Veneto is home to some of the most recognizable dishes, desserts and wines including the popular and delicious dessert tiramisu. Meaning ‘pick me up’, tiramisu was originated in Treviso. White asparagus from Bassano in Vicenza is known as the best in the world. Many of Italy’s most famous PDO-protected cheeses are produced in Veneto including Piave DOP and Asiago DOP. Other notable varieties are Schiz, Casatella Trevigiana, Montasio, Monte Veronese, and Provolone Valpadana.
Taste of Veneto
The first in Italy and among the first destinations in Europe, the region of Veneto is located in north-eastern Italy bordering Austria and is rich in art cities, Unesco world heritage sites, small historic hamlets, nature oasis and mountains, fortified citadels, and Nobel villas by the sea and the lake.
Veneto is a region of dramatic landscape differences with the stunning mountainous Dolomites to the north on the Austrian borders that rolls down to shape the green hill of the Po Valley that extends down to the picturesque Adriatic coastline and finishes with a final flourish in the city of Venice.
Veneto includes 7 Provinces: Belluno, Padova, Rovigo, Treviso, Venezia, Verona, Vicenza.
Venice, known for its vast artistic and historic treasures, Verona and Padova, the Palladian Villas and the city of Vicenza, the Dolomite National Park, the Gardaland theme park, the spa facilities at Abano Terme, the memorial sites of World War One are some of the noteworthy attractions of Veneto. Also worth visiting is the Po River Delta that is a large protected area of wetlands between the flow of Po di Goro and the Adige river inhabited by more than 300 species of birds, a popular destination for birdwatching.
Did You Know?
The name Veneto derives from the name of the Celtic tribe who lived in the area. Apart from the popular and extraordinary city on the water and its lagoon, Venice, the region of Veneto is home to other beautiful cities, historical places and landscapes:
Verona is a romantic city that’s home to Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet; the refined city of Padova hosts one of the oldest universities in the world, the University of Padova, founded in 1222; Vicenza is known for its sixteenth century buildings created by the architect Andrea Palladio; Belluno is home to stunning mountainous views and the crystal clear waters of the magnificent Lake Garda.
Also Venice is not the only place in the Veneto region that is recognized as Unesco’s World Heritage Site: the protected places in Veneto include the elegant city of Verona, known as the city of love, with the Arena, its evocative historic centre and the Juliet’s House, Vicenza and the Palladian Villas, the Botanical Garden of Padova, the oldest university botanical garden in the world (dating to the 1545), the Dolomites mountain range, where is the world’s biggest ski area and the wine-growing area of the Prosecco Hills.
Other less known places include; Cittadella that is a fascinating walled city with medieval origins just a few kilometers from Padova. Located at the foot of Monte Grappa, Bassano del Grappa is another beautiful attraction that is famous for its covered wooden bridge designed by Palladio and its historic center.
Given its diverse landscapes, the cuisine of Veneto is one of the most varied in Italy, with all sorts of dishes making the most of local ingredients. While pasta is made and eaten in Veneto, it is far less common than risotto (rice) which is made either with rice from Veneto’s own protected rice, riso Nano Vialone Veronese IGP or rice from nearby Lombardy or Piedmont.
Joining rice as the main staple in Veneto is polenta, an ancient dish made by boiling up various ground meals (mainly corn) to form a kind or porridge, or when cooled, bread. It is either served as a mash or pressed into slabs and pan-fried. The Venetian pasta is bigoli, and is a thick long paste made with buckwheat or whole wheat and usually eggs.
Venetian specialty includes cichéti (or cicchetti) and fritole. Cichéti are small snack plates of food served in traditional bars (bàcari) across the city. Fritole are little stuffed pastries that come in all shapes, sizes and flavours. They can be stuffed with everything from dried fruit to sweet ricotta and chocolate. Mozzarella in carozza (deep fried mozzarella sandwiches) is another local speciality, with the best ones said to come from the Rosticceria Gislon in the centre of Venice.
Treviso has an incredibly fertile soil and is regarded as one of the best provinces in all of northern Italy for vegetables. Radicchio Rosso di Treviso Tardivo IGP is a speciality of Treviso. The plants are grown in the dark, which forces the leaves to curl in a unique way. It is a kind of chicory noted for its mild flavour which makes it perfect in salads. It is also often served as the main ingredient in risotto.
Vicenza is the home Asiago cheese and the white asparagus from Bassano. Bassano white asparagus is amongst the most prestigious. In the Veneto, white asparagus is eaten with boiled eggs in various forms.
Verona is home to the famous Pandoro (Golden bread) cake. It is also known for its wines made from the local grapes. Rich stews served with polenta are also a feature of Veronese cooking, such as brasato all’amarone and pastissada de caval, a horsemeat stew that’s made rich with medieval spices.
Padova is where that Aperol, a bright orange liqueur, made its first appearance in 1919. The Euganean Hills (Colli Euganei) of Padova are famous for a beautiful dessert wine called Colli Euganei Fior d’Arancio, made from yellow Muscat grapes. Vast quantities of the biancoperla corn are grown here, which is used to make white polenta as opposed to the more common yellow variety.
The gallina padovana, or Paduan hen, is one of the oldest breeds of chicken known in Europe. Horsemeat is also widely eaten in the province and sfilacci di cavallo, very thin strips of dried horse meat that look almost like pieces of saffron, are a local delicacy. They are eaten alone or with pasta or risotto, and have recently become a popular pizza topping.
There are fourteen DOCG and twenty-seven DOC appellations in Veneto which cover over twenty percent of Italy’s ‘quality wine’ production. The grape that covers more than thirty percent of the vineyards is Merlot.
Veneto is home to the popular sparkling wine Prosecco, which in recent years is gaining popularity over Champagne. The best bottles come from the vineyards of Valdobbiadene in northern Treviso. Treviso also produces Amarone, Bardolino and Soave.
Vinitaly, the most important wine exhibition in Italy, has been taking place in Verona since 1967.
Several DOP and IGP products are made in Veneto, including:
Piave formaggio DOP
Asiago formaggio DOP
Valpolicella DOP EVOO
Riso Nano Vialone Veronese IGP