The Veneto is not Venice. It is muc,h much more, but the name can sometimes confuse people. Venice is, of course, one of the most incredible and unique places on earth, immutable beauty that has graced the ages for a thousand years. Venice is special. So is the Veneto as a whole, and it is not to be overlooked.
Firstly, the people are in many ways quite unlike other Italians. Maybe its thanks to their origin as a separate people, settling here 1500 years ago, or thanks to their outward looking trading empire, 1000 years in the making, or because they live so close to the Swiss, the Austrians and the Slovenes. Whatever the reason, the Veneti, with their inflected dialect, are bright, energetic, fun loving, gregarious, canny, optimistic and vivacious. Nothing gives them more fun than organizing, and enjoying, a good party up in the hills where many have weekend chalets.
Secondly, the many towns of the Veneto were solid, growing success stories long before Venice took control of them 600 years ago. Their names are long famous in art, in literature and in romance. For here are Verona, Padova, Sirmione, Treviso, Vicenza and Bassano.
This great region is a powerhouse of wealth and success. Some of the most famous wines, like Valpolicella, are cultivated by the shores of Lake Garda. The Stefanel and Benetton families come from Treviso - and everyone knows of them! And the sunglasses you wear? They were probably made by Luxottica, up in Belluno.
And finally, there is the scenery, so different in so short a space. The indolent slap of a wave against a boat lying in the Venetian lagoon on a warm and misty early summer's morning. The flat clang of a brass bell hanging from the neck of a young calf as it strolls in a mountain meadow, the sharp tang of grass slicing through the fresh air. The clattering cascade of a stream as it scrambles through the stones below the high walls of Bassano, world famous for its grappa.
Veneto is as much a delight as its incomparable jewel, Venice. Marvel at one, enjoy the other.
Article and Photographs | Copyright © Carl Ottersen