Our wine tour
History and tradition in a sip of wine.
The Veneto is home to wines on a par with its monuments, evoking the richness of the countryside and its culture with every taste. This tour offers a gateway into the cult locations of traditional viticulture, areas and villages in perfect harmony with their fascinating natural surroundings and which preserve priceless relics from the distant past.
Along the Bardolino road
A journey along the trail of Veneto wines means much more than simply tasting the local produce: every place has its own flavour, every flavour contains its own history. Each drop of wine, in its colour and its bouquet, holds a world of tradition, of devout study, of respect for the land, of toil and satisfaction.
Our intriguing search for these factors, fundamentals of the culture of the Veneto, departs from the meridional zone of Lake Garda, where the unique climate of mild winters and temperate summers allows the grapes to ripen in a privileged environment: this is the home of Bardolino, a centuries-famous red. We travel to the area which gives it its name and which offers many places to visit, places which contribute to the explaination of the refined taste of the ruby nectar here produced. Bardolino is also produced in the neighbouring areas of Garda, Lazise and Affi.
The old churches, convents, the ancient encircling walls built by the Scaliger rulers of which the Porta Verona and a crenellated tower remain today, the villas, palazzi and gardens of the Venetian domination: so many things to see in Bardolino, now a thriving tourist destination thanks to its high level of holiday accommodation. Highly evident is the positioning of the houses in rows perpendicular to the lake, typical of the structure of a fishing village.
We visit San Zeno, a magnificent example of Carolingian architecture of the 9th century built under authority of the French king Pepin, and, dating from the same epoch, the Romanesque San Severo and San Colombano, the latter lying in the vicinity of Cisano. As for the specifically food and wine based activities, we will first visit the Mueso del Vino to acquaint ourselves with the history and tradition, then on to the renowned restaurant Zeni for a tasting of different Bardolino vintages and preparations from diverse types of grapes.
Bardolino is noted for its local delicacies and dishes, based on fish from the lake and vegetables cultivated in the surrounding hills. October sees the Festa della Vendemmia, or harvest festival.
The Valpolicella Road
We remain in the province of Verona but move on to Valpollicella, in the district formed by the comunes of Sant’Ambrogio, San Pietro, Marano, Fumane and Negrar, where the famous Recioto and Amarone wines are produced, and where the town’s history appears stopped in the Middle Ages.
Sant’Ambrogio di Valpollicella gives its name not only to the Wine but also the red marble which adorns the elegant villas of Verona. Its vines are possibly the best in all the zone. Moving up the hill we find Garganago, home to the most esteemed vineyards in the area: particularly noteworthy the Alighieri estate, based around the villa built by the son of the poet Dante, and to this day owned by his descendants.
In the other hill district of San Giorgio pause to admire the ancient village, with its magnificent church and views encompassing Lake Garda. Our tour moves on to San Pietro in Cariana, where two sights stand out prominently: the ancient parish church of San Floriano, dating from the 12th century, and the Palladian villa of Santa Sofia. In fact numerous villas erected by the Venetian nobility lay scattered throughout the area.
The motif of Venetian villas extends also to Fumane, highlight being the villa Della Torre, attributed to either Michele Sanmichele or Giulio Romano, two of the greatest architects of the period and area. We move on lastly to the stone houses of Molina, one of the prizes of Valpollicella. The district of Marano di Valpollicella displays a high culture of winbe, olives, nature and monuments of its Medieval and Renaissance past (not to be missed: Fasanara and the sanctuary of Santa Maria Valverde), while at Negrar, a vast comune consisting of numerous localities, we visit the three villas Bertoldi, Rizzardi and Quinterelli. A recommended stop is also at Prun, in the magnificent scenery of Lessini.
SOAVE. The last of the gems of Verona we encounter during our tour. On the hills between Verona and Vicenza which are home to the garganega grape, the “secret” ingredient of Soave and Reciotowhite wines, whose fame extends far beyond national borders. The historical centre at the heart of the vineyard culture here is the medieval village of Soave itself. We visit the castle with its hall of the guards and lords’ apartments, while in the town centre we admire the 14th century church of San Lorenzo, the Palazzo Scaligero, today home to the Comune, and the Palazzo dei Giudici.
We also make a stop in the villages of Colognola ai Colli (villa Verità-Montanari), Illasi (the Palladian villa Carlotti and villa Peres Pompei Sagramoso), Cazzano di Tramigna (San Pietro), Montecchia di Crosara (San Salvatore), Roncà, and Monteforte d’Alpone: all centres dedicated to wine rich in precious architecture and history.
