Treviso, Italy: A Visitor’s Guide
For Mindful Travelers
A Visitor’s Guide For Mindful Travelers
Published August 9, 2020
Are you interested in an Italian getaway, but not sure which part of the country to visit? Travel enthusiasts should consider Treviso, a small city not far from Venice in the region of Veneto. Treviso’s most striking feature is its canals, and the city is sometimes dubbed “The Other Venice.” In this post, I’ll explain whether or not I agree with that label, plus showcase what I found in Treviso during my five-day stay there!
Italy holds a special place in this traveler’s heart: it was my very first European vacation destination way back in 2014. Since then, I’ve spent time in Rome and Milan. It’s also one of the few countries I’ve been to for business. On this trip, I wanted to explore Italy beyond its largest cities. Treviso ended up being the obvious choice since a friend from college currently lives there. One other friend joined us, and I’m so glad we had a little reunion in such a beautiful town!
Why is this guide intended for “mindful travelers,” you ask? Well, Treviso is great for anyone who’s already been to Italy a few times. It’s perfect for visitors who are mindful of (and wary of) overtourism in nearby Venice. If you consider yourself an “off-the-beaten-path” traveler, this quaint town will probably be right up your alley.
To skip down to any section of this travel guide, click or tap the corresponding link below.
- Is Treviso a “Mini Venice”?
- Restaurants in Treviso
- Other Attractions
- Day Trips to Venice
Is Treviso a “Mini Venice”?
Here’s my short answer: no. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing! Potential visitors should understand that Treviso is not really a small Venice without the crowds. Instead, it has its own unique flair that is worth experiencing regardless of its proximity to Venice.
Similarities Between Treviso and Venice
Both Treviso and Venice have canals. That’s the main similarity. Even then, Venice’s waterways share little in common with those in Treviso. In Venice, the canals are wide and deep. They carve the city up into little islands that are connected by hundreds of bridges. Boats and gondolas dominate these passageways, and major thoroughfares in Venice run parallel to the canals.
In contrast, most of Treviso’s canals run perpendicular to streets. They’re much shallower. As such, they don’t support gondolas or other boat traffic. Finally, Treviso’s canals look very clean and clear. Entire aquatic ecosystems seem to thrive here, from an abundance of plant life to waterfowl to majestic swans. Treviso’s canals are so full of plants, in fact, that many of them have a distinctive glassy, emerald look to them. Their bright green color is something you won’t find in Venice’s murkier waters.
Differences Between Treviso and Venice
Look at the geography of both cities to see how little they have in common. Venice is composed of over 100 different islands clustered in the middle of a lagoon. Meanwhile, Treviso is located much further inland, surrounded by countryside.
Most of Venice does not allow cars or bikes (there only pedestrian pathways). Since this major tourist destination has no vehicular roads, the city is extremely dense. Treviso, on the other hand, has regular roads that pedestrians must share with cars, bikes, and buses. Treviso feels about as spread out as your average small or mid-sized European city.
A proper vacation in Venice would probably involve running around to various cathedrals, piazzas, and other attractions. In short, you’d be checking off boxes on a list. Treviso is more of a place to try mom-and-pop restaurants, meander through side alleys, and take it easy.
Restaurants in Treviso
Are you a foodie on a budget? If so, you’ve come to the right place! There are so many cozy trattorie and osterie in Treviso offering local flavors at reasonable prices. Here are some of the places I recommend.
Osteria Alla Grotta
This was my favorite meal in Treviso, so it’s at the top of my list. I ordered a plate of spaghetti that came in an interesting, slightly spicy black sauce with moscardini (tiny octopus). I also got their tripe in a tomato sauce, which was equally flavorful!
The dining room at Osteria Alla Grotta is small, so I recommend making a reservation beforehand.
Osteria ai Filodrammatici
Filodrammatici is a cute little restaurant that has outdoor seating and an upstairs dining room. I decided to try their duck ragù gnocchi. It was wonderfully rich!
