JOURNEY IN THE LANDS OF PROSECCO SUPERIORE - go to the map
A bubbly and lively route in the province of Treviso
There are two DOCG Proseccos: the Colli Asolani and the Conegliano Valdobbiadene. The latter is the most famous and travels the world. However, not everybody knows that behind these bubbles there is a wonderful land of soft hills, historic residences, vineyards and olive trees that recalls Tuscany, foods of a longtime farmer tradition. Therefore it is not only because of the wine if the Alta Marca of Treviso has been able to use it for its economic and cultural relaunch. The challenge now is to increase the biological production for an increasingly sustainable development of these hills.
The hills that are framing the Venetian villas from Asolo to Maser, stop where the mountains of Montello rise, isolated and abandoned as a "huge stranded whale" – this is the definition of Giovanni Comisso - theatre of war in 1915-18 and major supplier of wood for the Republic of Venice thanks to its oak and chestnut woods transformed into ships’ masts. The Wine Route of Montello and Colli Asolani draws a cosier and less known oenological landscape rather than the one in the north of Montello, above the Piave and among the hills that from Valdobbiadene and Conegliano - the golden zone of Prosecco - arrive up to Vittorio Veneto. Asolo too has its own DOCG Prosecco and Montello produces wines that superbly chimes with bunches of honey fungus, soups, risotto and omelets with wild herbs and soft cheese (the "casatelle") that make this part of the Treviso area attractive.
A panoramic shot of Piazza di Valdobbiadene
However, we want to bring you along the 35 kilometres that separate Valdobbiadene to Conegliano, where the production of the Conegliano Valdobbiande Prosecco Superiore DOCG is concentrated. A unique territory in the whole world, outlined by rows of vines that brush the soft and even steep hills, dotted with villages, spots of woodland and Venetian villas. A territory that coincides with the Strada del Prosecco and Vini dei Colli Conegliano Valdobbiadene, already established in the distant 1966, and which is a candidate for World Heritage Site. Its protection is entrusted to the Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG Consortium that, with its 3,000 families of winegrowers, has been able to develop the wine economy by perfectly integrating it with the territory. The fifteen Prosecco municipalities, included in a wide area of triangular shape with Vittorio Veneto, Conegliano and Valdobbiadene as its vertexes, are, in addition to these last three: Vidor, Farra di Soligo, Miane, Follina Cison di Valmarino, Tarzo, San Pietro di Feletto, Refrontolo, Pieve di Soligo, Susegana, Colle Umberto and San Vendemiano. Here too, as in Valpolicella, every bottle comes from its own vineyard: the area of Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco is divided into 43 "banks" that indicate just as many territorial expressions. The Municipalities with a greater number of banks are Valdobbiadene (six) and San Pietro di Feletto (five).
Santo Stefano di Valdobbiadene surrounded by the famous Cartizze vineyards.
The starting point of our itinerary is the noble town of Valdobbiadene that preserves as an enchanted garden its plot of land from which the Cartizze originates, king of sparkling wines. Valdobbiadene is therefore the other Conegliano, the Cartizze side, a cru that is the result of the perfect combination between a mild microclimate and the variety of very ancient soils. The Cartizze is a Prosecco that is produced with grapes that only come from the villages of San Pietro di Barbozza, Saccol and Santo Stefano di Valdobbiadene, and that give rise to a more refined wine than champagne, with an alcoholic strength that doesn’t go under 11 degrees. The carbon dioxide bubbles, originated from the second natural fermentation of this wine are the protagonists from March to June of the Primavera del Prosecco Superiore, the wine festival that reached its 21st edition, which engages twenty exhibitions about wine in a single path between the excellences of the Conegliano and Valdobbiadene area. This profusion of events on the route of Prosecco - from Slow Bike to Nordic Walking among vineyards or chestnut woods, from food and wine walks to taste spots - concerns the whole territory. In Valdobbiadene the Exhibitions of Prosecco and Cartizze take place in the villages of Santo Stefano (second half of March), Guia (between March and April) and San Pietro di Barbozza (Easter and the following period). Here, in the frescoed wine cellar of the historic site of the Villa dei Cedri, 130 members of the Confraternity of Valdobbiadene gather every year since 1946 to elect the "Bottle of Valdobbiadene". In addition to the Cedri one, the country has three other Venetian villas: Villa Barberina, Villa Moron De Gastaldis and, in the hamlet of San Vito, Villa Barbon Bellicelli. Framed by rows, the small village of Guia hides the brilliant project of Canova, who designed the church of San Giacomo, built in 1520 and restored in the 1920s. Strolling among vineyards and wineries is the most beautiful thing that you can do here. But beauty has also other appeals, like the paintings preserved in the parish church of Valdobbiadene, by artists like Palma Giovane, Paris Bordon and, in the rectory, by Rosalba Carriera.
