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Harmony and sensuality: two words that characterize the Veneto. Harmony between the works of humankind and those of Mother Nature: centuries-old towns built of stone almost seem to be part of the earth itself, and even the opulent villas of Andrea Palladio were designed to harmonize with the surrounding natural features. Few structures are jarring or out of place. The senses are delighted by the sight of stone archways, carved wooden doors, wrought iron gates, brightly colored flowers spilling over balconies, Venetian Gothic windows, frescoed arcades, cobblestoned streets, earth-toned houses, red tile roofs, enchanting piazze, fountain spray sparkling in the sunlight, luscious grapes ripening on the vines...the intoxicating aromas of coffee brewing, pastries baking, and the must fermenting at harvest time...the chime of church bells, the echo of footsteps in winding cobblestoned ways, the music of an aria floating from a window on high...all are parts of a vast mosaic that never ceases to intoxicate the senses, delight the heart, and satisfy the soul.

Come along on a visit to some of my favorite places.

THE ASOLO HILLS

This is my home area: delightful little hills with a fairytale aspect, dominated by the almost mystical presence of Monte Grappa, whose massif lies between the Brenta and Piave rivers.

THE PROSECCO WINE COUNTRY

This is a serene and enchanting area with many wonderful views and picturesque places to visit. It is, geologically speaking, a continuation of the above: parallel files of undulating hills at the foot of a long pre-alpine range.

THE BRENTA RIVER VALLEY

From Trento, the river runs east through the Valsugana until it turns south, where it is enclosed by the tall vertical cliffs of the Asiago Plateau and the Monte Grappa massif. A delightful bike path runs along the river for much of its journey. Whitewater kayaking and rock climbing are also practiced here.

THE ASIAGO PLATEAU

Bordered by the Brenta River to the east and the Astico on the west, the plateau rises to over 5,000 feet. It is a virtual cycling wonderland, criss-crossed by myriad roads offering enjoyable climbs and wonderful views of rolling green pastures (where grazing cows provide the milk for the famous cheese), deep valleys, peaks, the Dolomites and Lagorai, and the plains far below. It's also a mecca for mountain bikers and cross country skiers.

THE PIAVE RIVER VALLEY, VAL BELLUNA and FELTRE

The Piave is a sacred river where many Italians died defending their country from the Austrian invaders in WWI. (Hemingway was wounded in Fossalta del Piave). From Belluno it runs westward through the wide Val Belluna, whose upper boundary is the Dolomites, until, like the Brenta, it heads south and into a cliff-lined canyon. There are fascinating things to see all along its course. The delightful city of Feltre lies just west of the river.

THE DOLOMITES

Undisputably the world's most beautiful and magical mountains. Seventy percent are in the Belluno province of the Veneto Region.

THE MONTELLO

When seen at a distance from the plains below, the eliptical Montello hill doesn't appear particularly interesting; instead, it's a delightful little world of steep, winding, shady lanes, forests, vinyards, and undulating fields offering lovely view of the mountains. It was a battleground in WWI, with many street names and monuments commemorating those who fought here.

THE EUGANEAN HILLS (COLLI EUGANEI)

These hills southwest of Padua are of volcanic origin. Criss-crossed by roads which offer many routes and devilish little climbs, it's the playground of Paduan cyclists and a great place to train when it's too cold in the mountains. http://www.parcocollieuganei.com/  


PARTICOLARI

Particolari...details. Things that you can easily miss, even when passing on a bicycle. Sometimes we really just need to stop and look around us.


There are many other wonderful areas to ride in and sightsee: the Cansiglio plateau, the Monti Berici south of Vicenza, the Monte Pasubio/Pian delle Fugazze area with its unusually named passes, Xomo and Xon, the plateau of Tonezza-Fiorentini, the Monti Lessini north of Verona, and the melancholy Po Delta. It's also possible to ride along the barrier islands of the Venetian Lagoon, which are connected by ferry boats.

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