I’ve been invited for a familiarization trip by local company to experience South Tyrol.

The northern area of Italy was on my list to check out for a long time. South Tyrol (Alto Adige in Italian) aka Sudtirol in German) is in Northern Italy, close to Austrian border. It was Austrian until 1926. Majority of the population still speaks German, followed by Italian (about a quarter of population) and local dialect Ladin. This influences architecture, food, culture, highlighting diverse Italy. I was looking forward to experience mountains, valleys, charming villages and towns. South Tyrol is the Southern part of world- famous mountain group of Dolomites.

The closest airports to South Tyrol are Venice, Verona, and Innsbruck. There is also the local Bolzano airport mostly for private jets. I opted to fly to Venice and spend few days in Verona to get my base for Verona, Lake Garda, and wine area exploration before I will get to the mountains.


I arrived in the evening and my driver team, Laura and her husband Giorgio, met me for the transfer to Verona. I planned to use their services for visiting the countryside. They are a delightful couple and I enjoyed our conversation. In 1.5 hours we arrived in Verona. I stayed at luxury apartments Lords of Verona, located in the heart of the city, Piazza de Signori. The con is that it is pedestrian square but walk from parking to hotel was only few minutes.

I liked my apartment in a historic building located in ancient palazzo but with modern design with a lot of space and kitchen. The apartment had daily housekeeping. No restaurant but many places to eat once you step out. My preference for breakfast anyway was to get delicious pastries from the bakeries. Concierge gave me advise for places to eat and what to do.
I stepped out of the apartment and had a quick simple dinner at Cafe Dante right by the Dante statue on the square. I needed something quick and light to eat but still taste local specialty. I chose Risotto Amarone which is from rice produced in the region, Vialone Nano, wine Amarone from Valpolicella region and the cheese Monte Veronese. It was topped by “drunken cheese” cream. Drunken cheese is another specialty of the region, soaked in wine. It was whipped into ice cream, more like cold whipping cream.

Next morning it was raining but I braved the weather and explored this beautiful city with my guide Katia. This medieval old town was built between the Adige River. Most people know it for being the setting of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet.”  but it is much more. To me, the best is the Verona Arena which is a huge 1st-century Roman amphitheater, which currently hosts concerts and large-scale opera performances in summer. I also visited synagogue, tasted local food in restaurants, trattorias and small open sandwiches Cichettis.

Next day was raining and my trip to Valpolicella was cancelled. I visited palace Maffei, a small art museum with collection of Ernst, Warhol, Modigliani, Picasso and others.

I had two wonderful days in Verona to rest, eat and stroll.


On November 5, I checked out of apartment and met my driver/guide Miriam for full day travel exploring countryside from Verona to Venice. The sun finally was shining and I enjoyed the foliage colors.

Before we got to Vicenza’s historical center, I took photo of Rotunda, Palladian Villa. Then we went to  Vincenza, known for its rich history, architecture, and as the birthplace of the famous architect Andrea Palladio. The highlight of my visit was Palladio’s Olympic Theater. We also admired Palladio masterpieces. The theater (Teatro Olympico) is known for its remarkable architecture, with a stage set designed to resemble an ancient Roman theater. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

We continued to Asolo, a charming town and was a favorite destination of poets and writers and actress Eleonora Duse. The town features a lovely historic center, the Asolo Castle, and the Queen Cornaro’s Castle. Asolo is often referred to as the “City of a Hundred Horizons” due to its stunning panoramic views of the surrounding hills and landscapes. We stopped for inspection and lunch is a small 5* luxury hotel in Asolo Villa Cipriani, very popular with Americans, walk to the town. The manager loved to see travel advisor from the States!

After Asolo we decided to skip Treviso and go to Venice since it was late.

We arrived in Venice and I checked into my hotel Santa Chiara. I wanted to stay closer to the ghetto for my one day in Venice and Santa Chiara is nice hotel on Grand Canal, the last one, you can arrive by car. It was recently renovated and has wonderful staff.
You can walk and take vaporetto anywhere in Venice from there. I found a nice restaurant nearby, Trattoria Berchielli and I enjoyed mussels and octopus salad. Another wonderful day!

Next morning, I walked to Jewish Ghetto in Cannaregio. I also visited David’s store, where I usually buy Judaica Murano glass. In order to visit synagogues, you need to sign up for the tour which I did. We were able to visit only 2 synagogues since the 3rd one is under renovation.

I had lunch in a kosher restaurant Gam Gam, specialty of Venice, marinated sardines.

The rest of the day was spent along wandering canals and piazzas, sampling deserts and gelato.

That concluded my pre-fam trip few days in Verona, Veneto and Venice.

Special thanks to Laura and Georgio, Miriam, Katia and wonderful staff and management at Lords of Verona and Santa Chiara hotels.

See my part 2 for South Tyrol.

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