Stretching from the Dolomites to Lake Garda, the Veneto—known for its art, cuisine, and iconic cities such as Venice and Verona—is a microcosm of the best of Italy. Hotel Villa Cipriani, in the walled town of Asolo, makes an ideal base. Once the private house of poets Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett Browning, the hotel is appointed with Florentine majolica, Rubelli fabrics, and terra-cotta tiles from nearby Possagno. In Possagno itself, visit the Neoclassical temple by 18th-century sculptor Antonio Canova, which wouldn’t look out of place in Athens or Rome. Nearby, the Museo e Gipsoteca Antonio Canova showcases the artist’s work, some of it in a wing by Modernist master Carlo Scarpa, another local son. But the greatest Veneto architect was indisputably Andrea Palladio, whose string of elegant 16th-century villas includes Villa di Maser, home to a winery producing a namesake Prosecco, and Palladio’s masterpiece, Villa La Rotonda, in Vicenza. In Padua, don’t miss chef Massimiliano Alajmo’s experimental regional dishes at Le Calandre; his proiezioni al cioccolato is a journey through several kinds of chocolate, from liquid to mousse, and involves a video projection. You’ll find a more authentically Venetian meal at the new Venissa, on Mazzorbo, one of Venice’s outer islands. Chef Paola Budel serves locally sourced dishes such as crispy eel and broccoli.
Veneto Affordable Tip: Overnighting in Venice? Stay at Oltre il Giardino, a canal-side town house near the Frari basilica. Its walled garden contains magnolia and olive trees and lavender bushes; the six rooms are decorated with works from the owner’s art collection. Doubles from $195.
Veneto, Italy: World’s Best Scorecard
Hotel Villa Cipriani 298 Via Canova, Asolo; 39-0423/523-411; villaciprianiasolo.com; doubles from $415.
Le Calandre 1 Via Liguria, Sarmeola di Rubano, Padua; 39-0496/30303; calandre.com; dinner for two $508.
Museo e Gipsoteca Antonio Canova 74 Via Canova, Possagno; 39-0423/544-323; museocanova.it.
Venissa 3 Fondamenta Santa Caterina, Isola di Mazzorbo, Venice; 39-041/527-2281; venissa.it; dinner for two $156.
Villa di Maser 7 Via Cornuda, Maser; 39-0423/923-004; villadimaser.it.
Villa La Rotonda 45 Via della Rotonda, Vicenza; 39-0444/321-793; villalarotonda.it.