Outside of Italy, the Italian region of Veneto is mainly known for the presence on its territory of the beautiful city of Venice and its colorful little islands. But this large territory of north-eastern Italy is rich in history and places of incomparable beauty such as the Dolomites, the coastal beaches, the monumental sanctuaries and much more. Today we want to take you through the green hills of the province of Treviso, an area known worldwide for the production of the Prosecco wine, which was born and is still produced here. This small rural region is certainly a perfect and less known destination for food and wine tourism and cycling lovers. Therefore, here is an itinerary not to be missed if you decide to spend here some days of vacation!
All over the world, Veneto is synonymous of Venice. The great lagoon city, with its unquestionable charm and its peculiarities, certainly steals the scene to all other places and attracts the attention of travelers who choose the regions of northeastern Italy for a vacation or a weekend.
However, the region of Veneto is very big and, in its territory, it successfully combines the maritime spirit of Venice and the mountain soul of the provinces of Belluno and Treviso. It also has a rich and varied history that gives it unique characteristics in the Italian cultural and tourist panorama. That’s why today we want to leave the well-known and popular lagoon and move a little further north, close to the Alps: we bring you with us to the province of Treviso, to discover the green hills of Prosecco in Conegliano and Valdobbiadene, territories that, moreover, since 2019 are part of the Unesco World Heritage Sites. And speaking of Prosecco wine: did you know that there is not only one Prosecco? If you love Prosecco and you buy it regularly, keep reading this article and you will discover what to pay attention to in order to make a conscious and quality choice!
Arriving by train
This area of Veneto is easily accessible by train from the main Swiss cities and from the cities of northern and central Italy. Fast trains will allow you to get as far as Padua, which is further down the plain. To reach the area of Valdobbiadene, therefore, it will be necessary to take one or two local trains depending on the chosen solution. Our suggestion, therefore, is to get to Padua by train and there rent a car for your transfers during your stay.
To reach Padua, SBB offers a direct train that departs from Zurich and passes through Zug, Arth-Goldau, Lugano. Train tickets can be purchased through the SBB website or through the SBB app and, as always, we suggest to check in advance the updated timetables and the different travel options.
Arriving by car
This area of Veneto is easily accessible by car from Switzerland and from the cities of northern and central Italy. From the north-eastern part of Switzerland, it is advisable to reach the nearest exit of the A2 highway which will allow you to cross the national border and reach the area of Milan. From there, follow the A4 highway to Vicenza where, through the A31, you will reach the new Highway Pedemontana Veneta. The Pedemontana, currently under completion, is accessible up to the small city of Montebelluna. From here you will have to continue until Valdobbiadene on local roads.
The journey by car from Zurich takes about 6 hours and a half and from Geneva about 6 hours and 45 minutes. We would also like to point out that in Italy all the main highways require the payment of the toll at the exit tollbooth through cash or credit cards.
Arriving by plane
This area of Veneto can also be reached by plane through the international airport of Venice or the small airport of Treviso, which is reached by low cost airlines such as Ryanair or Wizzair. Venice airport is about 13 km from the city and about one hour and ten minutes by car from Valdobbiadene. Treviso airport, instead, is located near the city center and about 45 minutes by car from Valdobbiadene.
In both cases, the advice is to reach the airport and there rent a car to move around during your stay.
Treviso, a small jewel
For many years squeezed by the competition of the other super stars of tourism in the region of Veneto, such as Venice and Lake Garda, today Treviso is a tourist destination very appreciated by lovers of less frequented destination but not for this less fascinating. Indeed, the city offers opportunities for all tastes: romantic Venetian-style alleys, imposing crenellated palaces, large boutiques of Italian and international fashion brands and open-air food markets. The historic city center is small and cozy, it is easy to get around on foot and is surrounded by the ancient medieval walls on which three city gates still open today: Porta San Tommaso, Porta Santi Quaranta and Porta Altinia. The historic center is entirely pedestrian and access to cars is prohibited, under penalty of a hefty fine. However, all along the city walls, you will find several parking areas well marked for those who arrive here by car.
We suggest you to start your tour of the city from Piazza dei Signori. In this square, the real heart of the city, stands the Palazzo del Podestà, a historic building in red brick built in the Middle Ages, and the Civic Tower with its 48-meter clock, symbol of Treviso and absolutely fascinating with its crenellated profile.
However, our advice is to walk around the center without a precise itinerary, to hunt for little corners and hidden gems such as the Buranelli area, with the canals that hide under and between the walls of the buildings, or the Pescheria area, an ancient artificial island in the heart of the city that for many years has hosted the fish market during the day but that in the late afternoon becomes a perfect destination for an aperitif or a snack.