La Proseccheria ai Soffioni
Address: P.za dei Signori, 26, 31100 Treviso TV, Italy
This bar and restaurant is located on Treviso’s main square. I tried something new and ordered bigoli, pictured below. It’s now one of my favorite kinds of pastas, and I’ll be on the lookout for it whenever I’m at an authentic Italian restaurant! It’s thick, filling, and absorbs sauce and flavor really well.
Did you notice that this restaurant isn’t an osteria or a trattoria, but instead a proseccheria? That’s because prosecco is a local specialty in Treviso! If you try this place, be sure to order a glass with your meal!
Trattoria All'Oca Bianca
Oca Bianca (which means “White Goose”) is tucked away on a side alley. We split an appetizer of polenta nera (black polenta, not pictured), which I thought was a little underwhelming. However, the cheese ravioli I got for my dinner here was delicious!
Trattoria Toni Del Spin
Address: Via Inferiore, 7, 31100 Treviso TV, Italy
I loved bigoli so much that I had to order it a second time at Trattoria Toni Del Spin. This one came in a very interesting and tasty sardine-based sauce.
Vecia Hostaria dai Naneti
Don’t leave Treviso without trying a sandwich from Dai Naneti! You build your own by choosing from a selection of deli meats, cheeses, and veggies. The staff here can even help you pair meats and cheeses if you need suggestions. I really liked the creamy cheese spread I got, not to mention their amazing seasoned tomatoes and eggplant slices.
Pizzaria da Fausta
Pizzaria da Fausta serves good pizza for low prices in a casual setting. I ordered something I discovered on my previous trip to Italy: a quatro stagioni (four seasons). I like it because it’s divided into quadrants that each have their own toppings.
Address: P.za G. Ancilotto, 9, 31100 Treviso TV, Italy
One thing I learned in Treviso is that tiramisù was apparently invented here! Lots of restaurants serve it, but one in particular is famous for it: Le Beccherie. This is definitely the most upscale restaurant I saw in town, and they offer a very fancy-looking tasting menu. However, you can also go and just order a slice of their famous cake.
The menu includes suggested wine pairings, so I splurged and ordered a port to go with my tiramisù. The cake was so soft and rich without being heavy, and the sweet red wine really complemented the chocolate.
Taste Coffee & More
Typical Italian espresso drinks are available all around town, but Taste Coffee & More is a must-visit for anyone like me who needs more than a small cappuccino in the morning. They offer single origin coffees and also serve iced coffee, which is not nearly as common in Europe as it is in the US.
Address: Viale IV Novembre, 9a, 31100 Treviso TV, Italy
This was the only non-Italian meal I had during my time in Treviso! If you need a break from pasta, Hanoi Quan is an excellent option. The Vietnamese lunch I ordered there was fresh, filling, and authentic!
Treviso is a city of art, and there’s no better place to learn about it than the two largest museums in town. Both the Luigi Bailo Museum and the Civic Museums of Treviso house incredible collections of art spanning multiple centuries. In addition, there’s a good chance you’ll get to enjoy the art in peace and at your own pace. When I went, there were only a few other guests. If you want to visit both, you can purchase a combo ticket for thirteen euro (as of August 2022).
Museo Luigi Bailo (Galleria del Novecento)
Address: Borgo Camillo Benso Conte di Cavour, 24, 31100 Treviso TV, Italy
Named after a local art collector, this museum on the northwest side of town features works from the twentieth century. The main hall had some amazing marble statues on display when I went, but this might be a temporary exhibit.
Upstairs, you’ll find some incredibly realistic paintings of battle scenes and other portrayals of life in Italy. There is an eclectic mix of traditional and more modern sculptures on the upper level.
Musei Civici di Treviso (Museo di Santa Caterina)
Address: Piazzetta Botter Mario, 1, 31100 Treviso TV, Italy
If you visit both of these museums, you might notice some architectural similarities, including open-air courtyards. That’s because they were both originally monasteries!
