Full of cute canals and flowery embankments, it’s easy to see why charming Treviso is also referred to as “Little Venice“. Sure, there are no gondola’s navigating the waterways, but then again, there are no hoards of tourists distracting from the pleasant small-town atmosphere.
While it makes for a good day-trip from Venice, Treviso also merits a slightly longer stay. We spend a day in the city on our travels through the Veneto Region and were immediately enamoured with the countless picturesque canals, tiny alleyways and beautiful medieval buildings.
There’s plenty to see in town. Read on for my guide to the best things to do in Treviso, Italy.
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The Best Things to Do in Treviso, Italy
Piazza dei Signori
Treviso’s main square is surrounded by some grand historic buildings, including the medieval Palazzo dei Trecento, home to the city’s municipal council, the Palazzo del Podestà, which used to be the seat of the local lord.
The nearby Loggia dei Cavalieri, dating to the 13th century, was used as a public meeting place and still seems to be, judging by the groups of chatting teenagers. The allegorical Teresona statue in front of the Loggia was erected in commemoration of the Italian Unification in the 1870s.
The streets and alleyways surrounding the Piazza dei Signori are full of beautiful historical buildings, including the Chiesa di Santa Lucia Church and the impressive neo-romanic Palazzo San Vito, which both can be found to the north of the square.
Isolotto della Pescheria
Isolotto della Pescheria, Treviso’s historic fish market, sits picturesquely on a small island in the Cagnan Grande canal. The market was moved here from the Piazza dei Signori in the 19th century, when the refurbishment of the city square clashed with the non-too-regal fish smell.
To create the island, three separate islets were merged into a single one and two covered halls were constructed to hold the market stalls.
In the mornings, the Isolotto della Pescharia is a great place to mingle and watch the crowds, in the afternoon it’s a quiet spot to watch the river go by (although you might prefer somewhere with a less pervading smell of fish;)
The neoclassical entrance of Treviso’s Cathedral gives it the appearance of a Greek temple rather than an 18th century church. Inside, you’ll find paintings by Tizian and Pordenone, but arguably the most interesting part of a visit to the cathedral is descending into the gloomy crypt below the nave.
Take a Stroll Along the Small Canals
Treviso’s historical centre is criss-crossed by several pretty canals, and while strolling through the city, we were constantly amazed by yet another fantastic vista along one of these.
The biggest canal is the Cagnon Grande flowing roughly from North to South in the eastern half of the city centre, but personally I preferred the smaller canals, like the cute Canale Buranelli with its banks being shaded by weeping willows or the quaint Cagnan della Roggia in the western half of the old town.
Fontana delle Tette
Rivaling Brussels Maneken Pis as one of the most bizarre fountains I’ve laid eyes on, Treviso’s Fontana delle Tette (literally “Breast Fountain”) is one of the city’s symbols (at least judging by the number of postcards and fridge magnets it’s depicted on).
Originally constructed in the 16th century, the fountain used to sprout free wine for three days in celebration of the yearly selection of the town’s highest official. While the remains of the original statue can be found in a glass display near the Piazza dei Signori, a reconstruction from the 1980s can be found in a small courtyard off Calmaggiore Street.
Frankly, I found the tittering schoolchildren and indignant-looking elderly ladies surrounding the fountain somewhat more diverting than the statue itself.
Walk Along the Medieval City Walls
Several sections of Treviso’s former city wall are still standing, and as they are surrounded by a picturesque moat, they make for a great walk. The remains of several bastions can be found along the walls, and a few well-preserved gates are still around, like the 16th century Porta Altinia near the train station.
Shop for Local Specialties
The Veneto Region is the centre of production for many local food specialities, and Treviso is a great place to fill up your backpack or suitcase with enough staples to last you until your next trip. While exploring the centre, we stumbled across Fermi – a fantastic store selling jams, pickled, vegetables, pasta and herbs close to the fish market.
The sheer number of attractively arranged local specialities on display would be reason enough to stop by and even if there’s no extra space in your luggage, you’ll likely leave with a small snack you can enjoy while exploring Treviso’s centre (not speaking from experience here or anything;-).
Enjoy Diner with a View on one of the Canals
As you might expect, with so many picturesque spots, there are plenty of pretty outdoor cafés and restaurants with wonderful views along Treviso’s Canals.
Finding the perfect spot might depend on your personal preferences, but we liked Malvasia Café on the Canale Buranelli, where we enjoyed our food while watching small fish darting through the canal and counting the forks dropped into the water by years worth of clumsy diners.
Visit the Unique Boat Cemetery
If you’re a fan of unusual sights, like we are, you might want to consider a visit to the Cimitero delle Barche, a few kilometres east of Treviso. Sitting in the protected natural area of the Sile River Natural Park are the remains of several wooden boats that have been sunk here in the 1970s and 80s.
Left to decay, the boats have been successively reclaimed by nature and create a surprisingly beautiful scene. Furthermore, they serve as a refuge to several waterfowl, like coots and cormorants. It’s a cool spot to explore, and a visit can easily be combined with a longer tour along the Sile River.
The boat cemetery can be found near the town of Casier, which is about 4km or 2.5mi. southeast of Treviso. Without your own transport, the easiest way to reach it would be to take a bus from Treviso to Silea north of the River and then cross to the southern bank, where the boats are located.
Map of Treviso
This map of Treviso and the surrounding area includes most places mentioned above, as well as some potential places to stay at.
How to get to Treviso
Treviso sits on the train line connecting Venice (about 40mins/4€) to Udine (about 1,5hours/12€). There are frequent connections to both cities. Other cities in the Veneto region, like Padua, Vicenza or Verona can be reached with a quick change of trains in Venice.
The Best Hotels in Treviso
We stayed at Dalla Manu, a great bed and breakfast-style accommodation in a private home close to the city centre. It’s a good budget choice, plus it’s run by a very friendly and helpful lady.
If you prefer a proper hotel, the mid-range Palazzina300 has great ratings, while the upscale Camere Palazzo Bortolan has beautiful rooms in a historic Palazzo. Both of these are located in the historical city centre. Have a look at the map above for more options.
Where to Go Next