Valdobbiadene: the birthplace of Prosecco wine
Located along the banks of Piave river, the small town has just 10,000 inhabitants but offers good opportunities for food and wine tourism lovers. There are many wineries in the area open to the public which offer tastings and the possibility to buy wines. Moreover, in the last years among the roads of the prosecco hills were born many restaurants and agritourisms which offer local food of good quality and at a good price. Valdobbiadene, small and quiet, is the perfect base for your visit in the area. For a visit in the city, we suggest you to start from the central Piazza Marconi: recently renovated with an essential style, the new square divides the opinions of the inhabitants. However, we find that its simple style gives value to the beauty of the buildings that overlook it, including the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta and its high bell tower. Don’t miss the chance to drink a really well-made Aperol Spritz while sitting at the tables of Caffè Roma or the ancient Caffè Commercio! Then, take your car back or, if you’re not afraid of the slight inclines, reach the Chapel of San Floriano for a panoramic view of the valley and the city.
Furthermore, during the summer we suggest you don’t miss a visit to the top of Mount Cesen. Here, in addition to the magnificent view of the plain that on clear days reaches the sea, you can try the cuisine of one of the traditional “Malghe”, the summer farms specialized in the production of dairy products and cheeses.
But probably the most unusual (and famous) experiences it is possible to have in Valdobbiadene is having a snack at the “Osteria senz’Oste”, a peculiar tavern where you will find neither cooks nor waiters. Food and wine are immediately available to customers, who after having chosen what they want to have and paid it by putting some cash in a wooden box, will be able to choose a table among vineyards and have their meal with a magnificent view on the hills. We have been there on several occasions, but we must admit that the popularity reached by the place in recent years and the exponential increase of customers have partly changed its charm.
Spirituality and history: the great Abbey of Follina
The village of Follina is counted among the most beautiful villages in Italy and certainly has many attractions to discover. However, if we are bringing you all the way here it is mainly because of its wonderful Abbey. This amazing building, built in 1300 on a pre-existing structure of the twelfth century, is today one of the best examples of Cistercian art in Veneto. Of particular beauty is the internal cloister, dating back to 1268 and characterized by an elegant and varied colonnade and a perfectly square plan with a fountain in the center. It’s incredible the peace you can breathe within its walls, as soon as you cross the entrance door! Even the great basilica deserves attention because of its marvelous frescoes and the square-shaped bell tower, probably the most ancient artifact of the whole architectural complex.
Follina Abbey can be visited every day from 7:00 to 12:00 and from 14:30 to 19:00. The entrance is free.
Prosecco: what you need to know for a quality choice
Prosecco has been growing in popularity since the 1990s until it became, in 2019, the best-selling Italian wine abroad. Its fruity and floral characteristics make it well appreciated for an aperitif in company, an evening with friends or an elegant pre-dinner. However, the increased popularity, in particular on the foreign market, and the exponential increase of the demand has led to the creation of many alternative products and some imitations that, in good or bad faith, are passed off as Prosecco. So if you are a prosecco lover, be very careful about what you buy and learn to read the label!
To begin with, in order to confirm the strong connection between the quality of wine and the territory which produces it, you should know that Prosecco wine is produced only in the North-East of Italy, specifically in the regions of Veneto and Friuli-Venezia Giulia. Moreover, according to the region of production, Prosecco is classified as DOC, DOCG and DOCG Superiore di Cartizze, a feature that reflects on the disciplinary applied during production and on the quality level of the product. So what changes? Here is a synthetic summary:
Prosecco Doc - Controlled Denomination of Origin
– It is produced in a wide, predominantly flat production area that includes the provinces of Belluno, Padua, Treviso, Venice, Vicenza, Gorizia, Pordenone, Trieste and Udine.
– The flat terrain allows for processing almost entirely by agricultural machinery;
– The wider production area and the use of machinery allows the production of very high volumes and keeps production costs low;
– For its characteristics, the DOC is a product studied for the needs of the international market and for large-scale distribution.
Prosecco Superiore DOCG - Denomination of Controlled and Guaranteed Origin
– It is produced in the small hilly area of Conegliano-Valdobbiadene and Asolo, in Veneto;
– The hilly terrain does not allow the intensive use of machinery, so the processing is almost entirely manual;
– The small production area and the manual processing force a reduced production, in favor of a higher quality level but at a slightly higher price.
Prosecco Superiore DOCG Cartizze - Denomination of Controlled and Guaranteed Origin from the “Cartizze" Area
– This is the top of the range Prosecco, produced in the “Cartizze” area;
– The production area is of just 108 hectares and grape production is reduced to a minimum, a circumstance which allows the production of very high quality grapes with a high sugar content.
– Production is significantly reduced in favor of a very high level of quality but at a much higher price.
Remember: the indication of the place of production as well as the classification (DOC, DOCG or DOCG Superiore) must always be clearly present on the label! So pay attention next time you go to buy a bottle of prosecco!
