The Province of Treviso is named after its largest city and is located in the Veneto region. It is surrounded by Belluno in the north, Vicenza to the west and Padua in southwest. Venice lies about 18 miles south of the city of Treviso. The nickname of the province is La Marca Trevigiana or simply “Marca.” The area thrived under Roman rule and was known as Tarvisium during the days of the Empire.
The area is marked by the waters of the Piave, Sile and Livenza Rivers, where the waterway landscapes intermingle with picturesque hills and agricultural fields, dotted with elegant and stately homes.
The Regional Natural Park of Sile is a striking setting. The park follows along the length of the river, traversing a wide variety of landscapes. Close to the river’s source, the area is marshy and humid, but as it approaches Treviso, it becomes narrower, with rapids and rough water. These quickly ease to the peaceful lagoon-like landscape near the estuary. All along the route, tiny villages dot the vista, bringing a mystic, ancient charm and intrigue to visitors who routinely become enchanted by the sights and inhabitants.
The northwestern section of the province is characterized by various peaks that slowly transform into green hills, complete with vineyards and olive groves. Among them is the Montello Peak, a mountain that is a leftover of the last ice age. The oak and chestnut trees that covered Montello used to be a major source of timber for the region, especially for the shipyards and building foundations of Venice. The plateau of Cansiglio was given the name Bosco della Serenissima, Woods of the Most Serene Republic. In more recent times, it was the site of a major battle during the War to End All Wars.
The northern Marca, where the Piave borders with the Province of Belluno, is wine country, defined by long stretches of vineyards and the highly-prized wineries of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene.
The City of Treviso has been described by poets as a città cortese – courteous city. The calm and peaceful atmosphere induced 18th century Venetian aristocrats to choose the Treviso area as their ideal vacation spot. From a tourist point of view, it cannot compete with the unrivaled glamor of Venice; however, its meandering waterways and tranquil, pleasant atmosphere make it an attractive daytrip. It is also an excellent place to stay if you want to explore the area which has the benefit of being far less expensive than Venice. The city once belonged to its more famous neighbor and it shows. The colonnaded Buranelli district was built for fishermen from Burano. Nearby, nudging the elegant palazzi, the covered fish market occupies its own little island, floating like a ship and filling the morning air with seafood aromas and organized pandemonium.
Rebuilt and restored after the Second World War bombings, the town center is a rambling maze of streets lined with arcaded walkways. The center of Treviso is a little walled city, with medieval gates, narrow, cobbled streets of arcaded rose-red brick and stone that twist and turn like dried-out water courses, which is what some of them originally were. The river Sile runs to the south of the center and tiny canals carry water around the town, running past gardens, gliding beneath houses and even appearing at street corners. Gushing millstreams, some with water-wheels that once had a commercial purpose, now turn lazily, playing a purely decorative role. There is no Grand Canal or St. Mark’s Square, but the town’s defensive walls, moat and imposing gateways are still impressive sights.
One of Treviso’s other notable features is its comfortable air of prosperity. The town is home to the clothing empire Benetton, which has its flagship store behind the Palazzo dei Trecento in the town center. Unlike Venice, the city doesn’t depend on tourism. You will not find tourist shops or a plethora of tour guides. Instead, there is just a well-off Italian town going about its daily business.
The heart of Treviso lies in the Piazza dei Signori, with a street running along one side and cafés along the other. But throughout the city you will find enticing bars, cafés and restaurants for a sampling of the local cuisine and a glass of sparkling Prosecco. It is a really perfect spot for a quiet getaway or a romantic weekend.
Treviso’s toniest shopping street, Via Calmaggiore, stretches from Piazza dei Signori towards the Duomo, between lengthy rows of arches that characterize Treviso’s arcaded streets. The Duomo’s prize possession is its beautiful Titian altarpiece, but the most interesting part of the Duomo is the crypt, which contains extensive fragments of colored medieval frescoes.
The main Treviso museum is the Museo di Santa Caterina, a former church and convent which has been restructured to house the Civic Museum, the town’s art gallery and archaeological collection. Cloisters inside the entrance lead through to the church, decorated with lovely patches of fresco which have been restored to vivid color. Tomaso da Modena’s renowned St. Ursula frescoes are displayed in the center of the church. The museum exhibits include Lorenzo Lotto’s Portrait of a Dominican and works by Francesco Guardi, Rosalba Carriera and Sebastiano Ricci.
In the opposite corner of town lies the strikingly-elongated Chiesa di San Nicolò, a fine example of Italian Gothic architecture. Da Modena left his mark here too, contributing a San Gerolamo to the decorated columns inside the church, as well as frescoes in the adjacent seminary and chapterhouse of the monastery.
Several miles to the west of Treviso is the town of Vedelago. It holds the annual Marathon of Saint Anthony on the last Sunday of April. The race starts from the city and ends in Padua. On their way, the runners pass through eight different towns, each with their own charm and air of history and pride.
Agriculturally, the province is well-known for its radicchio. Some claim it is the best in the world. The curly crimson and white bundles are not only the crunchiest of salad ingredients, they are even better grilled or roasted and are often served in risotto or pasta. The subtle, slightly bitter flavor is addictive.
Treviso’s other claim to culinary fame is the local wine: Prosecco, which in recent years has been granted DOCG status, preventing the name from being used for wines made outside the protected area. Running from Treviso to Valdobbiadene, the Prosecco route is lined with vineyards and the winemakers are keen to attract visitors. So if you visit the province, a visit to a winery is an absolute must.