Travelling along the Prosecco Road I discovered two treasures of hospitality and service, hidden amid the vineyards and the old villages of the Treviso. As one travels north from Venice, before the Alps and the Dolomites, the landscape becomes ever more picturesque. The rugged terrain has been carefully devoted to growing grapes, a special variety: Prosecco. This is not the only region of Italy where they produce the iconic bubbly white but this area excels above all others.
Villa Abbazia is an 18th-century manor that has been lovingly restored. The Venetian villa boasts a carefully kept garden. Villa Abbazia stands in the middle of the charming town of Follina. The rooms are carefully decorated and attention to detail is superb. But the wonderful hospitality almost caught me off guard.
Animated by my reaction to the wine, Giovanni told me the stories behind the food and the wine of the region. One story after another:
“Do you know, Signor Andrea, why tiramisu is tiramisu?”
“About the spritz, did you know that it was created here?”
Italy has a strong heritage when it comes to food. Processes are important, origins are treated with reverence. Traditions concerning food and wine stretch back centuries and have been honed slowly by careful repetition, prudent innovation, and love for a way of life attached to the earth. This is the exact opposite of supermarket food. Italian cuisine needs character, history, an anecdote… Adhering to this philosophy, La Corte, Villa Abbazia’s main restaurant, has been granted a Michelin star.
Carlo is Giovanni’s son. He finds delight in hospitality. He rushed out to bring our luggage, he served us drinks and he knew every detail behind each and every one of their dishes. He will even drive you to the airport. Though I find it astonishing, he believes it is only natural for the best Italian property. The Zenons they welcome you with open arms and sit down to eat breakfast with you. They are committed to a life of hospitality.
I went cycling with Giovanni along the Prosecco route. The day is gorgeous and the air carries the aroma of must. Harvest is next week. Giovanni is happy to be out, riding with his guests. He looks very proud of his Pinarello.
“These are the most important things,” he said, “to have a prosperous life: Prosecco, Pinarello, Pizza and Pasta, the 4 Ps.”
We cycled up and down the hills without a tourist in sight. We ventured through small and empty roads that are imbibed with the beauty of the surroundings. We stopped by a farm cantina, a cellar. It was built in the 1600s and the Prosecco within has a distinctive character: dry and brute. We kept riding along the winding roads and made our way back a little sweaty, a little tipsy, but exultant.
The second property I discovered along the Prosecco Road is Relais d’Arfanta. Immersed in the green fields, with unobstructed views of Valdobbiadene, it is a delightful place to explore the vicinity. The Relais is decorated with simplicity but with attention to detail and Italian craftsmanship. The swimming pool is the ideal place to relax and enjoy the magnificent views while sipping Prosecco.
Relais d’Arfanta is run by Rosa, Giovanni’s wife. She encourages guests to go out and discover the culinary wonders of Treviso. For that reason, the property does not have a restaurant. However, they do serve breakfast and lunch. The Relais is ideally located to explore the region hiking or cycling.