With Rome lying smack bang in the centre of Italy, it’s positioned perfectly for travel across the country.
And while I have ventured up north and visited Venice and Milan many times, I had never really explored the broader regions within which they sit – Veneto and Lombardy.
But now that I’ve had a taste, I only want more.
These two regions border each other and lie in the very north east of Italy. Veneto also neighbours Emilia Romagna, Trentino-Alto Adige, Friuli-Venezia Giulia and Lombardy lines up against Piedmont.
Other than Milan, some other well known cities like Brescia, Como and Monza sit in Lombardy. Oh and Mantua (Mantova in Italian) – one of north Italy’s main artistic, cultural and music hubs.
And in Veneto, while Venice may be the shiny and ever popular jewel in the Venetian crown, there is so much more to this region than gondolas and Murano glass! Cities like Verona and the lake district of Lago di Garda just to name a couple.
The point of the story is: don’t forget to explore the smaller and perhaps less known cities Italy. You just never know what’s waiting to be uncovered.
1. Devour tortellini stuffed with mortadella at Il Banco Prosciutteria located in the heart of Verona.
2. See a masterpiece of mannerist style architecture by Giulio Romano at Palazzo Te in Mantua built as a palace for Federico II Gonzaga, Marquess of Mantua. The Gonzaga family was to Mantua what the Medici family was to Florence. (Oh and book local fine art expert Lorenzo Bonoldi of Visit Mantua to guide you!)
3. Enjoy an aperitivo with refined morsels of local tastes and wine at the Crowne Plaza Verona Fiera.
4. See vintage Fiats, Vespas, typewriters and more at the Museo Nicolis in Villafranca di Verona.
5. Feed the thrill seeker in you and check out the rides at Gardaland – Italy’s largest theme park.
6. Take a walk around Peschiera del Garda and take in the lake views, ancient arches and galleries in this picturesque lakeside town.
7. Taste local fried fish particular only to Lake Garda like these little fried ones at Ardea Purpurea at Hotel Le Ali del Frassino.
8. Explore the beauty and tranquility that is Parco Giardino Sigurtà. Featuring over 60 hectares of lush green parkland, it features flowering ornamental lakes, a medicinal herb garden and is considered to be one of the most beautiful parks in the world.
9. Wake up in style to the sun rising on the breathtaking Lake Frassino natural reserve at Le Ali del Frassino, a stunning four star superior deign hotel located right by Peschiera del Garda.
10. Catch a tortellini making demonstration at the Pastificio al Re del Tortellino. Although in these parts, this delicious filled pasta goes by the name, Nodi d’Amore (love knots – how romantic!).
11. Take a boat ride around the lake. Lake Garda is the largest lake in Italy and is just alprazolam online no prescription beautiful. It features many enchanting small towns and in summer you can swim in some of its beaches and enjoy watersports.
12. Indulge in the most decadent dish of all – fried tortellini. These golden pasta parcels are deep fried to crispy perfection and are just divine!
13. Sit down to lunch at Ristorante alla Borsa in Valeggio sul Mincio and try local specialties like – surprise surprise – tortellini. My favourite were filled with pumpkin and served with a butter and sage sauce.
14. Try Capunsei in Cavriana – a local Lombardy region specialty that’s a twist on the old gnocchi classic. In addition to potato these ones are made with bread. The ones at Trattoria La Rocca were delicious!
15. Visit a family run winery like the San Leone which has been in the Rizzi family for 3 generations.
16. Hang out at a villa like Villa Mirra in Cavriana enjoy some lunch and explore the grounds.
17. See the triptych of Our Lady with the Holy Child and Saints Rocco and Sebastian in the Church of Santa Maria Nova located in the heart of Cavriana.
18. Try your hand at making the Venetian pasta Bigoli – long pasta historically made with buckwheat flour and sometimes whole wheat flour – or at least eat them!
19. View the frescoes within the Lombard-Romanesque church, Santa Maria Della Pieve.
20. Meet and mix with the locals and a great way to do so is to join a cooking class or demonstration.
21. Go and taste wine at the Bertagna winery in Cavriana’s Morainic Hills, an area historically famous for producing wines for the emperors of Rome.
22. Take a walk around Borghetto of Valleggio sul Mincio. Recently named one of the prettiest in all of Italy, it’s really not hard to see why.
23. Leave a love lock in Borghetto. If you want to affirm your love, this is one sure stunning place to do so!
24. Take a moment to look out the window of a stunning villa in Cavriana and take in the views.
25. Feel Shakespeare, but above all, love! Touch the bronze breast of the Juliet statue in Verona – legend has it that she brings luck in love.
Signing off from Trastevere,
To see more on my recent north Italy travels, follow the hashtag #VeronaGarda on social media and watch this space!
Note: My recent North Italy travels we part or a sponsored press trip as part of my selection as a Top Hosted Blogger for TBDI2014. This press tour was funded by the following partners whom I thank immensely for their support and heartwarming hospitality: TTG Italia, TBDI – Travel Blogger Destination Italy, Verona Tuttintorno, Lago di Garda Veneto, Comune di Verona, Comune di Valeggio Sul Mincio (Verona), Comune di Cavriana (Mantova) and Palazzo Te Mantova
While all my travel costs were covered, nobody tells me what to write. All views and images are my own.