by Maria E. Bellini
Where is the Veneto region?
Towards northeastern Italy, just below Trentino-Alto Adige and Fruili-Venezia Giulia, lies Italy’s Veneto region. Westwards it borders with Lombardy, and southwards with Emilia-Romagna. It also shares a border with Austria.
Although many people associate the Veneto region with the Dolomites, only about 30% of it is actually mountainous terrain, with 14% considered hilly and the remaining 56% are composed of flatlands, and the Po basin.
Home to the sprawling Venetian Lagoon and the remarkable city of Venice, which from the 8th to 18th century was a sovereign state and maritime republic – “La Serenissima” – which translates to: the Most Serene Republic of Venice.
What Makes The Veneto Special?
So many things! Too much to list here, so here’s just a tiny selection…
The Pasubio Valley and the Road of the 52 Tunnels – Strada delle 52 Gallerie.
Plenty of opportunities for trail running and hiking all over the region, just think: Dolomites!
The Prealps, where the ‘Veneti’ (people from the Veneto region) get to spend a lot of time in all sorts of activities in the great Outdoors.
Veneto’s genteel hills – “Colli” are unexpected treasure troves of rural charm and elegant architecture offering plenty of opportunities for laid back pleasure.
The numerous towns and cities which offer culture, history, and wonderful architecture, which makes it a real delight to also spend some time engaging in urban trekking – such as Verona, Treviso, Belluno, Padua, Vicenza and of course Venice. Plus the smaller towns such as Vittorio Veneto, Castelfranco Veneto, Chioggia, Soave and Cittadella.
In the province of Vicenza, you can find The ‘Buso della Rana’ – one of Italy’s longest caves. At over 35km in length, it’s quite remarkable, yet only possible to visit with expert speleologist guides.
Cansiglio forest – at 1000 meters above sea level, this is one of Italy’s largest forests, and famed for having provided timber for the Venetian Maritime Republic between the 15th and 17th Century.
The Geography of the Veneto Region
The River Po
More than half of the Veneto is occupied by the Po plain – La Pianura Padana. The River Po enters Veneto near Malera, a small town in the province of Rovigo, the source originates some four hundred kilometers westwards, in the Cottian Alps (Alpi Cozie) below the slopes of Piedmont’s Monviso.
Flowing eastwards, it marks the boundary between Emilia-Romagna (south of the river) and Lombardy followed by Veneto (both north of the river) finally emptying itself in the Adriatic Sea, south of Venice, in the Delta del Po.
Lakes in Veneto
The eastern shores of Lake Garda are located in the Veneto region, by the slopes of Monte Baldo and the Monti Lessini.
The highly spectacular Lake Misurina is located high up at 1,754 m above sea level in the Cadore area. Also in the Dolomites is Lake Alleghe, which was the result of a dramatic landslide in 1771, that claimed 49 lives and destroyed several villages when part of Monte Piz gave way.
Vineyards and farms, Castles, mild temperatures, relaxing walks and a gentle approach to the outdoors…
Two of our favourite areas are:
The Berici Hills – Colli Berici
- Just south of Vicenza, and you’re in the Colli Berici. Location to one of Italy’s best loved trail races – Ultrabericus, this area is also home to Architect Antonio Palladio’s – “Palladian Villa’s”.
The Euganean Hills – Colli Euganei
- Located south of Padua, the Regional Park – Parco Regionale dei Colli Euganei was established in 1989. Also location to Italy’s T.C.E. trail race, the Traversata dei Colli Euganei
Mountains of the Veneto
If we think of mountains in Veneto, the Dolomites immediately spring to mind, however the Venetian Prealps (and on a small scale the Carnic Alps) also make up this region’s mountainous areas.
- Composed of the Dolomites and marginally the Carnic Alps (although these are mainly to be found in the neighboring region Fruili Venezia Giulia).
- The majority of Veneto’s mountains are made up of the Prealps.
You may be interested to read our article – The Partition of The Alps
The Venetian Prealps – Prealpe Veneti
With heights that range between 700 and 2200 meters the Prealps are a huge part of Veneto’s ‘mountain culture’. The Prealps stretch south east of the Alps, and cover not only the Veneto region, but also parts of neighboring regions: Trentino Alto Adige and Fruili Venezia Giulia. Mostly Karst formations, the Pralps are often characterized by the abundance of caves and grottos and caving and potholing is a popular pastime.
Prealpi vicentine – Vicenza Prealps
- Lessini Mountains
Piccole Dolomiti – Little Dolomites
- Massiccio del Pasubio – The Pasubio Massif
- Catena del Sengio Alto
- Gruppo della Carega
- Catena delle Tre Croci
Gruppo degli Altipiani – Plateaux
- Altopiano di Folgaria – Folgaria Plateau
- Altopiano di Lavarone – Lavarone Plateau
- Altopiano di Asiago – Asiago Plateau
Prealpi Bellunesi – Belluno Prealps
- Massiccio del Grappa – The Grappa Massif
- Gruppo Col Nudo-Cavallo
- Gruppo del Visentin
The Carnic Alps – Alpi Carniche – are divided between Austria and northeastern Italy. Only a small part are in the Veneto region with the majority on Italian soil being in Fruili Veneiza Giulia.
The Dolomites in Veneto
A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2009, the Dolomites are like something out of this world! This Spectacular, vast mountain range is apart of the Alps and extends over three regions: Veneto, Trentino-Alto Adige and Fruili Venezia Giulia.
The Dolomites are not to be considered as a continuous mountain chain, but as nine seperate mountain systems, each with thier own characteristics.
From a Geological point, the Dolomites are a combination of two different kinds of rocks, volcanic and pale-coloured dolomite, also known as “dolostone” or “dolomite rock”.
Dolomites in Veneto
- Antelao Mountain Group
- Civetta Mountain Group
- Cristallo Mountain Group
- Feltre Mountain Group Italy
- Marmolada Mountain Group
- Monte Pelmo – Corda da Lago Mountain Group
- Schiava Mountain Group
- Tofane Mountain Group
You may be interested to read Italy on Trail’s introductory guide to the Dolomites
The Marmolada mountain range boasts the highest point in the region (3342 m), the Tofane, Cime di Lavaredo and the Pale di San Martino are amongst the most well known mountain groups in the Veneto.
Veneto’s 3000 ‘ers
There are 86 peaks in the Dolomites over 3000 meters – the tallest mountains in the Veneto region are:
- Marmolada (m 3.343) on the border with Trentino Alto Adige
- Monte Antelao (m 3.263)
- Le Tofane (m 3.243)
- Monte Cristallo (m 3.221)
- Monte Civetta (m 3.218)
- Pale di San Martino (m 2.998)
- Passo di Pordoi – connects to Trentino Alto Adige
- Passo del Falzàrego – connects to Trentino Alto Adige
- Passo di Monte Croce di Comèlico – connects to Austria
- Passo di Màuria – connects to Friuli Venezia Giulia
Glaciers – Ghiacciaio (it)
- The Marmolada Glacier (m 3.343) on the border with Trentino Alto Adige
The Parks – Nature and Wildlife in Veneto
With such an abundance of protected land across the whole of the country, it’s no wonder that the 25 designated National Parks offer some of the most outstanding natural beauty to be seen and experienced in Italy. The Veneto region offers us one of the most spectacular parks in the whole country:
Veneto – National Park
- Dolomiti Bellunesi National Park www.dolomitipark.it
- Dolomiti D’Ampezzo
- Colli Euganei
- Delta Del Po
- Fiume Sile
Read our introductory guide to Italy’s 25 National Parks
The Great War
Veneto’s mountainous areas were the setting for many battles between Italy and it’s allies and the Austro-Hungarian empire, during the Great War, and throughout the region there are numerous forts, war memorials, museums, and monuments, not to mention military roads, bunkers, tunnels, and trenches.
The areas greatly touched by the conflict are the Asiago Plateau, Mount Pasubio, Mount Grappa, Tonezza del Cimone, the Brenta Valley, Feltrino – Montello, the Medio Piave and Cadore, and the eastern Dolomites – the Lower Piave and the Venetian lagoon.
As part of the centenary in 2014 the Vento region launched a memorial project that gathers information regarding what to see and where to see it.
Taste and Enjoy…
- Soave, Recioto, Amarone, Valpolicella, Torcolato and the popular Prosecco, are just some of the Veneto’s excellent wines
- Radicchio rosso – a crisp, red type of lettuce, often grilled
- Cheeses, to name a few: Asiago, Montasio and Taleggio
- Baccalà alla Vicentina – Dried salt cod made in the Vicenza style
- Pandoro, the light and fluffy tall Christmas ‘cake’ originates in Verona
Principal Cities of the Veneto region
- Verona – Don’t miss the Arena, Romeo & Juliet fever with Juliet’s Balcony, the Adige river that that flows through town, Piazza delle Erbe, Castelvecchio fortress and Piazza dei Signori.
- Treviso – Famous for the canals, the fish market at Isola della Pescheria, the city walls, and the historical centre
- Belluno – Don’t miss the Palazzo dei Rettori, the Torre Civico, the central Piazza Martiri.
- Padua – Don’t miss the Capella dei Scrovegni, Saint Anthony’s Basilica
- Vicenza – Don’t miss the Palladian Villas and the gem of Vicenza’s centre.
- Venice – Famous for just about everything…
- Rovigo – Piazza Roma and Donà Tower and the nearby Delta del Po Park
When To Go
All year round, depending on what you want to do. Winter is great for snow and winter sports, there are also several Winter Trail Races (see below) to tempt you into an energetic run on the snow. If you want to get into the Dolomites for some snow-free hiking, walking or trail running, the best time to visit is in the end of June (although there still can be snow) to mid September.
