The Veneto extends from the southern slopes of the Alps to the Adriatic Sea. In addition to its capital, Venice, it contains the great cities of Padua, Vicenza and Verona. The Venetian nobility built magnificent villas along the famed Brenta Canal, of which three are accessible to the public: the Villa Foscari, Villa Widmann-Foscari and the Villa Pisani. The Veneto is an important winegrowing area, and its most famous wines include Soave, Bardolino, Amarone, Prosecco, Valpolicella and Pinot Grigio. Remains from the pressed grapes are distilled to produce grappa.
Verona is a wonderful food town. During the warm months, book a terrace table for dinner at Osteria Ponte Pietra Ristorante (Via Ponte Pietra 34. Tel. 045-804-1929) for fine views of the river. Look for ravioli stuffed with cotechino sausage and creamed lentils, and grilled steak with rosemary. Otherwise, Al Bersagliere (Via Dietro Pallone 1. Tel. 045-800-4824) is a terrific old-fashioned trattoria that serves hearty local dishes such as maccheroncini del Bersagliere — macaroni with beans and sausage in a light tomato sauce — and baccalà (salt cod) in caper sauce with grilled polenta. Servers are cordial, and there’s a superb list of Northern Italian wines.