The tradition of the euganean hills
We continue to the province of Padua, to another zone with a great tradition of wine production: the Euganean Hills. This is in fact home to 13 DOC wines, among which Tokay, Chardonnay, Pinot Bianco, Merlot, Cabernet and Serprino, though the true speciality of the area is considered the Moscato Fior d’Arancio.
There are 15 comunes scattered throughout the the hill terrain and thermal area of the Euganea, an area of wide-ranging riches: from the natural beauties of the countryside to those of its art and history.
A tour through the Euganean Hills combines archaeological sites, medieval castles and fortresses, and abbeys and churches, passing through villas and gardens from the Venetian rule and rustic farmhouses. Completing the picture are the luxuriant nature, the fruits of the local agriculture, the thermal spa tradition, and the area’s famed hospitality and historic towns which provide the best facilities for the visitor.
In additon to partaking of the best of wine tourism, we visit the Castello del Catajo at Battaglia Terme, the Castello Cini at Monselice, Villa Vescovi at Luvigliano, the gardens of the Villa Barbarigo at Galzignano Terme, the abbey of Praglia and the Museo Geopaleontologico of Cava Bomba at Cinto Euganeo.
We round off this day with a visit to the Medieval city of Este and to Arqua Petrarca, with the home of the famous poet Petrarch, and the comune of Abano Terme, famed for its thermal spas.
The road of DOC LIson Pramaggiore
Today we move to the border of Friuli-Venezia Giulia, in the province of Venice. The peculiar characteristics of the terrain has favoured the cultivation of vines since antiquity, and reached extremely high levels of quality during the period of the Venetian Republic. Today it cultivates the most famous grapes of the international and local (Friuli) reputation. Outstanding examples include Cabernet, Merlot and Tokay, though lesser-known local varieties such as Malbech, a very rare french red, are also worthy of attention.
The comunes which belong to this zone, the nerve-centre for national wine production, boast ancient origins and historical monuments of enormous importance. The top of the list for both reasons is Portogruaro, which also includes the district of Lison, home of the classic Tokay.
Loved for its Venetian charm, Portogruaro is known also as the City of Gates. It was an extremely busy river port thanks to its twinning with the Venetian Republic. We experience this ancient spirit in the Palazzo delle Loggia, a splendid 13th century edifice of latticework and Ghibilline crenellation with a double row of windows. Behind the loggia there are the ancient fish market and two mills also dating from the 1400s.
Strongly recommended is a visit to the nearby city of Concordia Sagittaria, which carries with it some of the greatest historical evidence of the Imperial and Palaeochristian epochs of the Veneto. Other obligatory stops on our wine tour also noted for their historical interest are San Stino di Livenza, Caorle (a genuine historical city famed also for its fish-based cuisine), Pramaggiore (a titular of Doc wines, also home to the Strada dei Vini Doc Lison Pramaggiore, Consorzio di Tutela and the Enoteca Regionale) and San Michele al Tagliamento.
The home of Prosecco
We conclude our tour along the road of the high quality wines of the Marcan Tervigiana, where for 100 years the celebrated Prosecco di Conegliano andValdobbiadene, excellent sparking wines, have been produced. An area supremely equipped for gastronomic tourism, enriched by the monuments, buildings and remains of its glorious past, and framed by the green rolling hills of the region.
Conegliano, our first stop, was for centuries a military fortress, later passing under the rule of the Venetian Republic and began the production of wine and oil, and set up crafts and trade links. Hence the rebirth of the city.
Today Conegliano, together with Valdobbiadene, is one of the two producers of prosecco wine, and is home to the historic Wine-making School, founded in 1877 by Antonio Carpenè. From the town, the Strada del Vino Bianco(white wine route) sets off, winding its way through the villages of the Piave district, arriving at Valdobbiadene. As well as the grapes for prosecco, a sophisticated premium-quality red is also produced here.
The city’s cultural attractions are focussed along the town’s main street, the Via XX Settembre, an arcaded thoroughfare of distinguished frescoed palazzi of Gothic-Venetian style. The greatest work of art present is surely Cima da Conegliano’s Virgin and Child with Saints in the Duomo.
Other important landmarks for wine-making in the area which we will visit are San Pietro di Feletto (with its splendid parish church), Refrontolo, Pieve and Farra di Soligo, with their ancient houses and Venetian villas, and, last but by no means least, Valdobbiadene itself: the wine capital which, with San Pietro di Barbozza, produces the Superior Cartizze and possesses the greatest number of prosecco vineyards. Each September the Villa dei Cedri holds the prestigious National Exhibition of Spumanti.
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