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The Legacy of the Serenissima

Trieste,  Udine,  Bolzano,   Trento,   The Dolomites,   Lake Garda

From Trieste             to the Dolomites, we shall drive through small and large towns and cities stepped in the art and history of Venice, at the crossroads of Eastern Mediterranean and European culture and trade for centuries.

After bidding a farewell to Venice, we will head for Trieste, with short detours to visit the picturesque coastal resort of Caorle (cylindrical bell-tower on the Romanesque cathedral), Portogruaro, and Aquileia, with its Roman and Mediaeval remains: the sturdy Romanesque Basilica, with its magnificent mosaic flooring, the crypt with the excavations of two Early Christian basilicas and a Roman villa, the Roman forum and burial grounds, and the Archaeological Museum. A few miles further on is the beautiful Grado, famed for its spa waters which exploit the therapeutic properties of the sea water. Visit the churches of S. Maria delle Grazie and S. Eufemia (paleo-Christian), and the Baptistery, and see the picturesque fishermen-houses. Passing through Duino, Sistiana and Miramare (Habsburg Castle in a magnificent grounds), we reach Trieste - the Austro-Hungarian Empire's port. The streets of the old city meander down to the foot of San Giusto hill. We will visit the Roman Theatre, the 16th century Castle and museum, the remains of a Roman basilica, the Cathedral of San Giusto made up of two churches, and Trieste's chief monument and the symbol of the city, the "Museo di Storia ed Arte" (Archeological exhibits and a collection of coins, drawings, including over 200 by Tiepolo alone, Trieste - Castello Miramareand paintings), the Museo Civico Revoltella, and the Aquarium (Civico Acquario Marino). Towards the port, is the 17th c. Church of S. Maria Maggiore, and the Romanesque Church of  S. Silvestro. About 14 miles from Trieste is Gorizia with its 12th c. Castle that the Venetians enlarged in 1508. The district known as "Borgo Castello" is built of a typical Venetian houses.If we have time we can see the Museum of History and Art, and the Gothic Church of S. Spirito. We are now on the way of the Julian Alps, and our first stop is Cividale del Friuli, in the Alpine foothills where the Adriatic civilization acquired many Lombard features as it moved inland. Noteworthy are the Cathedral , the Archaeological Museum  and the "Tempietto", a mediaeval church richly decorated with sculptures and frescoes. 10 miles further is

 

Udine,             the historical heart of the Friuli. This graceful city on which Venice has left its mark, is dominated by the 16th c. castle built on the older mediaeval fortress, which now houses the municipal Museum and the Ancient and Modern Art Gallery. Nearby is the Lombard Church of S. Maria di Castello, and the fine Piazza della Liberta` with its porticoes of S. Giovanni and the 15th c. Venetian Gothic town hall, known as the "Loggia del Lionello". In the Cathedral are works by Tiepolo, who also frescoed the Archbishop's Palace. Let us try to find time to visit the 18th c. Villa Manin of Passariano (17 miles)  Udinebefore heading for Pordenone  (35 miles from Udine) , with its late Gothic Cathedral and Sacile, where we will join the "Strada d'Alemagna" (the German road) at Vittorio Veneto to visit Belluno, a pre-Roman and mediaeval town that has managed to preserve the imprint of Venice on its alpine character. Let's stop in the nice Piazza del Mercato with its Renaissance buildings, the Cathedral with Juvara's bell-tower, the Palazzo dei Rettori and the Church of S. Stefano. Continuing up the Piave Valley we reach Pieve di Cadore, where we can visit Titian's birthplace, and see his Madonna and Saints in the parish church, and the Palazzo della Comunita` Cadorina with its 50 meters  high tower. The road takes us  on through the majestic

 

Dolomites             range to Cortina d'Ampezzo, the international winter sports resort  with every facility and amenity for the visitor who wishes to ski, or climb, and an ideal base for a great many excursions into the surroundings mountains: to Lake Misurina, Lake Bianco, or the summit of Mount Cristallo and the Tofane. The road from Cortina winds across the Dolomites passes, through some of the most enchanting landscapes and along the Gardena Valley, to

 

Bolzano             (Gothic Cathedral, municipal museum and the 13th c. Castel Roncolo, just outside the city, commanding a magnificent view over the Dolomites - 14-15th c. frescoes of mediaeval  courtly life). 60 kms is

 

Trento - Castello del BuonconsiglioTrento,             Dolomiti - Val di Fassaan alpine town built on the site of the ancient Roman settlement which has merged the features of Venetians, Austrian and Lombard art. In Trento’s main street ( Via Belenzani) are the 16th century city hall and Palazzo Geremia with its frescoed fašade. We must visit the 13th century Palazzo Pretorio, the Romanesque-Gotic Cathedral, the Diocesan Museum and the “Museo Nazionale Trentino” in Buonconsiglio Castle where the Middle Ages and the Renaissance have left their imprint, and where we can see the anonymous 15th century frescoes of the months.

A relax short drive through the mountains and we are at the popular health resort of Riva del Garda on the northermost tip of

 

Lake Garda.             Along the western shore, driving through tunnels and skirting the precipices that form part of the breathtaking beauty of this part of the world, are Limone, Bogliaco, Toscolano and Gardone (a major resort famous for the villa-museum of Gabriele D’Annunzio, il Vittoriale). Further on is Salo’, with its ancient houses, typical streets and late GothicGarda Lake cathedral with its richly adorned Renaissance doorway. Then come Desenzano, Sirmione, Peschiera, Verona and Vicenza. From Vicenza, the road through the Monti Berici takes us to Montagnana, whose 13th century walls are a marvel of Italian Military architecture. The Gothic renaissance cathedral is full of art treasures, including Veronese’s “Transfiguration”. 6 Kms on is Este with Museo Nazionale Atestino which has a fine collection of the Venetian exhibits from prehistoric times onwards; there is also a imposing castle, villas, buildings from various ages, and Tiepolo's masterpiece "St Tecla freeing the town from the plague". Monselice is quite near, with its Romanesque-Gothic cathedral, famous castle with medieval and renaissance art and furniture, and Villa Nani-Mogenigo. Padua and Rovigo are not far away, and 21 kms after Rovigo is Adria, the ancient Graeco-Roman city which gave its name to the Adriatic Sea; the Museo Archeologico contains many fascinating exhibits. Driving along the Bianco Canal, through the poetic and relaxing Po Delta, we reach the ancient hamlets of Loreo, Mesola and Donzella Island standing on the plain lands formed by the silt carried to the sea across the centuries by the River Po and its branches. This enchanting area can only be compared with Camargue in the South of France or the mouth of the Danube for beauty. North of Loreo is Chioggia, a fishing town and coastal resort; its bridges, canals, narrow streets and buildings make it a Venice in miniature.   

 

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