Nothing says luxury like a bottle of bubbly or a trip to Italy. Double down and journey to prosecco wine country, a region that mainstream tourists have yet to find, even though they have a penchant for its sparkling sips. Prosecco is found in the countryside about an hour north of Venice. We recommend renting a car for a few days to explore a collection of vineyards and towns. If your time is limited, use Venice as your base and take the train to travel to a couple of Veneto provinces with great pours. (Purchase a Eurail pass from Rail Europe so you can hit multiple destinations.) But even beyond bubbly, prosecco wine country is replete with history, art and authentic Italian fare.
Begin your journey in one of the most magnificent cities in the province. Despite the crowds, Venice is still one of the most romantic places in the world. Rather than taking a pricey (and touristy) gondola ride down the canals, make a reservation at De Pisis Restaurant or book a canal-facing room at Hotel Saturnia, a charming boutique property that offers incredible views. Serenading gondoliers will float by while you enjoy an aperitif from the sidelines. A visit to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection is a must as well. Save the money you’d spend on souvenirs and splurge instead on a personalized Flytographer shoot. We’re not sure if your personal photographer can meet you at the Venissa Wine Resort on the island of Mazzorbo, but even if he can’t, having a sip of the only wine made from the native Dorona di Venezia grape makes the 30-minute ferry ride more than worth it.
Italian art and history
You may not expect a region whose focus is on wine production to have so much history, but it does. The province of Padua is home to the Scrovegni Chapel, a UNESCO World Heritage Site as awe inspiring as the Sistine Chapel. Giotto’s frescoes in the chapel are masterful and should be on every art enthusiast’s bucket list. Vicenza, a town designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is also a must-see for travelers. Designed by famed architect Andrea Palladio, its unique architecture features classical Roman influences. Be sure to wander through the Piazza dei Signori to view the town’s most impressive landmarks: Basilica Palladiana and the Torre di Piazza. For breathtaking views of the city and a great spot for an aperitif, head to La Terrazzo di Vicenza. And no trip to the region is complete without a stop in Possagno to see the birthplace and museum of Antonio Canova, who was once considered the finest sculptor in the world. This museum showcases nearly all the artist’s plaster cast models.
Be it an osteria (where local specialties such as pasta, grilled meat and wine are often served at shared tables) or a world-renowned restaurant, this region serves traditional Italian cuisine (risotto), innovative fare and countless flavors in between. Head to Vicenza’s Spinechile, home of noted chef Corrado Fasolato, for a culinary adventure and inventive tasting menu. Over in Oderzo you’ll find Gellius, a restaurant preparing modern Italian dishes in a unique setting. During construction of the restaurant, Roman and Byzantine archeological ruins were unearthed; the dining room is now set amid the remains so you can admire them as you feast on carpaccio or crispy lobster. If you’re looking for a traditional osteria where you’ll find all the locals, head to Treviso’s Dai Naneti to sample local cheese, charcuterie and sandwiches made to order.
Don’t let the quaint surroundings fool you — the boutique hotels and B&Bs know how to spoil with landscapes and lavishness. Asolo’s Hotel Villa Cipriani, famous for its mountainous views and vivacious garden, was once home to poets Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning. If you want to stay on a vineyard, the Borgoluce estate offers charming yet sophisticated accommodations, a castle, meadows and some of the region’s finest vines. There’s even a bioorganic swimming pool for guests filled with plants that purify the water without chemicals. Vincenza’s Hotel Villa Michelangelo is another attractive spot where rooms overlook an olive tree grove and a lush valley. You can get some sun by the pool while enjoying the serenity of the countryside.
Prosecco is the main attraction, and whether you choose brut, dry or extra dry, the best part of your tasting experience comes from savoring the sparkler from each vineyard. We recommend visiting some of the area’s family-owned vineyards that have wonderful museums with exhibits that take you through the property’s history and wine-making process. For example, the Zonin 1821 estate features a museum that showcases the vineyard’s past and discusses the art of prosecco. Its one-of-a-kind vino-themed stamp collection is another treat. Be sure to also swing by the tasting room where sommelier extraordinaire Gabriele takes your palate on a journey through all of the wines Zonin produces throughout the world, including a well-balanced and aromatic prosecco with hints of wisteria flowers and rennet apples.
You don’t want to miss a trip to the aforementioned Borgoluce estate, where a commitment to environmental sustainability reigns supreme. Do your tasting at Frasca Borgoluce, the estate’s version of a farm shop, where you can have an aperitif and nibble on farm-fresh snacks like buffalo milk cheeses, charcuterie and galette (a flat round cake made from corn). Lastly, if you could make your way over to Villa Marcello, nestled in the Veneto Prealps, you’ll be rewarded with a museum dedicated to prosecco’s evolution and a prosecco Millesimato brut that boasts an uncommon texture of fine bubbles and a balanced finish.