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Veneto in north-eastern Italy stretches from the high peaks and wooded slopes of the Dolomites through to the Adriatic coast. Towards the south of the region, the hills and mountains give way to a varied landscape featuring the vast expanse of Lake Garda, the River Po's valley and delta, the flatter coastal marshes, and the lagoon on which Venice – pearl of the Adriatic – still proudly stands. A dominant presence in the medieval world, Veneto's past history has created a rich cultural heritage for modern visitors to explore alongside thermal spas and relaxing beach holidays at many popular coastal resorts.
Every tourist to Veneto must experience romantic Venice. This UNESCO World Heritage Site consists of 118 islands and is home to a rich store of art, architecture and historical treasures. Venice can be easily explored on foot, though a gondola ride across the Grand Canal into the setting sun is a lifetime ambition for many. The splendours of this ancient maritime republic include the Doge's Palace, the Basilica di San Marco, and the iconic Rialto Bridge. History is everywhere, and Venice's churches, museums and galleries contain priceless collections of paintings, sculptures, mosaics and frescoes by world-famous artists.
Verona, close to Lake Garda in the far west of the region, is another UNESCO site with a long history. Active as a Roman trading centre as early as the 3rd century BC, the city gates, grand arena and forum still survive. Shakespeare's depiction of feuding Veronese society in 'Romeo and Juliet' mirrors the activities of Verona's medieval Scaligeri family who patronised the arts and murdered rivals with equal zeal.
Padua, a medieval city-state, lies to the east and closer to Venice. Its magnificent cultural heritage includes the beautiful Scrovegni Chapel adorned with Giotto frescoes, and the Scoletta del Santo containing Titian's 'St Anthony'.
With its golden sandy beaches and clear waters, Veneto's Adriatic coastline is perfect for seaside holidays, offering excellent opportunities to swim, bask in sun, and enjoy sailing, good scuba diving, and a broad range of watersports. Lake Garda too offers similar facilities, whilst elsewhere Veneto's wooded hills and mountains offer wonderful scenery and a variety of terrain at different altitudes to accommodate bird-watchers, wildlife enthusiasts, and hikers of all standards, as well as world-class skiing and winter sports facilities. This is also a popular area for cycling, mountain biking and fishing.
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