North-eastern Italy: for lovers of art and architecture

Donald Strachan's verdict on North-eastern Italy

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Donald Strachan

Donald Strachan 
HomeAway travel expert

North-eastern Italy for art and architecture lovers For centuries, north-eastern Italy was a collection of squabbling provinces and city-states, republics and dukedoms. Great powers—and art fashions—came and went. Each one left a mark that that you can still see today. Venice and its legacy is everywhere you look.

But there is maybe nowhere in Europe with so much artistic and architectural variety crammed into so little space as the plains and hills of Friuli and the Veneto.



  • Trains: The Italian north-east is criss-crossed by rail tracks. If you are staying within easy reach of a station, you don’t need a car for your whole stay. Local trains are cheap and reliable, though by no means luxurious. For voyages over longer distances, on high-speed services, book tickets ahead of arrival using an agent such as International Rail. Planning ahead will save you big money on same-day fares. Check timetables online.
  • Wine: Leave time for some wine. The northern climate is suited to white grapes, and its wines retain a sharp, crisp hit of acidity to balance the aromatic grape flavours. In Friuli ask for the local friuliano grape. The best Soave (Superiore DOCG) grows in a small zone between Verona and Vicenza. Among the reds, Valpolicella and Bardolino make good daytime picnic wines. Amarone is a different beast: the concentrated, semi-dried grapes make a concentrated, dry, almost black wine that is best paired with powerful meats like beef or game.


North-eastern destinations for lover of art and architecture


Vicenza Vicenza

You would hardly know this genteel little city was home to the world’s most influential architect of the last millennium. Andrea Palladio’s Renaissance designs have been copied all over the world, as far afield as the Capitol in Washington, D.C. In the centre, his Teatro Olimpico is packed with theatrical trickery and optical illusion. The Basilica Palladiana was hit by an Allied bomb in 1945, but was brought back from the brink by a recent €15 million restoration. The Palladio-designed Villa Rotonda, on a hill outside the city, shaped the symmetrical designs of country houses all over rural England.

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Venice Venice

The whole idea of marooning a city in a massive lagoon, and building it over multiple marshy islands, is like a giant piece of performance art. Gothic palaces lining the Grand Canal, Palladio’s churches of Il Redentore and San Giorgio Maggiore, the Byzantine Mosaics of San Marco, and centuries of Venetian paintings hanging on the walls of the Accademia: you’d need a week to explore just that, and even then you'd have only scratched the surface. Venice also has one of Italy’s best collections of 20th-century art, at the Peggy Guggenheim.

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Verona Verona

“Juliet’s Balcony” is the most famous bit of building work in the city; and the fact that its authenticity is a little questionable doesn’t deter the thousands of romantics, from all over the world, who visit it every day. San Zeno Maggiore on the other hand is a genuinely ancient masterpiece. The church is one of Italy’s most valuable intact pieces of Romanesque architecture, dating from the 12th-century.

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Padua Padua

In Padua, art pilgrims can venerate perhaps the greatest painting in Italian art (and there’s a fair bit of competition for that title). The Cappella degli Scrovegni, or Arena Chapel, was painted between 1303 and 1305 by pre-Renaissance painter Giotto di Bondone. The fresco cycle reads like an exquisite medieval cartoon strip, recounting the lives of Christ and the Virgin Mary. It is so precious that visitors have to wait in a dust decontamination chamber before entering the chapel.

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Udine Udine

Italy’s most north-easterly city is linked with the rococo painter Giambattista Tiepolo. He made his fortune in Venice and at the royal court of Spain, but he first made his name here, in the 1720s. His ethereal, precise compositions decorate the ceiling of the stern Patriarchal Palace and the baroque Oratorio della Purità. The city’s prettiest piazza, Piazza della Libertà, has strong echoes of Venice, with its Loggia del Lionello designed to look like the Doge’s Palace. There’s a good reason for that: it was Venice that called the shots in Udine for four centuries.

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Holiday Rentals in Northern Italy

Apartment / Condo in Venice with 2 bedrooms sleeps 6

This stylish apartment has been furnished by searching for the beautiful, where the decor is a delicate blend of the style of the past revisited with a taste for modernity. Located on the 3rd and 4th floor of a historic building (no lift), it has ...

Rialto sunny and elegant apartment with nice and intimate terrace - free WIFI

One bedroom, one and a half bathroom apartment, sleeps four. Check out the video at The apartment is well furnished, with a mix of contemporary and vintage furniture. Hardwood floor, high ceilings with wood beams, cera...

Sunny Venice - Your Holiday House in Venice

Sunny Venice is a pretty apartment in the heart of Venice, situated in the district of San Marco and only a few minutes walk from Saint Mark's Square and the Palazzo Grassi. The location of the apatment, in the heart of the city, is a very good s...

In The heart of Cannaregio, very bright and real luxury layout

This large family flat has 4 bedrooms and can host up to 7 adults, there is a large master bedroom. A double bedroom, a twin bedroom (that can be turned into another double) and a single bedroom. There are 2 full bathrooms, a laundry room, a fully...

Luxury newly restord flat in the heart of Rialto

The apartment has one large double bedroom with an en suite bathroom. There are other 2 bedrooms one twin and one single and a large full bathroom between them. The apartment is also equipped with a separate wardrobe room and a large laundry and i...
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