The Molinetto della Croda in Refrontolo
Farra di Soligo is another interesting stop, starting from the church of San Vigilio that, seen from afar, seems mystically supported by the vineyards of the Prosecco Superiore. Built on a hill in the XII century, the church has a sturdy belltower and frescoes of the XV century. In a panoramic position, there is also the eighteenth-century Villa Caragiani Badoer of clear Palladian shapes. Other buildings of architectural value are Casa Callegari with the sixteenth-century portico on the main floor, the Renaissance rectory and the parish church, the eighteenth-century Villa Brandolini in hamlet of Soligo and, in the one of Col San Martino, Villa della Rovere that recalls the simple lines of rural dwellings of the Treviso countryside. We recommend you a step at the dairy that produces Soligo cheese since 1883. The Pro Loco of Farra organizes in May the Strawberry and Asparagus feast, the right opportunity to enjoy risotto and crêpes with asparagus and the Rive Vive, a food and wine tour on the hills. The Exhibition of the Valdobbiadene DOCG is the oldest wine feast of the March of Treviso: it began in 1949 when some people from Col San Martino distributed glasses in front of the church.
For those who like literature, Pieve di Soligo is the hometown of the poet Andrea Zanzotto who was born here in 1921 (and died in Conegliano in 2011). Here you can eat polenta e osèi, you can socialize in October in front of the preparation of the Giant Spit, the mixed meat spit that is the gastronomic excellence of the area. You can visit the parish church of IX-X century and you will hear Zanzotto’s verses: "By now the primerose and the heat / are at the foot of the world with its green acuity / The exposed carpets / the lodges vibrated by the wind and the sun / quiet grub of thorny woods; / my distant pain, distinct thirst / like another life in my chest / Here all you can do is to be wrapped around with the / landscape / to turn your back to it". The church of Santa Maria Assunta with the altarpiece by Francesco da Milano, active painter at the time of Titian, and other minor churches adorn the old town centre, together with palaces, villas and historical hamlets like Borgo Stolfi. Villa Brandolini in the hamlet of Solighetto is a good example of 18th century architecture.
Follina, newly inserted in the association Borghi più belli d’Italia (the most beautiful villages of Italy), was founded near the Abbey of Santa Maria around 1150 and was recently restored. It has already set to itself some ambitious goals, like how to change the plan of roads to exclude the heavy traffic from the centre, the transformation of Piazza IV Novembre into a pedestrian area and making Palazzo Barberis, recently purchased, an important cultural centre. In addition to the wine route, here there is also the one of wool thanks to the presence of the ancient Lanificio Paoletti and the redevelopment of historical woollen itineraries that overlook the river Follina.
