I hope you've enjoyed our look at three delightful cities in the north of Italy: Ravenna, Padova, and Verona. While you'll probably see Venice first, don't overlook the gems of the mainland nearby: its distinctive cuisine, its history and sumptuous art, and its people — embracing today with classic Italian flair. Guidebook author, TV & radio host, business owner, Lutheran, and NORML board member. After a lifetime of exploring Europe - and inspiring Americans to see Europe as the springboard for world exploration - Rick Steves shares his reasons why. These frescoes are considered by many to be a precursor of the Renaissance to come. Renowned in its day, it was a haven for free thinking, and attracted intellectuals from far and wide. Rick: You come to the piazza, and you know you're gonna find friends. Valeria: Yes. Travel with Rick on this video guide to Venice, Italy and find out what to do on your next trip. Ancient Romans considered Verona an ideal last stop before heading north over the Alps. Standing here, we can witness a culture suddenly lurching forward out of antiquity and into the Middle Ages. We're starting here in Padova. The tiny, admittedly romantic courtyard is a spectacle in itself, with visitors from all over the world posing on the almost believable balcony and taking snapshots of each other rubbing Juliet's bronze breast, hoping to get lucky in love. Naples, Italy: The Birthplace of Pizza The scene has changed little over the centuries, as merchants artfully display their goods. Town squares take on different personalities as the day goes on. And in springtime, there's lots of work for the man who preps the artichokes. Rick: Not too much. This is the time when, traditionally, students gather to enjoy the ritual of the aperitivo, lubricated by a spritz…or three. The basilica — standing as a sanctuary of order in the midst of the madness after the fall of Rome — is covered with lavish mosaics. Even amid a pandemic that has hit the travel industry hard, Steves … As a mark of his universal appeal and importance in the medieval Church, he was sainted within a year of his death. Rick Steves with family (Photo: Pinterest) Because of his unsuccessful marriage, his fans professed him as gay. Rick: Do you talk about the food as you eat it? Verona's market square is Piazza Erbe. A fountain has bubbled here for 2,000 years. For dessert: a plate of voluptuous slices of cheese. For instance, this image of Christ is beardless — the style of the ancient Romans, and nearby is the standard medieval portrayal of a bearded Jesus. Valeria: The more the aging, the smoother it gets. Getting around this part of Italy is easy. ©2021 Rick Steves' Europe, Inc. | A unique ritual is the post-graduation roast. Caring love. This is the perfect opportunity for a traveler to grab a drink, strike up a conversation, and become part of the scene. I loved the Roman ruins and marble sidewalks. The main drag leads to one of the most important pilgrimage churches in all of Europe: the Basilica of St. Anthony. Behind the high altar, pilgrims visit the relics of the saint — considered miraculously preserved: his vocal chords, tongue, and jawbone. Giotto's storytelling style is straightforward, and anyone with a knowledge of the Bible can read the chapel like a picture book. Right now, my love story is all about food, and I'm joining local friends for dinner at Enoteca Can Grande. Over the centuries, crowds of up to 25,000 spectators have cheered Roman gladiator battles, medieval executions, and modern plays — including Verona's popular summer opera festival, which takes advantage of the arena's famous acoustics. As it turns out, anchovies and polenta are a "good marriage." It’s in their DNA.”From time to time, we share a random video clip to fuel your travel dreams. In its heyday the island of Venice ruled a huge empire, and that included a good part of the Italian mainland — a region called the "Veneto." Everything sparkles with colorful Bible scenes told with a sixth-century exuberance. Giancarlo: È buono! The shorter Rick Steves Best of Italy guidebook focuses on Italy's top destinations and sights, is in full color, and is updated every other year. This well-preserved arena — the fourth largest in the Roman world — is a popular venue for events even today. Video: Watch Italy's Verona, Padova, and Ravenna, an episode of the Rick Steves' Europe TV show. However, it is inaccurate to assume him as gay as he is a proud father of two grown-up children. It's in their DNA. With much of the charm and far fewer crowds, you could call this part of Italy "sotto-estimato" — under-estimated. 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