Spread across 118 small islands, each separated by canals and linked by bridges, the city of Venice is as famous for its unique setting as is it is for its spectacular architectural beauty. Dotted with ornate palaces, charming piazzas, ancient cathedrals decorated with world-renowned masterpieces, the entire city is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The grand Basilica di San Marco has pride of place in the centre square, while the elegant Rialto Bridge and gondoliers navigating their way through the city indulge in the limelight accorded to them by visitors, photographers and painters, as well as proud locals.
Hidden within the walls of a 16th-century palazzo and overlooking the magnificent Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute, the stylish Ca Maria Adele is a fantastic boutique hotel option in Venice and in a great location too: walking distance from the main sights but quietly removed from the hustle and bustle. For a touch of glamour, Belmond Hotel Cipriani is the place to go. Nestled within beautiful gardens, and with sensational views of Doge’s Palace, this Venetian luxury hotel is a destination in itself.
The surrounding Veneto region has much to offer besides the famous waterways of Venice. Verona is famous as the fictional home of Romeo & Juliet (as well as the setting of two of Shakespeare’s other plays) but has plenty of real-world attractions beyond the slightly contrived Casa di Giulietta. Giardino Gusti are a masterpiece of Renaissance landscape gardening, and the Basilica di Sant’Anastasia dates from the 13th-15th centuries and has a beautiful vaulted ceiling.
Padua has a university dating from the 13th century, and the city’s long and rich cultural history is evident in numerous other buildings. The Cappella degli Scrovegni is home to beautiful frescoes by Giotto, the forefather of the Renaissance, and the Basilico di Sant’Antonio is an important Catholic pilgrimage site and the burial place of St. Anthony of Padua. Wine lovers will also find themselves at home in the Veneto – the area around Conegliano is scattered liberally with acclaimed producers.