The glory of taking wine tours in Italy is the opportunity to discover more than just the country’s excellent wines but also its beautiful scenery, fascinating cities and delicious culinary traditions. |
Take a leisurely trip through the waterways of Venice and inland to Mantua on a barge and you will have all the time in the world to explore the stunning countryside and beautiful vineyards of the region.
Here’s our guide to the top sights to look out for on a cruise from Venice to Mantua.
St Mark’s Square, Venice
The iconic heart of the lagoon city of Venice is the bustling, beautiful Piazza St Marco. Flanked on one side by St Mark’s Basilica and surrounded by a galleried arcade of shops and elegant cafés on the other three sides, it is one of the most popular sights in the city and the perfect place to stop for an espresso or glass of local wine. From here it is a short stroll to the Grand Canal or, if you want to shop, to the Rialto with its high-end boutiques.
The Island of Mazzorbo
Wine tours often bypass the islands around Venice, but the island of Mazzorbo is actually the viniculture centre of the area. Located a short distance from Burano (the two islands are connected by a wooden bridge), Mazzorbo may not attract the same number of visitors as its famous neighbour, but this makes it a hidden gem for oenologists to discover.
Visit the wine estate of Venissa, set within the confines of a pretty medieval walled vineyard on the island, and you will sample some of the best wines of the region.
The Fish Market at Chioggia
Historically an important harbour for fishermen where locals and those from far and wide came to trade their catch, today Chioggia fish market is an international wholesale market well worth a visit. The colourful, bustling stalls sell a variety of local seafood including everything from anchovies and sea-bass to the local speciality crustaceans, sea cicadas.
This romantic eighteenth-century villa in Taglio di Po is said to be the inspiration for some of Lord Byron’s greatest poetry when he visited his lover Teresa Gamba here. Teresa was the young wife of the villa’s owner Alexander Guiccioli, who had sent her there to get her away from Venice and Byron. Not to be put off, Byron followed her and reportedly wrote poetry on the first floor balcony during his stay.
Today guests will receive almost as warm a welcome from the current owners, who run the villa as a private restaurant and guesthouse.
The Medieval Town of Soave
Wine tours of this region would not be complete without a visit to Soave, the home of Italy’s famous dry white, produced from the garganega grape which is grown in the local vineyards.
There are mentions of the castle of Soave dating back to as early as 934, although the remains you will find in the pretty medieval town today are from when it was rebuilt in 1379 by the Scaliger family.
Well known as the centre of a region famous for its dry whites, Soave itself is a fascinating place to visit and a great place to pick up some of the local produce to take home.
Italian wine tours offer visitors the chance to not only taste the exceptional wines of the region but also to experience and understand the culture and history of the country which produces it. So it’s well worth taking a barge cruise, the slow, laidback pace of which creates the perfect environment to really connect with the country itself.
Paul Newman is the Marketing and E-Systems Executive for European Waterways, the UK's most respected provider of all-inclusive, luxury barge holidays. Offering holidays to France and other great destinations, itineraries include wine tours and other cultural and themed activities. Part of a team of experienced barging aficionados, Paul is first in line to endorse the perks of a slow-paced barge cruise to anyone looking for a unique holiday experience.
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