Day 3 on our Veneto trip and the Lake Garda visit left us wanting for more. Being well rested after our early night, another long day exploring lied ahead of us. We planned our day heading eastbound to Venice as our last destination. Along the way, we had also planned to visit the cities of Vicenza and Padova, and the small towns of Soave and Cittadella. The weather delivered as the weatherman predicted, another scorcher of a day that promised a high of 37 degrees. Perfect for a road trip. We left earlier than the day before to allow us to stay in places for longer.
The Fiat Panda ate the Italian road nicely and we arrived at our first town.
We arrived at a walled town and a view of a commanding castle fortress on top of the hill. We were intrigued by the town’s structure and went for a walk within its walls. There was some sort of cycle race being prepared at the time so tables were laid outside and buntings line the streets. We couldn’t really appreciate the town fully with all the festivities going on however, it was still an exciting stroll through the streets of Soave. The main attraction was no doubt, the Castle of Soave. We drove up the winding roads gradually getting a vantage point of the country side’s vineyards that stretch miles on end. We had to stop halfway to appreciate the view. We got to the castle entrance and to our luck, it was closed. There was no one there at all. We realised that it was a Sunday and hardly anywhere was open. We loitered outside the castle and took in more of the views as it really was beautiful.
A half-hour drive east is the city of Vicenza. We were ready for lunch and we did our research into what the regions best eats were. Vicenza is renowned for its Baccala Bigoli and a cheap spot was Bigoi Vicenza. Bigoli is like spaghetti but a whole lot thicker and baccala is a type of flaky salted cod. There were no tables so we ate our tubs of pasta on a shaded bench by the Piazza dei Signori, people watching outside. One of my regrets this trip is that we never got to explore Vicenza more. We were there on the hottest part of the day and we were just overwhelmed with the dry heat. We did manage to see landmarks such as the Palazzo Thiene Bonin Longare, Museo Diocesano, and the Porta Castello Tower. The heat became unbearable so we decided to get in the car, with the outside temperature clocked at 36 degrees C, so we put the air conditioning on full blast and off to the next place we go.
Another half hour drive in the countryside took us to the medieval walled city of Cittadella. The old military fortress is surrounded by embankments and had 4 gates, to which we parked by the main one. With the sun still gloriously shining, it was time for a treat of gelato and a sit down on the main square to cool off. The place was tranquil and hardly anything was open, perhaps due to being a Sunday. It was quite lovely to have Cittadella for only a few people which made the experience a little more like how it was when still being used as Padova’s military outpost. You can walk on top of the rustic beige walls for a fee but we didn’t bother as it was closing soon. We took time in looking through the Duomo, the centerpiece within the walls. It was a cozy place and it didn’t take long for us to see every little alleyway. Just over an hour was enough in Cittadella, 3 out of 5 done.
On to the fourth leg of our day trip to the eastern edge of northern Italy and an hour south of Cittadella, is Padova. The sun was starting to set and the temperatures heading into comfortable levels, therefore the people started to come out to enjoy the city. We parked around Prato della Valle, the main public square (not really a square!) with statues of Padova’s historic residents. We walked through the park on the square, with locals and tourists sharing the beautiful views of the city. Padova is enormous compared to the other towns we’ve been previously that day, a lot more metropolitan with modern shops and a lot more establishments. The sun was soon disappearing and we wanted to catch the sunset at Venice, so another regret during the trip was not seeing a lot more of Padova but it was time for us to drive to Venice.
The final stop of the day and perhaps the most famous, Venice. It was my second time visiting and it’s still as beautiful as the first. We didn’t quite catch the sunset but we arrived with a little bit of sun peeking through the horizon. We were starving by the time we arrived in Venice, so we went to a wine bar that offered cicchetti, Venice’s answer to the Spanish Tapas. It consists of vegetables, fried food, and seafood sandwiches, often considered as bar foods that accompany a glass of local wine. This was a cheap and hearty way to eat and who wouldn’t like a glass of local wine? Venice is timeless. There is no place in the world quite like it. We took a gondola ride which set us back 100 Euros for the night service. Sure it’s costly, but you have to get on a gondola while in Venice. Night services are much better to avoid the crowd. Trying to make make the most out of our visit to Venice, we walked towards Saint Mark’s Square (after being lost a couple of times). By the time we exhausted our legs, it was 11pm. We still had a 2-hour journey back to the hotel so we headed back home.
After fighting to stay awake on the road, we finally arrived in our hotel just shy of 1am. What a long and eventful day. Who would have thought the Veneto region could be so picturesque. Tuscany gets a lot of credit for its beautiful rolling hills and towns, but Veneto has its own flair and it doesn’t fail to showcase that. One more day to go.