Explore the Veneto's many hidden treasures and witness the impact this region has had on the many facet of the Italian way of life. We offer many unique travel experiences on this tour including bicycle routes along the Venetian trading canals, tours of a grapperia and prosecco winery, a visit of the hometown & studio's of one of Europe’s prominent sculptors, as well as examine Palladio’s influence on the world of architecture. The bicycling, with the exception of one day along the gentle rolling foothills of the Dolomites is mostly flat, easy terrain. Yet any route can be altered to include more mileage or a more challenging hilly route for the enthusiast.
This is an ideal tour for a mixed group of cyclist of any age or ability level as well as for families who wish to share the numerous cultural sights and enjoy the exquisite cuisine & wines at a pace & vantage point that only a bicycle allows
2014 Dates: May 11-17 18-24 May 25-31 June 1-7 8-14 Sept 7-13 14-20
We meet in Venice’s famed San Marco’s Square and board a boat for the mouth of the Brenta Canal. This famous canal was tamed in the 17th century and it wasn’t long before the rich and elite were building their Villas along the waterway. As you disembark the bikes will be waiting for you. We soon cross the canal lock and cruise along the quiet Villa-laden canal and note countless palaces, mansions and famous estates including the famous Palladian Villa La Malcontenta. Here we get a taste of what it was like before modern day cars arrived on the scene. It wasn’t long ago the entire canal zone was filled with gondolas and ferry boats being pulled by horses along the shore. In the evenings the party would move from one Villa to another while the many fire flies would illuminate their way. Villa BarbaroOur last stop is the renowned 114 room Villa Pisani, the largest of the Villas constructed in a baroque style and considered to be on a par with great palaces like Versailles. Today it is still considered a National treasure. It is also here where Mussolini chose to first meet Hitler and sign their alliance before WWII. We spend time to tour the Villa and its grounds and may even opt to take a chance of getting through the Hedge Maze reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland. In what I feel is the most charming of the canal towns, picturesque Dolo is where we stay. Before dinner feel free to wander this market town, then after a delightful dinner your opinion is sought regarding our on-going survey of the best Gelateria in the Veneto. Lodging: 3-star Albergo along Brenta Canal. Dinner: family-run trattoria specializing in exquisite seafood.
In the morning we transfer to the foothills of the Dolomites and enchanting Asolo. Although the town was an important Roman municipality in the 1st century its prominence wasn’t secured until 1489 when Venice invested the Queen of Cypress, Caterina Cornaro, where her splendid reign here lasted Sarauntil 1509. Writers, Italian and foreign poets and artists brought by the historical events or attracted by the beauty of this place, visited and loved this city that soon became known as la Città dai cento orizzonti" (the Town of a hundred horizons). The city has maintained a suggestive medieval look and the streets are typical: flanked by the gothic arcades of the old buildings and houses, with their facades decorated with frescos, their gracious mullioned windows and beautiful balconies all situated below the queen’s castle and surrounded within a colorful rural landscape that combine to create what I feel is the prettiest setting in the Veneto Our ride takes us through this rural countryside and a gentle climb along the crest of the gentle hills covered in rows of vineyards, orchards and tiny hamlets. After twenty kilometers on a beautiful car-free bike path that skirts along the flowing canals we stop to view what is considered one of Palladio’s finest works--the Villa Barbaro and soon arrive back in enchanting Asolo for sunset from one of the many idyllic squares. We invite you for a glass of the sparkling regional prosecco before dinner. Lodging: Beautiful 3-star townhouse in the medieval heart of Asolo. Dinner: at a fun Trattoria in town, featuring local specialties.
