Tailormade tour Palladio's Veneto fly-drive touring holiday Italy

9 nights/10 days

Padua • Vicenza • Valpolicella

This 9-night fly-drive touring holiday focuses on the Veneto and the region intimately associated with the great architect, Palladio. On this tour you can explore the villas of the Brenta canal, marvel at the mediaeval treasures in the city of Padua and the birthplace of Palladio, Vicenza which is home to much of his work as well as explore the magnificent villas of the immediate area. You end the tour not far from Verona, in the wine region of Valpolicella.
Holiday price guide

Available year-round subject to the opening period of the hotels, from about £1,590 per person.

Luxury fly-drive tailormade touring holiday to Palladio's Veneto


Visit the Brenta canal • Padua • Scrovegni Chapel • Basilica of St Anthony • Visit Villa Barbarigo Pizzoni Ardemani • Visit Villa Emo at Rivella • Vicenza • La Rotonda • Villa Pisani • Verona • Valpolicella • Wine-tasting

Day by day

After arriving into Venice, the first stop on this luxury touring holiday is at the Hotel Majestic Toscanelli Padova in Padua. Though the streets of this town lack examples of Palladio’s work, it is easy, through spending time here, to see the source of his style, and the wealth of inspiration that must have surrounded him growing up. The most popular attraction in Padua is the Scrovegni Chapel, famous because of its frescoes, painted by Giotto. Its blue-painted ceiling gives the room an unusual aspect, which has intrigued visitors since it was originally painted, but it is the intricacy and skill of the frescoes that really captures imaginations. The Basilica of Saint Anthony, or Il Santo as it is known by the locals, is an architectural tour de force, blending the austerity of red brick with the lavishness of Romanesque, Byzantine, and Gothic architecture. Topped by a combination of domed and peaked roofs, the basilica, and the smaller but architecturally similar, Abbey of Santa Giustina, make a real impact on the skyline of Padua. More treasures await inside the basilica, particularly its altar. Crowned with ornate carvings and guarded by six small white statues, the altar is a centrepiece of beautifully crafted gold and stonework. Both the Scrovegni Chapel and the Basilica of Saint Anthony require advance booking of at least a few days to avoid disappointment. Outside the basilica, the Prato della Valle forms the very centre of the town. Its elliptical park has a fountain as its centre point, and is ringed by a wide oval of water, lined on either side by countless statues. This space is a very peaceful place to spend an afternoon people-watching under the arcades or in a café, reading under the shelter of the park’s trees, or popping in and out of nearby shops. The circular Orto Botanico erupts from out of the town in an explosion of greenery. These manicured gardens are perfectly organised, whilst retaining the beauty and wildness of nature. If the many art galleries and churches are not enough to stimulate you for the rest of your stay in Padua, drive southwest to Abano Terme to make the most of the abundant thermal spa facilities. Alternatively, take a boat trip from Padua to Venice along the Brenta, observing the many impressive villas that line the river banks. While in Venice, visit Palladio’s San Giorgio Maggoire, which bears his distinctive style in the traditional classical façade, or navigate the waterways separating Venice’s 117 islands on a gondola. Consider also touring one of the many museums or galleries, from the Guggenheim Museum of 20th century art, to the collection of Tintoretto’s work in the Scuola Grande di San Rocco. The Ca’Rezzanico gives its visitors the full experience of being within an 18th century palazzo, demonstrating the very height of Venetian splendour. You may also wish to head north to Treviso, the origin of Prosecco. Should you want to taste some of the local Prosecco, look out for Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco; or, for other local wines, look out for Amarone di Valpolicella and Recioto di Soave, red and white respectively. These wines are known for their bitter undertones, achieved through the drying of the grapes to facilitate the fermentation of the sugar. Returning to your hotel in the evenings after dinner, take a drink in the Bistro Bar before retiring to your room.