After a few kilometres away, we are in Cison di Valmarino, that has been inserted with full credit for a few years in Borghi più belli d’Italia and boasts one of the most well preserved old town centres between the municipalities of the Prosecco Superiore area. In the harmonious Piazza Roma and in the entire village the dwellings’ shutters are all coloured in "Brandolini red" or brown, there are Venetian villas of the eighteenth century and you can feel the atmosphere of an orderly and well-kept province. From the old town centre, skirting the torrent Rujo, the Via dei Mulini winds in the woods, a water path characterized by the presence of interesting evidence of industrial archaeology. From the hamlet of Tovena the “Road of 100 Days” goes up for 17 hairpin bends until San Boldo Pass, completed by Austrian military engineers in 1918. Cison boasts an excellent network of marked trails, a bike path, 4 museums, 18 restaurants, 10 accommodation facilities and a rich calendar of events, among which stands out Artigianato Vivo with about 250 exhibitors. A magical place is the village of Rolle, a FAI (the equivalent of the National Trust) spot surrounded by vineyards and olive groves, rare evidence of peasant life as proved by the ancient washhouse and the drinking troughs of the Rosada. Andrea Zanzotto sang of the hamlet, who renamed it Dolle: "Now it comes to comfort me / with a long visit / the water of Dolle / that gave ten hills to the village". If it is a matter of man or nature, the DNA reveals the roots. Someone went to look for the roots of Prosecco in Armenia on Mount Ararat, between the vines planted, according to the Bible, by Noah, which would thus be the firsts in history. According to another research on the screws’ DNA, it was the ancient vines of Rolle that preserved the genetic lines of Prosecco Superiore. Here is located the winery Vigne Matte, winner with its Prosecco Docg of various prizes in international competitions, which is visible only from the ridge where the slope descends toward the vineyards. The cellar also represents a fitting architectural realization because it perfectly becomes integrated with the landscape.
Another symbol of rural civilization is located in Refrontolo: known as Molinetto della Croda, it is an old mill that in the evening, during the Summer Festival, is illuminated creating suggestive light effects on the waters of the torrent that supplies it, the Lierza. The flour obtained from the mill still makes polenta special which accompanies the spit, that should be watered not much or not only with Prosecco Superiore, as with the more aromatic and full-bodied Refrontolo Passito, to which in the springtime is dedicated an exhibition of wines in Barchessa Spada. The church of Santa Margherita, the eighteenth-century Ticozzi and Caneve Spada Villas and the sixteenth-century Villa Capretta are part of the itinerary, in addition to the cellars and the mill, which also houses a small museum of the milling and periodic exhibitions about wine.
San Pietro di Feletto is an agricultural centre on the road to Conegliano that distinguishes itself for the Pieve di San Pietro in the homonymous hamlet and for beef breeding and the production of milk. The parish church, in Romanesque style, was developed in the XI century on a more ancient and previous core, and took the current shape after a wide period of time, between the XII and XV century. Particular is the one under the portico of the facade depicting the Sunday Christ, a rare iconography that represents Jesus bleeding, martyrized by work tools: a warning for those who work in the day consecrated to rest. Here too there are wonderful panoramas between vineyards and mountains, several remarkable Venetian villas and beautiful rural houses scattered on the territory. There is also an exhibition of hill wines organized by the Pro Loco between May and June to spotlight not only the Prosecco, but also the DOC Colli di Conegliano, Conegliano red and white, and Merlot, Chardonnay, Cabernet, Marzemino.
And here we are in Conegliano, which this year celebrates a thousand years. Actually, the town is more ancient but the first document that attests its existence dates back to 1016. On 11th September of that year the Emperor Henry II assigned the feud to the family Da Camino. From the old town centre you can pleasantly walk on the rise that, alongside the ancient walls, leads to the top of the hill on which the castle was built, between the XII and the XIV century. Of Castelvecchio remain only a few ruins, including the Torre della Guardia site of the civic museum, and the Torre Saracena that houses a restaurant. The past lives again thanks to the Dama Vivente, a game of checkers played in the square with characters in Renaissance costumes, inspired by facts and people that actually existed. Always new narrative lines meet history, art and the culture of wine and food of the territory. The art of making sparkling wine began in 1877: the effervescent bubbles of Conegliano Valdobbiadene act as a counterpart for the peaceful Madonne by Cima da Conegliano, the great painter of 1400 that left the only and beautiful opera the Madonna con Bambino on the throne, with saints and angels of 1493 in the fourteenth-century cathedral of his hometown. In the same church, also appreciated for the portico with ogival arches of Battuti’s school, you can admire a canvas by Palma Giovane. Various noble palaces with frescoed facades overlook the porticoed Via XX Settembre: we should mention the renaissance Palazzo Sarcinelli at number 132, the seventeenth-century Palazzo Montalban Vecchio, attributed to Longhena, at no. 75 and the former sixteenth-century Monte di Pietà at no. 133. In Via Cima no. 34, there is the birthplace of Cima da Conegliano, transformed into a small museum with the reproduction of his works.