This campus has older works than the Luigi Bailo Museum, including some ancient mosaics and frescoes that are only partially intact. The basement has exhibits on archaeological artifacts, including things like spearheads.
Beyond its museums, Treviso doesn’t have a ton of activities to do. Nonetheless, the following landmarks can serve as a guide for exploring the rest of town on foot.
Piazza dei Signori
Treviso’s historic center has multiple public squares, but Piazza dei Signori is the most prominent. It’s home to a large building that has elements reminiscent of a castle, which actually serves as city hall. There are also shops and restaurants on all sides of the plaza.
Fontana Delle Tette
Are you curious what this fountain’s name means in English? Once you see it, I think you’ll be able to figure it out! She is tucked away in a shady alcove not far from Piazza dei Signori, and you can actually drink this water if you’re thirsty.
The Sile River is Treviso’s largest waterway. It runs along the south edge of the walled city, and it’s just as pretty and green as Treviso’s smaller canals.
Day Trips to Venice
Since I had never been to Northeast Italy before, I wanted to take the opportunity to see Venice. I was concerned that the island city known for its canals would be chaotic, especially in August. That ended up being sort of true, but I’m still glad I went. However, I don’t feel like I need to go back to Venice anytime soon.
Things I Liked About Venice
First and foremost, the urban layout and architecture of Venice are breathtaking. I have never seen any other city like it in all my travels. The canals are gorgeous too, especially with all of the gondolas traversing them. In fact, we were even able to experience the gondolas without spending a fortune by taking the traghetto, a gondola ferry service that crosses the Grand Canal at various points. As of August 2022, it only costs two euro.
We also happened to stumble upon the T Fondaco dei Tedeschi by DFS, an upscale mall located here. They have a rooftop terrace that allowed us to enter for free (although it looked like it’s often closed for private events). In any case, the panoramic view of Venice from above blew me away. If you have time, you should absolutely try to find an observation deck.
Venice has some neighborhoods that aren’t overrun by tourists, such as parts of Cannaregio. But unfortunately, most of the city seemed pretty crowded. Which brings me to…
Things I Did Not Like About Venice
Signs of overtourism in Venice are blaring, and for my first hour or two there, I tuned them out. But after that, I couldn’t ignore them any longer. Venice is so crowded. It may not necessarily be shoulder to shoulder, but it’s still pretty bad. It almost feels like being in the busiest parts of Manhattan, minus the skyscrapers. The sea of tourists in Venice is one of the city’s defining features.
On top of that, the food scene here didn’t impress me. We went for Japanese food one night, and it ended up being tiny portions for high prices. The service was slow. At another restaurant, I ordered spaghetti with clams that were full of sand. I know shellfish can have a few grains of sand in them, but this was a little excessive. In addition, a lot of restaurants in Venice proudly advertise their “menù turistico.” Isn’t that kind of saying the quiet part out loud?
Lastly, Venice was so hot in August. The city is a mass of built structures that provide relatively little shade during the day. There are almost no trees anywhere, and I never felt much of a breeze. In my opinion, Venice was noticeably hotter than Treviso.
Should you just skip Venice entirely?
This is ultimately a personal decision that you are going to have to make for yourself. There’s an argument to be made that day trippers are the primary cause of overtourism in Venice. It makes sense: day trippers come in, don’t contribute as much to the city’s economy, but still use and erode all of the aging infrastructure. To help offset this, the local government plans to start taxing them in early 2023.
For what it’s worth, I feel like I mitigated my own impact and footprint by spending less time in Venice (about one day in total) and more time in Treviso (about four days). Ultimately, I do think the beauty of Venice is worth seeing. With that said, I can see why the majority of tourists stay for less than 24 hours.
Back to Treviso!
A visit to Treviso is relaxing and refreshing. It’s the perfect place to acquaint oneself with Italian life away from the big cities. I highly recommend it for mindful travelers looking for authentic experiences!
Have you been to Treviso before? Are you interested in checking it out? Leave a comment and let me know! I always love to hear from my readers!
This post was published on Aug 9, 2020