Ride through the enchanting hills of lush forest surrounding Asolo, past the farmsteads, and the tiny villages of the region. At a quiet hill town nestled at the base of Monte Grappa we arrive at the hometown of one Italy’s most prominent sculptors, Antonio Canova (1757-1822). Here an enormous marble temple is seen for miles around and may be the largest monument dedicated to an artist. We take time to visit Canova’s gypsoteca whereby an examination of the casts, sketches and terracotta models demonstrate the development of many of Canova's works from the drawing board to the masterpieces which made him famous throughout the world. Of special interest is the Statue of George Washington which Canova first sketched, then molded in clay, baked in China clay, cast in plaster and finally carved in marble before shipping it to the United States. Unfortunately the statue was destroyed in a fire making the plaster cast version in Possagno a unique tribute to the first President of the United States. Why you may ask, is the plaster cast of Washington not in the United States? The United States on their part are doing all they can to get their hands on the statue, but Canova was most farseeing. Worried that his successors would dissipate the heritage in plaster and sketches he left the entire collection to the people of Possagno, who, he specifies in his will, can sell the plaster casts only after a unanimous vote of the town's population. So aficionados in the USA are fighting a vain battle. - this precious collection is set to be an integral part of this seemingly unimportant town for a long time yet. From the marble stairs of his neoclassic temple we enjoy ride that glides past the vast views of postcard landscapes and into the Dal Bello winery where we learn how they produce the tiny bubbles of their quality “Prosecco” wines. Lodging: same as day 2 Dinner: Free night out in town
Gentle rolling country roads along the vineyards-lined Cismo River bring us to the fascinating town of Bassano del Grappa. As the name suggests, Grappa (eau de vie) is one of the specialties here. The centuries-old art of colorfully handcrafted ceramics is the other. We treat you to a tour of the ceramic museum, stroll through the picturesque alleyways and have lunch before continuing with our ride to a family-owned Grappa distillery established in the 15th century for a tour and tasting.Grappa Tour We later cycle through the vast farmland and to sleepy villages where two appearances of the Virgin Mary signaled the end of the plague and prompted the construction of a hilltop cathedral. This 17th century basilica now houses two great paintings and is the spot for views of nearby Vicenza. This impressive city turned out to be Palladio’s personal “showcase”; as all the main buildings were designed or reconstructed by him. Filled with colorful markets, cafes and gregarious people this city is a favorite that should not be missed. Lunch: In Bassano del Grappa (café, restaurant or snack bars as well as picnic are options to choose). Lodging: Friendly 3*** hotel in the car free, quiet medieval heart of Vicenza. Dinner: Great family-run Trattoria in the medieval walking district of Vicenza.
We begin the day’s activities with a private guided tour of Vicenza that highlights Villa RotondaPalladio’s architectural wonders including his renowned theater (Europe’s oldest indoor theater!). Our ride either takes us into the Berici hills or in the plains along quiet roads of rural landscape with bike path. Either way we first make our way past the villas of Vicenzan nobility; and visit Palladio’s especially interesting Villa La Rotonda. It was designed to be a pleasure pavilion and was later copied several times including in the U.S.A. for the Jefferson home in Monticello. Both bike routes are very quiet and scenic paths that highlight the Berici hills and the land of the Tocai Rosso wine. After a picnic-lunch we soon pass through the many picturesque medieval villages & remnants of the regions noble past. Then the 24 medieval towers of completely walled Montagnana come into view, a memorable sight that ends a beautiful day of riding. Lodging: Restored medieval 4-star within the walls of Montagnana—(Large, beautiful rooms.) Dinner: outdoor dining in Montagnana
After breakfast we pedal through the tiny hamlets situated along tree-lined canals facing the “green cones”--the Euganei Hills and ascend a path of chestnut and hornbeam trees, vineyards, orchards vegetable gardens and olive groves. Beautiful villas with large gardens as well as medieval castles dot this region that was once treasured by the Roman Empire. The attraction in ancient times as it is today is the curative properties of the nearby hot springs where “fango” mud baths are still enjoyed and can be arranged for anyone who wishes to bathe in the warm, oozing mud. We enjoy a wonderful picnic lunch at the Abbazia di Praglia. This 12th century Benedictine Abbey is the largest in Italy and well know for homeopathic medicine and herbal cosmetics. We transfer back to Montagnana and as the setting sun puts a gentle light on the cobblestone & the red brick of the giant Duomo, we sit under an arcade in the piazza and enjoy a farewell drink before one last feast. Hotel: Same as previous night. Dinner: exquisite award winning specialty restaurant of the hotel we stay--excellent food.
We enjoy a wonderful picnic lunch at the Abbazia di Praglia. This 12th century Benedictine Abbey is the largest in Italy and well know for homeopathic medicine and herbal cosmetics. We transfer back to Montagnana and as the setting sun puts a gentle light on the cobblestone & the red brick of the giant Duomo, we sit under an arcade in the piazza and enjoy a farewell drink before one last feast. Hotel: Same as previous night. Dinner: exquisite award winning specialty restaurant of the hotel we stay--excellent food.
The Veneto region in Italy is one of the most remarkable and romatic regions. It offers visitors a journey through the land of Palladio, Giorgione and Titian, through enchanting mountains and vine carpeted valleys, to some of Italy's most romantic cities.
A land of rolling hills, rivers, lakes and impressive architecture; Veneto is a stunning region in Italy’s north east. Extending from the UNESCO World Heritage listed Dolomites mountain range to the Adriatic Sea, it is rich in character and natural beauty.
Until recently, when one thought of Veneto, one thought immediately, if not almost exclusively, of Venice, partly due to the fact that, for over eleven hundred years, Veneto was an integral part of the Serenissima's territory. Today, Veneto has established its own distinct identity and offers hospitality to numerous visitors eager to explore the many treasures of the region; from the majestic Dolomiti Mountains over which Cortina d'Ampezzo reigns supreme, to the elegant Palladian villas of Vicenza. Then there is Verona, the city of Romeo and Juliet, and home to the imposing Arena, where both important classical concerts and modern music events are performed. Veneto also boasts other splendid cities such as Treviso, Padova, Chioggia, as well as the magnificent Po delta.
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