Between the crowded canals of Venice and the ashy rocks of the Dolomites rests the unexpectedly lush “Strada del Prosecco” Italy’s oldest wine route. Grapes produced here are used solely for Italy’s most famous sparkling wine, Prosecco.
Over seven days, we will explore the enchanting Prosecco Hills, up close and personal. We strap on our shoes for all manner of terrain, including cobble-stone streets, dirt roads and forest trails, taking us through picturesque rolling hills, charming villages, and inside local wineries.
Don’t worry─there will be lots of chances to stop and savour local old-style cuisine and some refreshing bubbles along the way.
IT TAKES A VILLA
There are no shortage of towns to visit in the area, each with its own unique charms, fascinating history, and stunning buildings.
After arriving from Venice, the first town we visit is Cison di Valmarino, one of the best-preserved villages in the area. Inhabited since perhaps the Prehistoric times, Bronze Age artifacts still remain here, and it was an important defense position against the barbarian invasions of the Middles Ages.
The gentle walk follows a waterway and crosses tranquil woodlands, passing by the ancient Castel Brando, which offers panoramic views of farms and villages below. Built in the Roman Age, the monolithic medieval castle soars 370 metres above sea level, built into the Dolomites rocks. Over the years, it has been used as everything from a military hospital to monastery, centre for spiritual studies to a 4-star hotel.
Not far from Castel Brando is the small town of Follina, immersed in Veneto’s lush landscapes. There are lots of lovely, authentic restaurants around, but it’s most famous for its 12th-century Cistercian monastery of Santa Maria. Don’t miss the stunning cloister!
Across the Piave River is Maser, home to the Villa di Maser (Villa Barbaro), a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Built by master Italian architect Andrea Palladio, six of its rooms are adorned by beautiful frescos by Paolo Veronese.
And most impressive is the romantic city of Treviso, with its dramatic protective city walls and tranquil waterways. It’s also the birthplace of delectable Italian dessert, tiramisu, so you’d be wise to sample some while you’re here!
THE FULL MONTE
Venture away from town to experience the extraordinary natural wonders and untouched splendor of the Italian countryside, from stunning mountain-top vistas to serene waterways.
Head beyond Treviso’s walls to follow the Sile River, the longest river of resurgent waters in Europe. You will have the chance to see some of the country’s local flora and fauna, including the colourful Kingfisher.
For a bit more exercise (and to burn off that tiramisu), climb Monte San Giorgio, another UNESCO site, since it contains the single best known record of marine life in the Triassic, period. Its unique combination of tropical lagoon environment, separated from the open sea, and diverse marine life, made it an ideal location for fossil preservation.
But for the best views in the area, visit the top of the 1570-metre Monte Cesen, humble by Alps-standards, but the highest in the area. It offers a stunning panorama, stretching as far as the Eastern Alps, Dolomites, and even Venice.
GET THEE TO THE WINERY
And let’s not forget the reason we’re here: the wine! Veneto is one of the world’s best yet largely undiscovered wine regions. The endless rows of grapevines on its hills are dedicated exclusively to Glera grapes, used for Italy’s most prized sparkling wine: Prosecco.
Valdobbiadene, the capital of Prosecco country, is a wine growing paradise on the edge of the Alps, providing the perfectly cool climate for grapes. But the steep slopes make it only possible to do the work by hand.
The majority of the wine-makers span fifteen towns and 20,000 hectares, including fraziones, San Pietro di Barbozza and Santo Stefano. This makes is the ideal location to meet local producers (with generations of wine-making history), tour their twisty vineyards, and learn their process. Oh, and sample their deliciously bubbly creations!
BY THE BOTTLE
• Made in the Veneto region from Glera grapes
• Fermented in stainless steel tanks, rather than in the bottle
• Intensely aromatic and crisp, with apple, pear, white peach, and apricot notes
• Two varieties: Frizzante (lightly sparkling) and Spumante (full sparkling)
• 11-12% alcohol
• 121 calories per glass
• 150 million bottles produced each year
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