Latteria Perenzin

From Pieve di Soligo, birthplace and home of Andrea Zanzotto, a leading light of Italian poetry, to the gates of Valdobbiadene: a land of vineyards, small silk mills and shops dealing in furnishing fabrics, where the lively Prosecco also plays its part, inspiring artists and writers.

“The hills around Farra can still take my breath away, especially in the early morning, with the dew still on the ground”. Andrea Zanzotto, one of the great exponents of contemporary Italian poetry, has always eulogized his home environs in prose and verse, and never wanted to move away. Born 80 years ago in Pieve di Soligo, he still lives there despite his long-standing and openly critical views on the unbridled industrial and building development of the late twentieth century. “It has not all been lost, thankfully”, he says. “There are still a few spots that continue to remind me of paintings by Giorgione and Cima da Conegliano”. The lakes of Revine, for example, whose waters mirror “the reflections of an unchanged landscape”. Or the groundwater falls between Vidor and Moriamo della Battaglia, “salons of green bathed by myriad watercourses”. These places, referred to by the poet as “scattered reminders in a pervasive cementification”, would be enough to bring pleasure on a trip through the Quartier del Piave, that theatre of memorable battles, tucked between the heights of the Treviso Pre-Alps and the silvery course of the famous river. But besides the landscape, this is an area that offers great wines and fine cuisine, rural traditions and art treasures. Zanzotto’s own home town of Pieve di Soligo, with its renaissance historic centre, is the ideal starting point for an itinerary of both gastronomic and local craft interest, visiting prestigious wineries and the small but exclusive restaurants of the Alta Marca Trevigiana. It is through this same hill country that the middle part of the Strada del Prosecco winds its way, from Conegliano to Valdobbiadene. And these generous soils also yield the excellent Colli di Conegliano (red and white), the rare Marzemino, a raisin wine, or the more popular Verdino. The cuisine is seasonal in most of the restaurants, with mushrooms in autumn and self-seeding herbs in spring, and features a number of products typical to the area, notably Sopressa sausage, Malga cheeses, and red Treviso lettuce. But the Quartier del Piave is also famous for game and selections of spit-roast meats, which have their maximum expression in the giant community spit roast prepared every year at Pieve di Soligo in October.

Just a few kilometres from Pieve is Farra di Soligo, which boasts one of the most refined and elegant hotels in the area, the Hotel Villa Soligo, occupying a neoclassical mansion set in extensive parkland. Up on the hill behind the hotel is the Hermitage of San Gallo and, amongst the vines grown by the estate of the same name, the Casa Rossa restaurant, noted for its excellent grilled meat. The origins of Farra are lost in the mists of time, as evident from the Bronze Age remains found there, and from its Lombardic place-name. Also traceable to Lombardic times are the ruins of the Torri di Credazzo, overlooking the hamlet of Col San Martino, well-known to gourmets for its Locanda da Condo, a standard bearer of the local restaurant tradition. The route now leads upward through the chestnut woods of Combai, an ancient village of stone houses, down again toward Campea, and up once more to Premaor, where Giovanni Gregoletto, of the Gregoletto vine-growing family, makes wine and invents much more besides, under the Vallis Marena Pulchra brand: for instance? The “cooper’s cape”, a full cloak selling like hotcakes, prints of vines taken from an old ampélographie, and a CD eloquently titled “Musica del Vino”. Down again to Soligo to visit the church of S. Maria dei Caminesi, with frescoes dating from the 14th century, and Solighetto, where the 18th century Villa Brandolini houses a local history museum with a section dedicated to the soprano Toti Del Monte, who loved to spend her time in the area. For shoppers, two places of note on the road to Follina: Seta Veneta for silk scarves, fabrics and remnants; Cesca for table and bed linen, and towels made to measure from materials with original patterns. From Follina the route winds up again into the hills. Refrontolo is Marzemino country. Unlike the Trentino red of the same name, this is a raisin wine, a vino da meditazione: in late autumn, the grapes can be seen drying in the loft of the farmhouse on the Astoria estate. The road continues toward San Pietro di Feletto, where the countryside is of unparalleled beauty. Comprising five main communities in  amongst the rows of vines (Rua, Bagnolo, San Pietro, San Michele and Santa Maria), the area boasts a number of notable art treasures, like the town hall at Rua, housed in an old Camaldolensian hermitage, and the Mediaeval parish church of San Pietro, known for its fresco depicting the Sunday Christ. For epicurean shoppers, grappa by Beniamino Maschio can be purchased direct from the producer, and tasty organic goat’s milk cheeses from Perenzin (among the delicacies, goat robiola and ricotta, and formajo ciock, a cheese soaked in grape must). Notable among the many wineries here are Giuliano Bazzo, producer of Prosecco and Merlot, and bottler of Prosecco-Vino dei poeti, with labels by Giulio Turcato; this is a wine designed by Club Verdurin, a coterie of intellectuals united by a common love for the Marca Trevigiana, who gather at the nearby Casa Flaminio. The bed & breakfast establishment of Lia and Flaminio De Martin has long been a meeting place and buen retiro for poets and artists; famous guests over the years, along with Andrea Zanzotto, have included Alberto Moravia and Mario Luzi, Federico Fellini and Mario Soldati, Elio Bartolini and Carlo Bo. The rooms are decorated with frescoes by painters who happen also to be friends of the family. Not far away, Italian Equestrian Endurance champion Piero Spinazzè runs a riding club, the Ca' Borg (tel. 0438/784338), with his wife Anna. Here, anyone wanting to discover the Prosecco hills on horseback will find the ideal tour guide.