A Taste of History: Exploring Soave

Wine cellars. Villas. Churches. History. Traditions. Unique flavors. Magnificent landscapes.

Welcome to the land of Soave, which can be experienced by following an itinerary of about 31 miles, winding around farms, wine estates, restaurants and historical attractions that lead to the medieval town from which the area takes its name.

Soave once was a Roman outpost, as can be seen from the existing street plan and surrounding land division. An inkling of the important presence of art and history is provided not only by the structure of the walls, but by the whole urban layout, which preserves the 13th-century Venetian-Gothic Palazzo Cavalli and, facing it, the church of San Lorenzo, founded in the 14th century and rebuilt in the 18th.

Also worthy of note are the Court of Justice, still the seat of the local magistracy, and the Palazzo Scaligero, once the seat of the Verona governors. Now, restored, it serves as the Town Hall.

Once over the bridge crossing the Tramigna torrent, the route heads westward among the vineyards, along the provincial road S.P. 37. In the hamlet of Saint Vittore, an imposing parish church is notable for its elegant and long bell tower.

From there, a scenic road leads to Colognola ai Colli, a delightful center perched on a hill at the entrance to the Illasy Valley.

Leaving behind the inhabited area and reaching Decima, the Val d’Illasi provincial road proceeds toward Pieve di Colognola ai Colli, home of the romantic church of Santa Maria. From there, through Ca’ dell’Ara, one reaches Quattro Strade, and then it’s on to Mezzane Di Sotto, a small town immersed in a magnificent green valley.

A slight deviation leads to Tregnago and its castle, which dominates the hill overlooking the town. It dates to the early Middle Ages, and was rebuilt by the de la Scala family, but all that remains today are the towers and parts of the walls.

Proceeding northward, one reaches the town of Giazza, the cradle of the Cimbrian culture of Verona, with its museum dedicated to those people from northern Europe.

At this point, the “Soave Route” bends toward Illasi, and an ancient manor made up of old villas. In the center stands the Perez-Pompei-Sagramoso Villa, once the seat of the government. Its huge park extends to the top of the hill, where the ruins of the de la Scala castle can be found.

At Illasi the Town Hall and the parish church, both elegant buildings, look out on an ample square that leads to an evocative avenue of cypresses and continues to the small town called Monte. This road, which overlooks the Illasi valley, is more like a garden, dotted with century-old olive groves interspersed with vineyards and cherry tree groves.

The view from the summit of the hill sweeps over the valleys of Illasi and Tramigna, and in the distance the castle of Soave can be seen, along with the Benci mountains and the top of the Euganean Hills.

The Route then proceeds toward Cazzano di Tramigna, providing awe-inspiring glimpses of the “Valley of the Cherry Trees,” magnificent during their annual flowering period.

Half-way along the coast, it’s a good idea to turn right, toward S. Colombano, where a small church dating from the 12th century stands, surrounded by greenery.
This is where the road narrows, then continues downward among the vineyards to Costeggiola.

From here, one can go up to Castelcerino, a village from which it’s possible to descend along attractive little roads toward Montecchia di Crosara. From Fitta, for example, the “Castellaro Road” goes to Brognoligo, part of Monteforte d’Alpone. Along the way, one may admire some of the most famous Soave wine estates, including Monte Pressoni, Monte Foscarino, Castellaro, Rugate and Ronchetto.

The road goes from Brognoligo to Costalunga, and then runs once more up to the Valley of Alpone, as far as Montecchia di Crosara — a grape-growing area of great importance in the heart of Valle d’Alpone.

The road then bends toward Ronca and Terrossa, both centers of Cimbrian culture. Traveling northward leads to S. Giovanni Ilarione, at the foot of the Lessinia, an excellent starting point for getting to the Parco Regionale, passing through Vestenanove and Bolca to Campofontana.

Bolca is one of the most important centers of Lessinia, and its museum, which exhibits fossils from more than 50 million years ago, attracts thousands of visitors and scholars from all over the world every year.

The next stop is Monteforte d’Alpone, where an imposing parochial church, Santa Maria Maggiore, stands out. Just a few steps from the church, and worthy of a visit, is the 15th-century Archbishop’s Palace, erected in 1453-71 by the bishop of Verona. Monteforte was a fortified town in Roman times, and in the 10th century a castle was built there. On its ruins, the small church of S. Antonio Abate, visible on the overhanging hill, was constructed.

The “Soave Route” then reaches the church of the Madonnina, which overlooks the town of Monteforte, and returns to Soave. All along the way, wineries and restaurants, some operated by the same families for generations, beckon the visitor to stop for a refreshing glass of Soave wine and a home-style meal.

• To learn more about the Soave zone, click here.

Posted in Our Wine Travel Log
Members-only Wine sampler specials delivered straight to your inbox via our Cyber Circle newsletter.

%d bloggers like this: