A fresco perspective in Treviso, Italy
Treviso is cursed by a reputation of being somewhere to pass through. Its tiny airport is used by European budget airlines as a cheaper alternative to Venice’s, and many people landing there head straight towards a Venice-bound bus. Others take advantage of Treviso’s cheaper hotels, then commute into Venice by train.
Such an approach does Treviso a disservice. It doesn’t need to shout about its charms, because it’s a highly prosperous city, but the walled old-town area is a pleasure to walk around. Geese and ducks strut alongside rivers and canals, old wooden waterwheels turn near cutesy bridges, handsome porticos line streets, and if you peek through doorways, you will often see staggering fresco artwork.
Treviso also punches above its weight culturally – it attracts high-grade temporary exhibitions that feel like they should be in a much bigger city.
A comfortable bed
Maison Matilda (www.maisonmatilda.com) is Treviso’s most stylish option, with each room having its own individual look and feel – although a knowingly sensuous vintage theme runs throughout. The highlight is a wood-decked terrace courtyard area with sunloungers. Double rooms cost from €180 (Dh738).
The Carlton (www.hotelcarlton.it) is close to the train station – handy for those day-tripping into Venice – and adds a bit of pep to what could easily be a generic four-star. Lobby windows are covered in childlike paintings, artwork in the rooms seems carefully curated, each floor has a different colour scheme and many rooms come with small balconies. Doubles cost from €104 (Dh426).
On the southern side of the station, the Palazzo Brando (www.palazzobrando.it) is aimed at slightly longer stays. The apartments are homely rather than business-slanted, but come with full kitchens, separate lounge areas, washing machines and free parking. Apartments cost from €75 (Dh307) per night.
Find your feet
The Piazza dei Signori is the city’s central hub, shadowed by the hulking, brick-constructed Palazzo dei Trecento and its relatively dainty tower. From there, head to Piazza Carducci, where the Loggia dei Cavalieri is a former noble’s lodge now open to the elements on three sides. Look up – there are marvellous 14th-century frescoes at the top.
To the east, Casa dei Carraresi (www.casadeicarraresi.it) and Museo Civico di Santa Caterina are the two top cultural fixes. The former is home to big-ticket temporary exhibitions – one on El Greco runs until April – while the latter has a well-presented art and archaeology collection, plus more ahead-of-their-time 14th-century frescoes inside a deconsecrated church. Until April, the Museo Civico di Santa Caterina is also home to an extensive exhibition on the mind-bending Dutch artist M C Escher.
Once the worthy stuff is complete, it’s best to stick to simple pleasures, ambling along the canals – the Buranelli Canal is spectacularly pretty – and along the tops of the city walls. The stretch at the northern end of the city is best preserved for strolling and jogging along.
Meet the locals
In a football-obsessed country, Treviso is a rugby oasis. The Benetton Treviso club (www.benettonrugby.it) has long been the strongest in Italy, and plays in the Guinness Pro12 league and European competitions. Games, with vocal local support, are played at the Stadio Comunale di Monigo, to the north-west of the old city.
Book a table
There’s a strong seafood focus at L’Antico Morer (www.ristoranteanticomorertreviso.com), which has a lovely, leafy patio out front. The tuna coated in pistachio crust on a bed of aubergine for €20 (Dh82) is seriously good – but this is somewhere you happily settle in for all four courses.
For something cheap, popular with the locals and surprisingly high-quality, Pizzeria da Roberto throws in plenty of unusual pizza toppings, including horse meat, goose, radicchio (the regionally grown, bitter-tasting red lettuce) and a who’s who of cheeses. The €8 (Dh33) calzones are gigantic.
The main shopping street is Calmaggiore, which runs from the Piazza dei Signori to the cathedral, and features clusters of classy fashion and jewellery shops.
But the big fashion name in these parts is Benetton, which runs its global empire from Treviso, and has a three-storey, free-standing flagship store in Piazza Indipendenza.
What to avoid
Treviso is supposedly the birthplace of the tiramisu, although restaurants bigging that dish up tend to be disappointing. That said, La Beccherie on Piazza Ancilotto, which has the most plausible claim on inventing it, has reopened after briefly closing in 2014.
The San Nicoló church – a tall, hulking, red-brick affair – is architecturally pleasing. The chapter house of the Seminario next to it is home to an extraordinary 14th-century fresco series by Tommaso da Modena. It depicts 40 monks and cardinals sat at their desks, all slightly different and imbued with personality. One wears spectacles – and it’s thought to be the first time they were depicted in art. The lifelike renditions belong to the Renaissance, even though they were painted before the Renaissance kicked in.
Flights with Etihad (www.etihad.com) and Emirates (www.emirates.com) from Abu Dhabi and Dubai to Venice cost from Dh2,435 return. ATVO (www.atvo.it) runs direct buses from the airport to Treviso’s bus station for €9 (Dh37), which is a 35-minute journey.
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Updated: February 11, 2016 04:00 AM