Vines and Hilltowns of the Veneto

Vines and Hilltowns of the Veneto

Sunday, May 26, 2013 
Veneto Province, Italy

Interested in a Music and Markets Tour? We’d love to hear from you!  Join us on a summer tour in Provence, or in Amsterdam/Belgium

“The young grapes look to the sky, the old grapes look to the earth”- just one of the pithy truths we hear from Giorgio as he guides us through his vineyard on this sunny May day. Does this red- sweatered vintner look familiar? He’s the one who designed and hosted the Veneto trip on which we were invited following the Zagreb Wine Tourism conference. Of all the vineyards we visited, his, called Salvan, was the one we enjoyed the most, largely due to Giorgio and his warm and friendly family, and we’re happy to share it with our Music and Markets guests today.

Giorgio shows us how the flower is actually INSIDE each tiny grape, and self-fertilizing, rather than an exterior, pre-fruit flower fertilized by bees,

before walking us to the Cantina and tasting room.

Francesca and her mother are gracious hostesses, pouring a sample of whites and rosés,

filling the table with tasty morsels of cured meats and several glasses each,
then Giorgio decants and pours the reds, including the Riservas, produced only in years with an exceptional harvest, and, at our request, the wines produced with grapestock from Georgia, the “DNA” of wine that we learned about on our previous visit.

A toast to Salvan wines and Giorgio and family! We’re so appreciative of the time they’ve taken with us, on this Cantine Aperte (open vineyard) 2013 day.
We’re on our way to lunch in the hills, but Francesca doesn’t let us leave until we have a sampling of seafood from the Chioggia (a fisherman’s island near Venice) food truck – yum! Salvan is set up for a long fun day, with donkey rides for the kids, and tastings and tours for all.

Then into the hills we go, to the walled town of Monselice, for a delicious meal at La Torre.

The proud owner shows us the garden fresh vegetables available today, and we feast on their specialty of fried shaved white asparagus to start. Each dish, from slender ribbons of pasta with ricotta and lemon, to ossobucco, to tiny strawberries, is marvelous, leaving us ready for an uphill walk to explore the pretty village.

A lion guards Cini Castle,

and we keep walking uphill to the church, from where there are seven stations of the cross climbing further up the hill. That will have to wait for another trip – we need to get back to Padova to pack up for tomorrow’s departure before the final concert in Este this evening.

We get to Este in time to fit in a light supper at Oste Scuro – a smoked goose pizza!
Another goodbye treat – a gorgeous sunset as we walk to the concert. Grazie!

The Auryn Quartet delights us with a final evening of music, and we say a fond Arrivederci to this beautiful part of the world – it’s been a great Music and Markets week!


Au Revoir France,  Hello Italy!

Au Revoir France, Hello Italy!

Sunday, May 19, 2013 
Inland from Venice

Interested in a Music and Markets Tour? We’d love to hear from you!  Join us on a summer tour on the Amalfi Coast, in Provence, or in Amsterdam/Belgium

As we fly from Marseilles to Venice, we’re talking over the week in France – what fun it was to share such gorgeous places, delicious meals, interesting people and unforgettable experiences with Steve!
And now we have another tour week to anticipate, with a few days in between, during which we have a list of things to do to get ready.

Today we’ll do a dry run of the drives from our Padova hotel for two daytrips – one in the morning, and one in the afternoon, before heading for Venice tomorrow.
When we pull into the walled village of Monselice, we’re delighted to find it decked with floral displays – it’s an annual festival of flowers!  From shops and stately homes,

to the stairway of the tourist office,

to simple bridges over canals, the whole place is a fragrant garden.

The “ghost of Monselice castle” welcomes us and asks where we’re from and why we’re here. We want to know why HE is here!

Teams comprised of young and old carefully place petals and flowers along the streets,

forming a carpet down the center of the cobble- stones.

Next stop, Este, where we find a good café that will be able to serve an early (7:00 is VERY early in Italy) dinner for us before the Auryn Quartet concerts next week. We relax with a Spritz on the main square, then do a quick run through east of here along the Brenta Canal, figuring out the quirks of the route from one villa to another for next Saturday’s daytrip.

Check out this dinner – a common choice on Venetian menus, squid (in its own ink) with polenta. It tasted much better than it looks!

La Rocca on the Mount – Monselice

La Rocca on the Mount – Monselice

Sunday, July 22, 2012
Interested in a Music and Markets Tour? We’d love to hear from you!  Join us on our featured (and expanded!) summer Amsterdam/Belgium tour!

A Sunday drive in the country today, north to Padova, west of Venice.We take the long way out of Tuscany, driving up through the mountains towards Bologna before getting on the expressway for the rest of our journey.
Why Padova? Although it’s an interesting city in itself (we spent a winter week there a few years ago) the reason we’re stopping there today is to explore the nearby villages of Monselice and Este, since we’re planning a tour based around the Este Chamber Music Festival next spring.
Monselice’s easily identifiable as we approach – a natural citadel on the southern slopes of the Euganean Hills (which, by the way, are dotted with thermal waters and hot mud – we’ll have to try out a spa or two someday!) La Rocca crowns the pointy hill, and the walled city huddles beneath.The row of white chapels leading up the hill are a few of Scarmozzi’s Via Sacra delle Siete Chiese, seven chapels built in the early 1600’s.

The church of San Paolo, now an exhibition center is on the left and the Tourist Information office, with a graceful loggia, is on the right  of the lane leading to the Castello Monselice.

San Paolo church is the fourth on this site, and the ruins below shelter an ancient fresco of Saint Francis of Assisi, as well as a friendly cat.

A partially salvaged fresco shows the town patron, Saint Sabino, with Saint Catherine.

Ca’Marcello, a beautifully restored medieval palace, is part of the walled Castello Monselice, and can be visited on a guided tour. Just down the lane is Villa Nanni, a splendid Renaissance mansion and gardens.

Next stop – Este… to be continued.