Venice’s easy access to spectacular scenery and medieval towns is one of its overlooked joys. The region of Veneto includes the Dolomites’ jagged cliffs, and a range of well-preserved villages reachable by public transportation. Here are just two possible getaways.
Verona This ancient Roman city has one of the best-preserved amphitheaters in the world, the Arena, with such fine 2,000-year-old acoustics that opera singers performing in Verona’s nighttime concerts need no microphones. Given that Shakespeare set Romeo and Juliet here, Verona attracts its fair share of romantics and city officials have obliged by designating two houses as the homes of the star-crossed lovers. You can see for miles around from the top of the 14th-century Lamberti Tower. Down below, visit the Renaissance-era Castelvecchio castle, which now houses medieval and Renaissance art. And if you are hungry, you can brave the local specialty, horse meat. The train from Venice runs frequently and takes just over an hour.
Murano, Burano and Torcello Tour companies offer the three islands just off Venice as a long day-trip, although several tourists feel that the visit is too rushed. With some planning, you can reach each island individually by public transportation from Venice, although not all in the same day. Each offers a glimpse of a vastly different life from the city’s congested canals, and a welcome change of pace. Wander around the medieval splendors of Torcello, whose cathedral has intricate golden mosaics. On Burano, famous for lace-making, houses are painted in deep pinks, blues and greens, and restaurants offer the day’s catch from the lagoon. Murano, as you might guess, offers visits to glass factories, with demonstrations of how their famous products are made.