Vicenza sits amidst the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the ‘City of Vicenza and the Palladian Villas of the Veneto.’ Many of its most interesting buildings are situated in the Old Town, which dates from Roman times. Most of the architecture of the city dates from the 16th or 17th century, though a few buildings are in the medieval or Venetian Gothic style. Before you enter the gates of the Old Town, enter the Giardino Salvi that is just outside. These rolling gardens are interspersed with rivers, on the banks of one of which sits the Loggia Valmarana, the first of Palladio’s designs that you will see in Vicenza. The temple-like building gains most of its intrigue and grace from the permanence of its reflection in the water, which seems to cast it further back to the Roman and Greek origins of its design. Moving inside the city walls, the Porto Breganze is the first of Palladio’s works that is inside the city. Unfinished, its exterior is somewhat startling; it remains as a tall, thin building, only wide enough for three of Palladio’s signature columns. Further into Vicenza you will come across the Basilica Palladiana, the updated law courts that date back to medieval times. The façade, which appears to be entirely arches and columns, was designed by Palladio towards the end of his career, and so demonstrates his refined, developed style. The Teatro Olimpico is perhaps Palladio’s most famous work, and his most accomplished, just as it was his last. The theatre was heavily influenced by the shape of ancient Roman amphitheatres, with curved, stepped seating and mythological ornamentation. Eventually, this building was finished by Palladio’s son, and Vincenzo Scamozzi, who added the permanent stage set designed for Greek tragedy that seems to recede for miles behind the stage’s central archway. The Centro Internazionale di Studi di Architettura Andrea Palladio is housed in Palladio’s Palazzo Barbaran da Porto, and provides a school for those studying Palladio’s work, as well as a museum dedicated to him. Venturing outside the city walls on foot, to the south of the city, you will come across the Villa Valmarana ai Nani. Though not designed by Palladio, it is a feat of architectural design, and continues to attract visitors because of the hundreds of statues of dwarves that top its walls, and the Tiepolo frescoes that decorate the insides. A few hundred feet along the cobbled street you will find the Villa la Rotonda, Palladio’s most famous villa. Its imposing structure is visible above the collection of short trees around it, with four identical facades, each with their own wide staircases, columns, and statues. The cupola was inspired by that of the Pantheon in Rome. North of Vicenza you can find Palladio’s first villa, the Villa Godi Malinverni. Its rustic, very traditionally Italian style is unlike Palladio’s later Mannerist work, while the Villa Godi Piovene nearby is very typically geometric in design, with mirrored staircases leading up to its columned entrance. These are only a few of the Palladian villas in this area, and we highly recommend tracking more of them down, to see, if nothing else, how his style changed over the years. While in Vicenza, it is worth also visiting the Santa Corona Church, as it is home to the important religious works and portraits of Giovanni Bellini and Paolo Veronese.

Your final stop is amongst the Valpolicella vineyards, and offers another opportunity to become acquainted with the Amarone and Recioto wines. Nearby wineries and wine estates include the stunningly grand Villa Mosconi Bertani, which is also open for villa tours, and the Villa della Torre, a Renaissance villa. The Villa della Torre is in the Classico zone of the Allegrini estate, the leading wine producer in the Valpolicella area. To taste some of the local cheeses and cured meats, we would recommend walking the 15 minutes from your hotel to I Sapori del Portico. For olive oil tastings, drive out to Fumane and the Frantoio Guglielmi, which also regularly organises cultural events. The Oleificio Turri, however, boasts an impressive 27 varieties of olive tree, many specific to the region, and is open for tours and tastings of the oil, and sauces such as pesto. If inclination allows, spend some time in the nearby city of Verona. Touch the statue of Juliet in the courtyard of Casa di Giulietta to receive luck in love, or descend into the crypt of the Basilica of San Zeno Maggiore to see the setting for the young lovers’ wedding. Pass under the Arco della Costa, from which hangs a whale bone that will reputedly fall only when someone righteous walks underneath. Do not neglect the city’s many galleries and museums before viewing the city from up high on the belvedere of the Giardino Giusti. Within Verona there is just one example of Palladio’s work; namely the Palazzo della Torre. Not much of this building remains as it was left unfinished and suffered damage in the Second World War. Its columns and tranquil courtyard can still be seen. In Pedemonte, there is the Villa Santa Sofia, also left unfinished, though added to after Palladio’s death. The building has now been converted into a winery, producing the famous Valpolicella wine. Wine tours and tastings can be arranged in advance. The villa is surrounded by a beautiful park, adorned with trees as old as the villa itself. The nearby small town of Mantua was formerly one of the richest cities of the Middle Ages. The village of Borghetto has two picturesque waterfalls and some of its original fortifications still stand. Park Sigurtà sits just outside Borghetto, and is considered to be one of the most beautiful gardens in the world, covering 600,000 square metres on the Moraine Hills. The heart-shaped lake and 12th century castle of Castellaro Lagusello give the village its name, and its place on the list of the Most Beautiful Towns in Italy. If you have time, drive to Sirmione, on the banks of Lake Garda; firstly, to appreciate the stunning setting of the lake, but secondly to visit Scaliger Castle, a building of outstanding beauty that stands on the town’s peninsula, with ancient stone walls that are bathed in the waters of the lake.