Bear in mind that the trails can however get quite crowded during the last week of July and first half of August.
So Why go to Veneto for Trail Running, Walking and Hiking?
Veneto is one of the Italian regions that can claim to have played a part in the making of ‘modern day’ – classic – Italian Trail Running.
Whilst the steeper hills and significant vert meant that the Aosta Valley and Lombardy owned a running culture that was more orientated towards Mountain Running and Skyrunning, in Veneto, specially in the Prealps where trails were kinder, trail running activities, together with a culture of “Trail Autogestiti” (which can be described as non competitive group trail runs) formed much of the Italian spirit of trail running, one based on friendship, respect for the trails, and a love of the Outdoors.
Being outside is taken seriously in Veneto, and walking, nordic walking, hiking, climbing, skiing and snowboarding are popular activities amongst a huge proportion of the population. This is a region that’s geared towards many outdoor pursuits.
What’s Popular – Long Distance Paths & Hiking Routes in Veneto
The Road of the 52 Tunnels was built for military purposes, and served as a means of way during World War 1. It only took a year to build, and is located on the Pasubio Massif in the Dolomites. The length of the path is 6km and in just under 3km are the 52 tunnels.
The Carnic High Route a long distance path runs along the border of Italy and Austria. At 155 km long, it can be broken up into eight stages.
The Carnic Pievi Trail – This 280 km long distance hiking trail crosses both the regions of Veneto and Fruili Venezia Giulia. It can be divided into 21 stages
What’s Popular – Dolomites – The Alta Vie
There are 8 High routes which cross the Dolomites. Each of various levels of difficulty. Numbers 1 to 5 all start in the neighboring region of Trentino-Alto Adige.
- Alta Via delle Dolomiti n. 1 – 125 km starts in Lago di Braies in Val Pusteria, Bolzano and ends in Belluno. Alta Via 1 Description
- Alta Via delle Dolomiti n. 2 – 180 km, starts in Bressanone, Bolzano and ends in Feltre, Belluno. Alta Via 2 Description
- Alta Via delle Dolomiti n. 3 – 100 Km, starts in Villabassa-Niederdorf in Pusterìa, Bolzano and ends in Longarone, Belluno.
- Alta Via delle Dolomiti n. 4 – 85 Km starts in San Candido in Pusterìa, Bolzano and ends in Pieve di Cadore, Belluno.
- Alta Via delle Dolomiti n. 5 – 90 Km starts in Sesto in Pusterìa, Bolzano and ends in Pieve di Cadore, Belluno
- Alta Via delle Dolomiti n. 6 – 180 km starts in Sappada and ends in Vittorio Veneto
- Alta Via delle Dolomiti n. 7 – 36 Km starts at the Rifugio Dolomieu al Dolada, Belluno and eds in Tambre, Belluno
- Alta Via delle Dolomiti n. 8 – 63 km starts in Feltre, Belluno and ends in Bassano del Grappa, Vicenza. Alta Via 8 Description
Books and Mountain Refuges
Books Alta Vie 1 & 2 Dolomites
Trekking in the Dolomites – Alta Via 1 and Alta Via 2 by Gillian Price – Cicerone Press
Book description: The 120km AV1 is described over 11 day stages and is ideal for beginners to Alpine long-distance walking, whereas the AV2 covers 160km in 13 days and is more strenuous and technical. The more demanding AV3-6 routes are described in outline.
What Trail Race Events can I enter in the Veneto region?
We’ve listed a selection of the Trail Races in the Veneto.
WINTER GHEL TRAIL – January
6 ORE PASTRENGO TRAIL – February
AIM ENERGY WILD TRAIL – February
CORTINA SNOW TRAIL – February
MISURINA WINTER RUN – March
SOLDAMARE TRAIL – March
ULTRABERICUS TRAIL – March
DOLOMITI BEER TRAIL – March
VENICE NIGHT TRAIL – April
DUEROCCHE TRAIL – April
SCHIO ULTRA JUNGLE – April
100 E LODE – May
TRAIL DELL’ORSA ULTRA – May
DURONA TRAIL – June
DOLOMITI EXTREME TRAIL – June
TRANSCIVETTA – July
TRANS D’HAVET ULTRA – July
CAMIGNADA POI SIE’ REFUGE – August
TRAIL DOLOMITICA – August
STRAFEXPEDITION TRAIL – September
MISURINA SKY MARATHON – September
DELICIOUS TRAIL DOLOMITI – September
PROSECCO TRAIL – October
- Venice – Marco Polo
- Treviso – A. Canova
- Verona – Catullo
Maria Elisabetta Bellini is Italyontrail.com’s founder, born in the U.K, she came to running whilst living in Italy, where she still lives and trains. Never ceasing to marvel at what’s at the summit of a hill, or around the bend along the trail, she loves using trail running as a means to explore nature, contemplation and Italy.