Colli Berici & south Vicenza


Moving south of Vicenza the winemaking culture takes on a distinctive aspect. To be precise, there are two aspects, which have arisen thanks to the differing climatic conditions and soil prevalent in the district.

Each of the two possess their own individual characters, though both share a common success which has super ceded the local confines.

To the side towards Verona we meet Gambellara, a typical rural inhabitation whose outlying countryside, reaching to the slopes of the Monti Lessini, provide the perfect environment for the cultivation of the Garganega grape variety, which produces Gambellara 'Classico', as well as Spumante, Recioto and Vin Santo. The wines of Gambellara reach their culmination in Recioto, whose cultivation and production require a highly specific fine art.

The Gambellara wine route lets you sample all the pleasures of the area - food as well as wine. The gastronomy of the Berici hills utilises age-old recipes passed down through generations of the rural community. Spending a holiday here in the province of Vicenza and visiting the Gambellara wine route means the opportunity to encounter the history of the Veneto, its monuments, folklore, cuisine and fine wine. Here you can find places combining history with nobility, such as Montecchio Maggiore, noted for its Tiepolo frescoes and the castles of Romeo and Juliet; lying nearby is Montorso, where Luigi Da Porto wrote their tragic story, which would be immortalised by the pen of Shakespeare.

Changing direction, yet always on the trail of good wine, we come to the Berici Hills, the other distinctive zone. Here the largest number of DOC wines are produced, both reds and whites, invariably using international vines though still with some local varieties. The local celebrity is perhaps the Red Tokay, which is the ideal accompaniment to the most famous local dish, baccalà alla vicentina.

The hills of Berici, often called mountains owing to their morphological characteristics, are comprised of a small gently sloping rock ridge lying immediately under the city of Vicenza. Centrally located with respect to the more famous Euganean Hills and the mountains of Lessinia, these hills arise from the plains and offer a wealth of fascination and charm, exposing a world apart, a land outside time and free from the influence of man, yet situated just a few kilometres from the artistic city of Palladio: in order to safeguard this unspoilt beauty plans are afoot to shortly introduce the regional Berici Archaeological and Natural Park.

The hill complex is topped by the peak of Monte Lungo at 445 m, thus showing its scale in comparison with the Euganean range highest peak of Monte Venda at more than 600 m. But the real difference between the two ranges lies in the form and the nature of the rocks: those of the Euganean are trachyte, whilst the Berici are calcareous, and thus especially receptive to the phenomena known as karsts, which creates suggestive grottoes and natural sculptures, both particular features of these hills.

Also interesting is the climatic difference between the hills and the surrounding plain: the southern slope is blessed with a refreshing climate thus giving life to a Mediterranean type of vegetation and the dense and luxurious greenery alternates with rock walls up to 100 m high. There are many walks to undertake through the woods and along the countryside bordering the foothills of the Berici.

Among other places worthy of a visit is without doubt the Fimon lake in the commune of Arcugnano, a small yet exquisite triumph of flora, fauna and history where the boat trip along the 'Archaeological Tour of the Fimon Valley' makes the most of your time, and the rural town of Calto di Zovencedo, to witness a charming picture of country life. Among the villas in the area the masterpiece is the justly- famous La Rotonda, one of the masterpieces of Andrea Palladio. Further places not to be missed include the remains of the medieval fortress 'La Rocca dei Vescovi' in Brendola and the church of s. Giovanni in Monte a Zovencedo, built over an ancient Templar monastery.