The Veneto Region of Italy is a fascinating section of the country to visit packed tight with wine country, gorgeous cities and hamlets, and some stunning natural scenery. The area is the perfect destination for wine lovers, gourmets, and honeymooners as the region is romantic, picturesque, and some truly fabulous wines are produced here. The Veneto is a vast area that stretches from Lake Garda in the west, Venice and the Adriatic Sea to the east, and the ski resort of Cortina d’Ampezzo in the far north. There are seven provinces in greater Veneto – Belluno, Treviso, Venezia, Verona, Vicenza, Padova, and Rovigo. Principal rivers include the Adige and the Po, and there are smaller rivers such as the Brenta with its beautiful Villa studded banks.
Eastern Lake Garda
The eastern section of Lake Garda (the lake is over 51 km long, and the lake falls into three regions- Lombardy, Veneto, and Trentino Alto Adige!) is where Western Veneto begins. You will find charming wine country between the villages of Bardolino and Peschiera. Lugana and Bardolino are two excellent wine regions near Garda. Heading east, you arrive at the Roman city of Verona, with its preserved Arena (where an annual opera festival is held). North of Verona, clustered around villages such as Fumane and Negrar, lie the vineyards of Valpolicella where the world-famous Amarone wines are made. Continuing east, you will run into the wine region of Soave, with its beautiful castle. This pretty little hamlet is known for excellent white wines.
From Soave heading north, you have beautiful highlights like the elegant town of Vicenza (with its Palladian architecture and villas) and the darling town of Bassano del Grappa (atmospheric village famous for its grappa) and Asiago (well known for its Asiago cheese and its observatory). The Venetian Dolomites and the main town of Belluna are further north. Conegliano is located east of Asiago, and this is one of the principal wine villages of the Prosecco wine country. Asolo is a pretty village on the way from Asiago to Prosecco wine country, set in a fantastic mountain setting. Asolo is one of Italy’s most beautiful villages and attracts wealthy Venetians who flock there on the weekends. Treviso is nearby, a mini Venice with pretty canals and crisscrossed laneways.
The one and only Venice is directly south of Treviso and is one of the jewels of the Veneto with its lagoons, Grand Canal, and spectacular architecture. Padova (Padua) is west of Venice and is another town with a beautiful historic center and exciting wine country in its province, such as Colli Euganei. Abano Terme is close to the vineyard-covered hills of Colli Euganei and is a natural spa town with some lovely historic hotels. The southern part of Veneto is where you will find the main town of Rovigo with its Renaissance architecture and the Po Delta, known for its huge natural reserve and bird watching (and located close to lovely Ferrara in neighboring Emilia Romagna).
Appellations of the Veneto
The Veneto is jam-packed with vineyards and is home to a multitude of appellations including (DOCG) Bardolino Superiore, Recioto di Soave and Soave Superiore (both using the Garganega grape primarily), (DOC) Colli Euganei (making great Cabernet Franc and Merlot-based wines), Bianco di Custoza (refreshing white wine made by the Riviera del Garda), Bardolino (made on the eastern shore of Lake Garda, mainly light reds and robust rosés made with the Valpolicella trio of grapes- Corvina, Rondinella, Molinara, and also Negrara and Rossignola), Lugana (aromatic whites by such flagship cellars as Ca dei Frati, near the shores of Garda’s Sirmione), Prosecco di Conegliano-Valdobbiadene (Glamorous bubbles made in some beautiful Villa estates such as Villa Sandi, Prosecco is also the main ingredient in the famed Bellini cocktail), and of course Valpolicella (known for its superb Amarone and Recioto wines).
Other DOCs include Gambellara (historic wine region south of Vicenza making Garganega based Reciotos and Vin Santos, along with dry whites), Arcole (known for its sandy soils), Montello e Colli Asolani, Lison-Pramaggiore, Monti Lessini or Lessini (white, red and bubbly), Breganze (north of Vicenza), Merlara, Colli Berici (Tocai Rosso is an interesting local grape), Corti Benedettine del Padovano, Valdadige (confusingly this appellation is used by different regions and provinces- Verona in Veneto and Bolzano and Trento in Trentino-Alto Adige), Bagnoli di Sopra or Bagnoli, Riviera del Brenta, San Martino Della Battaglia, Colli di Conegliano, Garda, Vicenza and Vini del Piave (named after the Piave River).
IGTs include Alto Livenza, Colli Trevigiani, Conselvano, Delle Venezie, Trevigiana, Veronese, Vallagarina, Veneto, Veneto orientale and Vigneti delle Dolomiti.