A perfect example of how humans and nature can work together to create something close to perfection, the ‘Strada del Prosecco’ is not just a journey for an excellent glass of bubbles, but a pilgrimage to discover the centuries of passion and determination that go into every golden drop. A newly appointed UNESCO heritage site, the Prosecco hills of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene is an appropriate place to uncork a bottle of the region’s finest.
Officially, ‘Prosecco Road’ is the route, established in the late 1960s, which runs from Conegliano to Valdobbiadene between towns and historic villas, many of which are open to the public. Just as much a gastronomic epicentre, it’s also a place to indulge on many varieties of cheeses produced in the area and the red chicory of Treviso IGP – all against the backdrop of the majestic Eastern Alps and Dolomites.
About 30km north of Treviso, Conegliano is situated at the foothills of the Treviso Prealps. A walk through the town gives you ample time to admire the noble palaces, Renaissance buildings and the arcades of Contrada Grande, while in the background, in addition to the cliffs, stands the magnificent castle. The starting point of any tour has to be the Cerletti Institute, the oldest Italian wine school founded in 1876. If you continue to explore, you’ll be met with the eighteenth-century villa ‘Ghin Montalban di Collalbrigo’. A small detour through Refrontolo leads you to discover the pretty 17th-century watermill ‘Molinetto della Croda’ which is carved into the rock. In the small town of Solighetto you’ll be presented with the elegant 16th-century Villa Brandolini, which is now the Consortium for the Protection of Prosecco Conegliano Valdobbiadene DOCG Wine.
Once past Farra di Soligo and Colbertaldo, dense vineyards invade the gaze, marking the beginning of the DOCG area of the Prosecco Superiore where the most prized type of wine is produced. If you are looking for the perfect photographic shot, Santo Stefano is the best spot to admire the precise rows upon rows of vines. Valdobbiadene stands out with its neoclassical palaces, the 15th-century Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta and the iconic bell tower in Piazza Marconi, dating back to the late 18th century.
This trip would, of course, not be complete without a tour of the region’s wineries. Begin your well-deserved tasting in the area of Crocetta del Montello, near the banks of the Piave. Just between the DOCG areas of Valdobbiadene and the DOC areas of Montello wines, is Villa Sandi, a magnificent Palladian building. The Moretti Polegato family, for several decades now, has handed down from generation to generation the secrets to creating their best vintage. To complete your experience, the Locanda Sandi presents accompanying Venetian dishes. Top tip: visit the cellars and ask for a taste of their famous Millesimato (you won’t regret it!).
Cantina San Gregorio is an almost entirely female-run establishment. The techniques used for the processing of the grapes respect their surroundings, from harvesting to bottling, avoiding anything that could damage the soil. The jewel of the cellar: the Superior Extra Dry DOCG, a limited run that is perfect for a special occasion.
On the highest hill of Cartizze in Santo Stefano di Valdobbiadene, the Miotto family has been cultivating the Prosecco Superiore and Cartizze Superiore vines since 1838. The scrupulous method and historic processes have led the Col Vetoraz company to obtain awards and prizes for its wines. Taste a glass of their Prosecco Superiore with Zero Dosage, which is even more intense than Brut, and is velvety and aromatic.
Last but not least is the Cantina Bortolomiol, which was established in 1760. The Bortolomiol family not only creates award-winning wines, but they also display their private collections in exhibitions in the Bortolomiol Museum. One of the winery’s greatest accolades is the Governor’s Reserve, a refined and very, very dry Extra Brut Millesimato.
Hiking in the hills
Time to clear the head? How about a hike? The most famous is the path of the Vedette, which is about 11km long and departs from Soligo, arriving in Col San Martino. The same “lookouts” that were used during the First World War are now considered the best panoramic sites to take in the surrounding vista. If you are looking for something less demanding, the Prosecco Ring is just 8km, departing and ending in San Pietro di Barbozza. Everything can be bravely tackled in two and a half hours of trekking or 45 minutes by bike. For avid cyclists, the 90km route from Nevegal to Conegliano is highly recommended, and a glass of bubbles is the perfect way to celebrate your adventurous pursuits.
Prosecco and the surroundings
Treviso, a small jewel of the Venetian Renaissance, is a joy to behold, exhibiting a refined and classy charm. The iconic Piazza dei Signori which hosts festivals, concerts and markets at any time of the year tells the centenary history of the city. Passing under the imposing arches and leaving the square behind, you meander through the alleyways. A little further on, you’ll spot the Canale dei Buranelli, which offers picturesque views. One of the best ways to appreciate the centre of Treviso is to walk along the bank of the Sile river. On the left is Palazzo Giacomelli, with its exhibitions and cultural events, while a little further is the University Bridge. Cross any one of the canals and you’ll be met with interweaving narrow streets where you can hear the gossip and conversations of the Treviso people enjoying the local aperitif, an icy Aperol Spritz!