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Ok so I have to admit: I have been a shameless philistine. I had never been to Italy before, and that probably makes me a barbarian.

Italy (or at least the Veneto, as this is where we went) is great.

Venice!!! I thought people were making it up when they tell you how pretty it is. But it is true!!! We could have wandered the streets of Venice, gaping like a fish that’s left its bowl and discovered the ocean, for hours and hours. Getting lost in the twist and turns of that city is easy and fun. (As we overheard one tourist mention, “It’s much harder to give directions here than in New York”, that tourist won my personal “master of the obvious award” for the day.)

And yes it’s pretty romantic, and all the tourists in the world and the thieving gondoliers could not make it not romantic.

Padova, where we stayed as a base, has such a great food market, and there is such a buzz around that town full of bicycles, students, and cheap eateries.

Palladio, Palladio everywhere when you go to Vicenza.

I must have gained ten kilos in four days, but it was worth it.

I also tasted some wonderful cheeses, especially one I never heard of called Collina, which is a very nice cows milk cheese from the Veneto, which has a lovely tangy and nutty taste.

Follow that link for more information about an award winning Collina cheese.