You’ll want to study a detailed map of the region and adjust this itinerary depending on where, specifically, you’re based. It will be different if your base is in Verona as opposed to, say, Treviso or Padova.
No matter where you’re based, you can see that there is tons to do. Really. The area is large, and there’s no way you’re going to do all of what I suggest below, not unless you want to check yourself into a convalescent home upon your return.
Arrive and get settled.
Verona: You’ll have time for just the highlights: the area around the Piazza delle Erbe, including the Palazzo della Ragione, Piazza dei Signori, the Loggia del Consiglio, the Scaliger Tombs, the church of Sant’Anastasia, and the Cathedral. Then, the world-famous Arena, where opera is held in summer months. Finally, and most important, the wonderful church of San Zeno Maggiore, one of our absolute favorite churches in all of Europe. Finishing up with a relaxing walk along the Adige, one of our favorite pastimes in Verona.
Vicenza: A most dignified city, famous for its villas and public buildings designed by Palladio, Jefferson’s inspiration for Monticello. Unmissable: the “Basilica”, a Palladio structure dominating the Piazza dei Signori. Also, the Teatro Olimpico, one of Palladio’s most famous buildings. Be sure to stop into Vicenza’s tourist office for a current list of opening hours at the various Palladian villas in a 30-mile radius of Vicenza; ask about organized bus tours you might sign up for later in your stay. Also on this day: be sure to visit Villa La Rotonda, on the immediate outskirts of Vicenza (if you’re carless, it’s a short cab ride). This is Palladio’s most famous building. It’s just a short, lovely, classic walk from there to the Villa Valmarana ai Nani, not by Palladio, but a gorgeous “Villa Veneta” containing some incredible frescoes by Tiepolo.
Lake Garda – make the circuit of the lake (but never on a weekend). Try to get out of your car in a place like Desenzano, from which boats and hydrofoils will take you all up and down the lake, perhaps the best way to see it.
Padova: The most important things to see are the Giotto frescoes in the Scrovegni Chapel. Also worth seeing: the University of Padua, with its famous Teatro Anatomico; the Palazzo della Ragione; the Botanical Garden; and most important, coffee at the Caffe Pedrocchi, recently restored.
Depending on where specifically you’re based, take a trip north into the foothills of the Dolomites, or even into the high mountains which can be reached within 60-90 minutes of virtually anywhere in the Veneto.
A group of charming small cities in the hills: Bassano del Grappa, Castelfranco Veneto, elegant Asolo, and finally Maser, for the spectacular Palladian Villa Barbaro – make absolutely certain it’s open on the day you choose to go there. Hours are published on the internet.
A day at the coast: medieval Grado and even older Aquilea, both wonderfully atmospheric.
A trio of delightful smaller cities in the Veneto: Montagnana, Este, and Monselice.
Get an earlyish start, so that you’re at the fantastic Museo Nicolis transport museum by its 10am opening time. Follow that up with lunch at nearby Valeggio sul Mincio, unknown to us until one of our owners took us there. Just a wonderfully charming ensemble of buildings and the fabulous Sigurta’ Garden along the Mincio River. In the afternoon, if you have the energy, explore the Valpolicella wine-producing area just east of Verona.
A day near the Slovenian border visiting another wine-producing area: the Collio in Friuli. Interesting trio of small cities: Gorizia, Cormons, and Cividale. You won’t see North Americans here! The food in this part of the world is fantastic. One of our favorite restaurants: La Subida.
Daytrip to Venice. How could you not?
Last day regretting you haven’t done even half the above.