The Veneto and Neighbouring Regions
There are lots of beautiful cities and towns to visit outside in the Veneto region and beyond, all easily accessible by rail. Rail travel tends to be cheap in Italy, especially if you opt for the slower regional trains. For my information about Italian trains take a look at the Trenitalia website as well advice provided by The Man in Seat 61. Here are some of the cities and islands I explored, within my student budget.
Treviso: Most commonly known as the airport for the airline Easy Jet, Treviso is actually a beautiful Italian town and well worth a visit. Only 25 minutes away from Venice by rail it is easily doable for a day trip, or even just a morning or afternoon. The town has lots of small, interesting shops, as well as coffee bars and a food market.
Padua: This bustling and vibrant city is only 40 minutes away from Venice. The History of Art students take a trip to Padua, organised by the university. Yet it is easy to arrange your own transport via train if you are a History student. Do not miss Giotto’s magnificent frescoes in the Scrovegni Chapel, the Palazzo della Ragione and the Basilica of Saint Anthony of Padua.
Verona: Made famous by Shakespeare’s star-crossed lovers, Romeo and Juliet, Verona should certainly be on your list of places to visit. The journey between Venice and Verona by train is roughly 45 minutes. A highlight of our visit was the Verona Arena.
The capital of the Friuli region, mentioned by Carlo Ginzburg is his work, The Cheese and the Worms
, is north of Venice. Though rather quiet, it is worth a visit. However, be mindful of Italian opening hours. It is worth going in the morning or later in the afternoon, as places can close for long lunch breaks.
Known for its unbeatable food, Bologna does not disappoint. We headed to Ristorante Cesarina
, the Bolognaise was delicious as were the Lasagne and Tiramisu. Ask the waiter if you can try some Balsamic Glaze.
Exploring the lagoon’s many islands can be pricey. Prices for the vaporetto are greatly increased for tourists. Depending on the length of your stay in Venice it may be worth investing in a years vaporetto pass, which entitles you to substantial discounts. Students are able to buy this card at a good price. However, Actv require prove that you are part of the Ca Foscari University, rather than a foreign university. If you decide against buying a pass, you can save a little money by buying a ticket valid for the whole day and heading off to numerous islands at a time. Check out more information on fares and travel cards here.
The Lido: Best visited early on in the term, so the beach and a dip in the sea can be enjoyed! The beach is rather deserted October and November and you’ll certainly get a few strange looks if you go for a swim. However, the Lido is good fun and if you walk straight across the island you can find a long beach and a bar that serves food and a reasonably prized Spritz overlooking the sea.
Found south of Venice, the Giudecca can be seen from Dorsoduro and San Marco. This small island is home to I Redentore, a beautiful church which is included on the Chorus Pass. The island is also home to the swanky Molino Stucky Hilton, a converted a factory.
Isola di San Giorgio Maggiore:
Just along from the Giudecca you will find the Isola di San Giorgio Maggiore. Visit San
Giorgio Maggiore, the church that you can see from Saint Mark’s Square, and take the lift up the Campanile for spectacular views across the city of Venice.
Murano: In the sixteenth century Venice moved any dangerous trades to its surrounding islands; Murano glass has become famous around the world for style and quality. Throughout Venice you will find shops selling Murano glass, often alongside cheaper imported glass (shops legally have to tell you if it is imported). Murano is small and quiet, mainly made up of glass shops and factories.
Burano: One of the most beautiful of Venice’s islands, the colourful houses of Burano are almost surreal. Originally local fishermen painted their houses different colours to enable them to distinguish their houses, now the island is overrun with tourists.
Originally Torcello had a greater population than Venice, hard to believe when you visit the island. With only a couple of cafes and a few small hotels and houses, the main purpose for a visit to the island is the stunning Byzantine mosaics of the Torcello Cathedral.
San Michele: This tiny walled island is home to Venice’s cemetery. On the 1 November free vaporetto are run to the island for local Venetians to pay their respect to loved ones. However, you can also use this service to visit the island. The well cared for grave yard, covered in flowers, is a moving site. You can also visit the island on other days by paying the usual vaporetto charge.