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Padova historic center Veneto Italy
Small canal in Venice Veneto Italy
Verona historic center Veneto Italy

Veneto History

Veneto takes its name from the population that occupied this territory in roughly 1000 BC, and came from Central Asia together with other Indo-European populations. The "Venets" spread into other areas of northern Europe, and their name was a descriptive rather than tribal one, which meant noble or "shining"  and they were a largely peaceful people. They were also adept traders, and were early sellers of amber, particularly to the Greeks and Etruscans to the south.

They were world-famous as horse breeders, and the horse and the color blue were their decorative and emblematic symbols (as with other Indo-European theologies, the horse was a symbol associated with the afterlife).


The Romans arrived in 200 BC, but theirs was not a forceful invasion, the Venets preferring to make concessions and arrangements rather than offer resistance. Under Emperor Augustus the region became part of the Roman Empire (Decima Regio Venetia et Istria) and was to enjoy a 300 year period of expansion in both trade and the arts.

A strategic position at the hub of the empire's road network enabled the cities to prosper under Roman rule, and they continued to prosper under the rule of the Venetian empire more than 1,000 years later. The Romans established their frontier posts here, and they survive today as the cities of Vicenza, Padova, Verona, and Treviso. These were located on important trade routes such as the Serenissima, which connected the flourishing port cities of Venice (Venezia) and Genoa and the Brenner Pass, which was used by commercial travelers crossing the Alps from northern Europe.


With the fall of the Roman Empire, the Goths, Huns, and Longobards plundered the region. The peoples of the cities that were sacked took refuge in the coastal lagoons and established new towns, one of which was Venice. Independent Venice became a glorious maritime republic with flourishing trade routes which rapidly increased the c's wealth and prestige. With time, the other key cities of the region began to shake themselves free of feudal oppression, and, having done so, promptly began to fight with each other.


At its zenith (between the 14th and 16th centuries), the Venetian republic was a political heavyweight, queen of the Adriatic, and an effective power player in world affairs. Venice took advantage of this state of affairs and, at the beginning of the 15th century, took dominion of the entire region.


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