Monday, 25 June 2012 9:27 AM
If you're considering a canal boat break in Venice, you should make sure to visit the charming town of Treviso, as it offers top attractions, plenty of places to eat and drink, and a tranquil atmosphere that is hard to beat.
Given its proximity to the much more famous Venice, it can often be overlooked, but don't let that stop you from making a day trip to this fantastic settlement in the north-east of Italy.
Museums and culture
If you are hoping to see the sights while planning your day out in Treviso, then the town's main museum, Museo di Santa Caterina, is a good place to start. The building was formerly a church, but has been rebuilt to include the Civic Museum, an art gallery and a collection of archaeological discoveries.
Decorated with beautiful frescoes, including Tommaso Da Modena's renowned St Ursula mural paintings, the museum boasts a large showcase of fascinating exhibits. A modern gallery displays art from the 19th and 20th centuries, while a historic collection is represented upstairs, including Lorenzo Lotto's Portrait of A Dominican and other works by Francesco Hayez, Sebastiano Ricci, Francesco Guardi and Rosalba Carriera.
Tommaso Da Modena's influence seems to be everywhere, as his frescoes also line the Chiesa di San Francesco - an impressive church that has a ship's keel roof. This tall brick structure has some faded medieval frescoes, but the main centrepiece is Da Modena's depiction of an enthroned Madonna with saints in attendance.
The artist's presence is felt again at Chiesa di San Nicolo, an Italian Gothic-style church on the opposite side of the town to Chiesa di San Francesco, where he has provided a representation of St Jerome inside the church.
Next to the church is a separate entrance where Tommaso Da Modena has painted a frieze of cleric portraits, a stunning series of works that shows the men of the cloth studying, illuminating manuscripts and in contemplation.
Those looking to explore the magnificent architecture in the region need not look far, as Treviso is surrounded by a number of spectacular villas from the Serenissima period. Worth visiting are Villa Fabrizi Franchetti, which is a classic Venetian-style upper-class mansion surrounded by a stunning park, and Villa Trevisanato - a beautiful building set against the backdrop of a small wood.
Once you have taken in the sights, you may want to try something a little more active and with unspoiled natural scenery and stunning landscapes, Treviso is the perfect place for hang-gliding and paragliding. Don't worry if you are not an expert, there are plenty of experienced flying instructors at specialist centres in the area.
Similarly, there are many opportunities to go climbing, horse riding, mountain biking or walking throughout Treviso and the surrounding areas, allowing you to take in the views and keep active at the same time.
Worked up an appetite? Treviso, like many places in Italy, has a fantastic range of restaurants offering both national favourites and international menus. If you are looking for a quick snack, there are lots of eateries that provide cheap self-service lunches, where there is a choice of pastas, salads and meat dishes.
However, for those hoping to eat somewhere more upmarket, Da Gigetto is a favourite of both tourists and locals alike. This high-end establishment boasts comfortable rooms, with traditional furnishings and a quiet ambience to ensure you feel right at home as soon you enter the door.
The menu is made up of exquisitely prepared dishes sourced from the local area, including game, snails, chicory mushrooms and fresh asparagus. For wine lovers, there is also an extensive cellar, offering more than 1,600 labels from around the world - more than enough to provide ample accompaniment to your evening meal.
Following a slap-up dinner, you'll want to stretch your legs a bit and there is an excellent walking spot alongside the city ramparts, with benches along the way should you need a rest. This is particularly good for children as there is a canal-moat with ducks, chickens and a goat to spot along the way.
Treviso is so enchanting you will find it difficult to tear yourself away and with so many things to see and do while you're there, you will have no reason to do so.