We decided to split our time in northern Italy. Two weeks in the tower (nervous as we were – rightly it seemed – about August heat), and two weeks over in the north-east. This was an area we drove through 22 years ago. Essentially, we went to Italy for a picnic, trying to avoid changing currency (impossibly, as it turned out, when we had to cross into Austria on a toll-way), and drove from Innsbruck to Villach, via the northern part of Italy. We had been enchanted by the views then, so when we knew there was an apartment available in the region, we decided to take it for the rest of August.
Our new home is at the base of the Dolomite foothills, in Vittorio Veneto. Driving into the town, down long leafy green avenues, we were encouraged. It was promising to find a lovely, spacious and modern apartment, with an efficient and helpful apartment owner, and everything we needed within easy walking distance, including parking next door at the back of the owner’s parents’ pasticceria (bakery). At last we were in an apartment without narrow staircases, low ceilings, dodgy internet, and which had sufficient air-conditioning. The view from our balcony – across the roof of a large building next to us – was one of hills, small farmhouses, the occasional vine, and trees. Lots and lots of green trees. A small church at the edge of the view made us smile.
We smiled some more when we ventured out. A bar, set in gardens overlooking the town’s main piazza and municipal buildings, served delicious prosecco and antipasto, as we watched families meet in the gardens, elderly men eat gelato and chat with friends, children play, and lovers love. This was our kind of town.
Elegant shops and banks and restaurants and gelaterias (lots of gelaterias) line the leafy streets. A walk later discovered a walking and cycle path along the river, past houses and apartments, a restaurant on an island in the river, sadly derelict factories, the local swimming pool, playgrounds; a busy, sunny, happy path filled with people on bicycles with places to go, or those strolling, walking off the prosecco from lunch (us), or walking their dogs. This town was getting better and better.
But all this was only a precursor to falling in love. We walked along the tree-lined street as directed by Arianna. Venetian mansions lined the street – who needs to go to Venice? (Even though it is only an hour away by train). And then we saw the entrance to the old part of town. A narrow cobbled street, with ancient houses and an open-sided walkway or loggia underneath. We arrived at Piazza Flaminio. Beautiful medieval buildings, a road through an archway, a gelateria with the best gelato so far in Italy, a trattoria (with mouthwatering roast pork in milk and an entertaining chef), a river/canal, a church and bell tower, and a retreat on the hill behind.
It’s official. I’m in love.Note: Photos to come.