largest lake, Lake Garda, situated between the Dolomites and the Po River plain.
Nearby, Vicenza is known as the city of Andrea Palladio, the most influential architect during his lifetime (1508-1580). His distinctive style is evident throughout the city.
Slow Food Recommended Winery: Just a few miles from Vicenza, on the hills around Marostica and Breganze, is Cantina Beato Bartolomeo da Breganze, producer of the excellent Torcolato, Vespaiolo, Merlot and other autochthonous wines.
Padua is a university town 25 miles from Venice. The university, founded in 1222, is the second oldest in Italy. A major museum complex, Eremitani, features the paintings of Giotto di Bondone, the most important Italian painter of the 14th century, and Andrea Mantegna, northern Italy’s first Renaissance artist.
Slow Food Recommended Restaurant and Winery: Near Padua, Count Giordano Emo Capodilista’s wine-producing company is one of the best in the Veneto region. Located at Selvazzano in the Euganean Hills, a region formed by ancient volcanos and well known for its thermal spas, the winery is named for the villa where it is located: Montecchia. Join a hosted tasting, then head for the nearby Montecchia Golf Club, home to one of the region’s most prestigious restaurants.
A bus or boat tour along the 22-mile Riviera del Brenta (a canal between Venice and Padua) takes visitors past fine patrician villas that were built as summer residences for 17th century Venetian aristocracy. With the exception of Venice, Riviera del Brenta is undoubtedly the area of Veneto with the greatest tradition in seafood.
Slow Food’s Recommended Restaurant: La Ragnatela, in Mirano, for fresh seafood characteristic of the Venetian style.