This Italian city offers the magic of Venice… without the crowds

This lesser-known Italian city offers the magic of Venice without the crowds (and it’s cheaper too)

  • Treviso lies just a 30-minute train ride away from holiday hotspot Venice 
  • Hotel rooms there are nearly £40 cheaper than they are in Venice, on average   
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If you love the idea of visiting Venice, but can’t stand crowds, then this could be just the holiday destination for you. 

The historic Italian city of Treviso is a relatively crowd-free alternative to the floating city, which welcomes a whopping 52,000 visitors a day on average – and up to 110,000 travellers a day in the summer months.

Often overlooked by visitors and disregarded as the location of Venice’s second airport, Treviso lies just 30 minutes from Venice by train.   

Visitors will find that it offers rich history, medieval city walls and a maze of scenic canals, not to mention cheaper hotels. The average hotel room is £73 ($89) a night in Treviso, versus £111 ($135) a night in Venice, according to travel finance site Budget Your Trip. Here, MailOnline Travel reveals five things to do when you get to Treviso…

Take a look at Treviso’s canals  

For tourists wishing to avoid the crowds of Venice, Treviso is a great alternative and sits just a 30-minute train ride away (above is a canal in Treviso)

Above is the rio di San Zan Degola canal in the city of Venice, a tourist hotspot that welcomes 52,000 visitors a day on average 

While Venice may offer grander waterways, Treviso has some charming canals of its own, as the Sile and Botteniga rivers meet the town’s historic walls and weave through the city.

‘The Canale dei Buranelli, sweeping through the centre, is the prettiest [canal],’ Lonely Planet reveals. 

These canals are what has earned Treviso the nickname of ‘Little Venice’. Explore the man-made canal system by yourself or join a guided tour around the centre of Treviso.  

Visit the Fontana Delle Tette

The Fontana Delle Tette fountain in Treviso is carved into the shape of a woman with water flowing from her breasts. Above is the 1989 reproduction of the original

With a name that translates to ‘fountain of breasts’, the Fontana Delle Tette fountain is carved into the shape of a woman with water flowing from her breasts, Lonely Planet reveals. 

The fountain that stands in the city today is actually a 1989 model of the original, which was given to the city by Venice in 1559 to celebrate the end of a drought. 

The original is on display in the city’s Loggia dei Cavalieri building, while the newer version lies on Calle del Podestà, a narrow street off Piazza dei Signori. 

Historically, wine would flow from the statue instead of water – red from one breast and white from the other, Atlas Obscura notes. For three days every autumn, Treviso’s citizens would be able to drink the wine for free. Sadly, the tradition no longer continues. 

Venice too has historically had its own wine fountain – the fountain in St Mark’s Square was once filled with wine to celebrate the city’s annual carnival, wine site Decanter reveals. 

Take a break in Piazza Dei Signori

Explore Piazza dei Signori, pictured, which is ringed by historic palaces such as Palazzo dei Trecento and Palazzo del Podestà

Pictured above is St Mark’s Square, one of the most famous landmarks of Venice 

Venice is famous for its piazzas, with St Mark’s Square the most renowned of all. Meanwhile, Treviso’s most prized square is the 13th-century Piazza dei Signori, described as the ‘heart of the medieval city’ by Visit Italy. 

It’s surrounded by historic palaces such as Palazzo dei Trecento and Palazzo del Podestà, and ‘on a sunny day you’ll spot plenty of locals sitting outside on the terraces of [its] numerous restaurants, bars and cafes, enjoying an Aperol spritz or a long lunch while watching the world go by’, travel site Visit Prosecco Italy reveals. 

Treviso’s other main squares San Vito Piazza and Piazza del Duomo are also worth a visit, the site adds. 

Whichever square you choose, make sure to pull up a seat in a local cafe and order a serving of tiramisù – the world-famous dessert that originated in Treviso. 

Visit Treviso’s cathedral 

Treviso’s cathedral dates back as early as the 6th century – with its white pillars and distinctive green domes it draws attention when entering the city 

Hundreds of thousands of holidaymakers pay a visit to St Mark’s Basilica in Venice each year 

Venice’s St Mark’s Basilica draws hundreds of thousands annually – but you’re unlikely to battle crowds while exploring Treviso’s own striking cathedral, the Cathedral of St Peter the Apostle. 

The Roman Catholic edifice is topped with several green domes and is one of the most notable landmarks in the city. It dates back as early as the 6th century but has been rebuilt since then, local travel site Veneto Way reveals. 

It’s guarded by ‘six mammoth Roman columns’, Lonely Planet reveals, adding that the main attraction inside the building is the Malchiostro Annunciation painting by the Renaissance artist Titian. 

Tourists can also visit the 11th-century crypt underneath the cathedral. Later, take a stroll through the city’s other historical churches, such as Chiesa di San Nicolo and Chiesa di San Francesco. 

View the 16th-century city walls

Stroll around the historic walls that encircle Treviso, which were built to protect the city from attack

The octagon-shaped island to the right is part of the defensive system of the Venice Lagoon 

One of Treviso’s most striking attractions is its city walls, which were designed in the 1500s to defend the city against ‘medieval assault techniques such as catapults and rams’, Veneto Way notes. 

It adds that ‘in the summer, food and wine events are organized along these walls’.  Tourists can follow the walls around the city, and can even walk on the structure at certain points, Visit Prosecco Italy reveals. Tripadvisor user ‘Wembley1966’ declared: ‘They make for a very pleasant stroll in the evening.’ 

Like Treviso, Venice has a defensive system of its own. From the 14th century, forts, batteries and octagon-shaped islands with defensive walls were built by the Republic of Venice to protect the city and the Venice Lagoon, the tourist board reveals.

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