Asolo and its medieval city center
Located on the hilly strip that separates the Venetian plain from Belluno’s Prealps, the enchanting town of Asolo is really a little jewel that has been able, over time, to keep its medieval aspect almost intact. The “City of a Hundred Horizons”, as the Italian poet Giosuè Carducci called it, offers magnificent views and romantic panoramas of absolute beauty. You will love to cross its medieval gateway and get lost in the narrow streets of the old town. It is no coincidence that the English poet Robert Browning coined the verb “asoling” to indicate the slow wandering in contemplation of beauty. And that’s exactly what we suggest you do here! But in doing so, we suggest you do not miss a visit to the “Rocca”, a military fortress built between the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries from which you can enjoy a magnificent view of the Asolo Hills, and the Castle, known as the Castle of Queen Cornaro. While the fortress can be visited usually on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays at the cost of € 2.00 per person, the Castle today houses a theater, therefore its interiors can be visited only during shows and events. The outer courtyard is however accessible and offers visitors a small Café for a snack or an aperitif at sunset. In addition, from here you can access the Civic Tower every Saturday, Sunday and holidays at a cost of € 2.00 per person.
The grandeur of the Temple of Canova in Possagno
A grandiose building that you really would not expect to find in a natural setting of rare beauty like the one surrounding the small town of Possagno. The “Temple of Canova” as it is generally known, is actually a religious building consecrated to the Holy Trinity and it is also the parish church of the town. The building, designed and almost entirely financed by Antonio Canova, famous Italian sculptor and painter, was built in 1800 and inaugurated in 1830. In the intentions of its designer, the Temple wants to symbolically represent three fundamental phases of the European history: the Greek civilization, represented by the neoclassical colonnade, the Roman civilization, represented in the central body similar to the Roman Pantheon and finally the apse of the high altar that refers to the Christian era. The result is a very impressive building with an external diameter of 35.764 meters, walls of almost 8 meters and 16 huge columns of Doric order with a height of more than 10 meters.
The Temple of Canova can be visited from Tuesday to Friday from 9.00 to 12.00 and from 14.00 to 17.00; Saturday and pre-holidays from 9.00 to 12.00 and from 14.00 to 17.00; Sunday and holidays from 14.00 to 17.00.
Since it is a religious building regularly in function, tourist visits are not allowed during the celebrations.
Inside the temple it is also possible to take part in a very particular guided tour that, at the cost of € 2,50, will lead you to the dome, on the top of the big neoclassical church.
In memory of the past: the Sacrarium Cima Grappa
Let’s close this roundup of places not to be missed in the lands of Prosecco with a destination probably unusual, but that certainly tells a lot about the soul of a place that has a long history of conflicts and border wars.
Few people know, in fact, that this entire area was the scene of the most bitter phases of the First World War, an event of which many signs remain on the territory both in the form of defensive and military structures and in the form of sanctuaries and military shrines built in memory of the soldiers who fell here, both Italian and foreign.
The Military Sacrarium of Cima Grappa is one of these places out of time. It rises on top of Mount Grappa, from which it takes its name, at an altitude of 1,776 meters. Built in 1935, it guards the mortal remains of 12,615 fallen soldiers, 10,332 of whom are unknown. Its architectural structure is definitely imposing, consisting of five concentric circles, each of which is four meters high and surrounded by a circular shelf ten meters wide.
The place is worth a visit not only because it offers a splendid view of the valley below, but above all to reflect on events of the past that, to our eyes so far away in time, should be a lesson for the future.
Despite the fact that in the last years the whole area has been enriched with accommodation facilities and deluxe restaurants, we prefer to suggest you two traditional family-run taverns that, after all, represent the real essence of the traditional Veneto cuisine, made of a strange mixture of meat and fish dishes. In the area of Valdobbiadene, we suggest you to have lunch at Trattoria al Pescatore, in Via S. Giacomo 13 in Pederobba. We tell you right away: don’t be scared by the scruffy exterior! It is, in fact, a simple traditional trattoria family-run and without too many frills that offers homemade food of good quality. The fish dishes are really good as well as the meat! Instead, if you prefer to stay in the area of Valdobbiadene, you can have a dinner with high quality meat at Antica Osteria il Borgo, Via Celestino Piva 123.
If you are in Treviso for lunch or dinner, we suggest you not to miss the opportunity to try the food of the Locanda Luana, in Piazza S. Maria dei Battuti 30. We suggest you to try the the baccalà alla vicentina and, for dessert, the homemade Tiramisu!
You cannot come to the area and not have a wine tasting or buy wine! The whole area of Valdobbiadene is really rich in wineries producing excellent quality wines, therefore it would not be necessary to suggest you any of them. However if you really want a recommendation, we suggest you Azienda Agricola Marsuret at Via Barch 17 in Guia di Valdobbiadene or Azienda Agricola Le Colture, at Via Follo 5 in S. Stefano di Valdobbiadene.
Are you planning a trip through the hills of Prosecco in Valdobbiadene and you have doubts or concerns? Leave us a comment below and we will answer you as soon as possible!