Rolling green hills, cypress trees, winding roads, row after row of vines, sunflower fields, farmhouses, stone bridges, and over them all, churches and bell towers, with the occasional castle thrown in for good measure. That’s what we think of when we think of Italy.
That’s what we found back in August (yes, we’re slightly out of sequence, rewinding). We were in no hurry to get anywhere, our sole purpose was to get out of the apartment, and maybe find some lunch somewhere. We avoided the autostradas, and after a while we ignored our GPS too. We pottered our way through little villages, each one with a church and tall bell tower, each one with various bars and cafes and trattorias or osterias or pizzerias, and definitely a gelateria. And best of all? Tourists – other than us – virtually absent.
We found a castle with a café for a late lunch. The kitchen had closed, but some panini and beer and a macchiato were possible, from a friendly proprietor who was patient with my slow Italian. The views from the castle were wonderful, but even better were the views driving home.
A few days later we set out again, this time setting off further south, on the Prosecco route. Another castle beckoned for lunch, this one a much larger affair, now a hotel, with several restaurants and function rooms, a venue for major economic meetings. By the time we got there it was raining, so we took the funicular up to the castle, and immediately found the restaurant. For a while we were the only customers on this gloomy day at the end of summer, but we still received friendly service, delicious home-made bread (of which they were rightly proud), and enjoyed a Prosecco with our meal. The views, between the castellations, were of the small town at the bottom of the hill, and the farms and vineyards surrounding it. By the time we had finished lunch, the last spits of rain were abating, and the sun even deigned to make an appearance.
We headed south and west along this valley, towards Valdobbiadene, one of the famous names of Prosecco. The views were even better than the day before – rolling hills covered in vines, vines, vines everywhere. This was the heart of Prosecco country. The road was windy, but not busy, and we stopped frequently.
This was classic, picture perfect, fairytale Italy. And of course, there was a cute dog and a vespa.