Depending on your flight time, there may be a chance to explore the vicinity of the hotel and Verona in more depth today. Then, drive the short distance to Verona airport, return your hire-car for your flight back to London Gatwick.

Holiday price guide Prices start at £1,590 per person based on two people sharing a double or twin room.

Holiday Code ITFD06

Luxury fly-drive tailormade touring holiday to Palladio's Veneto

Holiday price guide Prices start at £1,590 per person based on two people sharing a double or twin room.

Holiday Code ITFD06

Our prices include ● British Airways flights from Gatwick to Venice and from Verona to Gatwick
● Hire of a Group B car for the duration of your holiday
● 3 nights’ bed and breakfast in a Standard double room at the Hotel Majestic Toscanelli Padova, Padua
● 3 nights’ bed and breakfast in a Classic double at the Hotel Villa Michelangelo, Vicenza
● 3 nights’ bed and breakfast in a Classic double at the Hotel Villa del Quar, near Verona
● Concierge service and Expressions Holidays regional helpful hints

Our prices do not include ● Early check-in or late check-out at any hotels (although we can arrange this on request at additional cost)
● Any other services not mentioned above, such as transfers and meals except breakfast at hotels
● Personal holiday insurance. This is essential and cover should be in place from when you book the holiday.
● Local tourist tax, usually between Euros 1 and 3 per person per night, and payable locally to the hotel

Additional information Driving times for this touring holiday
Venice Airport to Padova 50 minutes
Padova to Vicenza 40 minutes
Vicenza to Pedemonte 1 hour
Pedemonte to Verona Airport 20 minutes

Luxury fly-drive tailormade touring holiday to Palladio's Veneto

Highlights of Veneto

Veneto has a wealth of culture and interest to immerse yourself in, including: Venice carnival, an extravagant pageant making the city even more impossibly beautiful than normal; the islands of the lagoon, including Murano, famous for its glass-makers, whose workshops you can visit, and Burano, with its wonderfully colourful facades; Treviso, a scaled down Venice, great escaping the high-season crowds; Soave, a fairy-tale castle town famous for its wines; Albano, a classic 19th century thermal town; Lake Garda, flanked by lemon and olive groves, with the Dolomites reflected in its lakes, and 7,227ft Monte Baldo behind it, which you can reach by cable car; tiny village of Marostica, which stages a human chess game with ‘pieces' dressed in Renaissance costumes; Valpollicella, a lush valley strewn with family wineries; Padua and its Giotto frescoes; the Romanesque abbey of San Pietro di Foletto in Follina; numerous Palladian villas, including Bararao, Villa Emo, La Rotonda, Villa Godi and Villa Valmarana; Cima's masterpiece of an altarpiece in Conegliano cathedral; the August Palio in Feltre, with medieval games, horse racing and celebrations; Treviso's festival of dance, poetry and music in August; birdwatching on the Venice lagoon and Po delta; local cuisine, including Spaghetti alle Vongole and Prosecco from Conegliano; the fishing port of Chioggia.

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