I've just got back home after a short but very welcome holiday in some of the less frequented parts of northern Italy. This was my first overseas trip since 2019. I've been deterred from resuming my international travels by a variety of factors, and I've been truly sorry to cancel not only my attendance at Bouchercon but also a couple of lecture cruises on the Queen Mary. So I was glad that this particular trip went without a hitch and that has definitely given my confidence in travelling a real boost.
Our base for the holiday was a hotel in Castelfranco (the two photos above), a truly charming town in Veneto, about 25 miles or so from Venice. The old town is shaped like a square, with medieval walls and towers as well as a cathedral. Strolling around the narrow streets in the sun was very relaxing, especially after a period when I'd been particularly busy on a number of writing projects. There were some excellent restaurants - and two bookshops!
Our first excursion was to Padua, or Padova, which has a very rich history. This was followed by a trip to Mantua/Mantova, which was a bit smaller and if anything even more charming. It's the setting for Rigoletto (whose statue is in the photo below; it's supposed to be good luck to touch his hunchback...) and although I'm no opera buff, what the guide had to say about the opera made me want to see it. Vicenza, not too far away, was equally appealing, with plenty of good museums and the remarkable Olympic Theatre (photos above). Because Venice is so lovely and so close by, I've never thought of visiting these places in the past, but I'm glad I've repaired the omission.
The Parco Giardino Sigurta is gorgeous, even at this time of year, complete with maze, grotto, and a pool for innumerable turtles. Finally, a trip to Bassano, with grappa tasting and then a trip to a prosecco maker. I ate and drink more than was good for me, but although the dieting begins now, I had a lovely time. And on a slightly more serious note, I do hope that anyone who, like me, has had worries about international travel in recent times, may feel encouraged to give it a try. Covid certainly hasn't vanished, alas, but if you have the chance to start getting around again, do think about seizing it.