Walking in the Prosecco Hills, Italy

Once upon a time, there was Champagne for those with money, and cava for the rest of us. Then up popped Prosecco, Italy’s very own sparkling wine, and caused quite the stir amongst the bubble-loving drinking public. This easy drinking fizz is produced in the Veneto region of northeast Italy, where the Prosecco Hills, swathed in vineyards and peppered with Palladian villas and pretty churches, are every bit as delicious, golden and agreeable as the wine they produce. Walking is perhaps the best way to discover this rolling landscape, tucked in below the Dolomites and less than an hour from Venice, and there are plenty of gentle trails winding through river valleys and sun kissed slopes, with lots of ancient villages to explore along the way. And, of course, you can always look forward to a refreshing glass at the end of each day.

What does walking in the Prosecco Hills entail?

Despite the huge popularity of Prosecco, the Prosecco Hills remain one of the finest but least recognised of Italy’s wine regions. Not many tourists make their way here and so a walking holiday reveals a blissfully unspoiled part of the country, via leisurely to moderate walks, wine tasting with local producers and cultural discovery. That’s the thing about walking holidays here – they have nothing to do with hardcore trekking, and everything to do with immersion in the gastronomy, culture and landscapes of the region.

Walking holidays in the Prosecco Hills tend to last a week and are run on a small group basis, with groups of no more than 16 people, plus a guide. There may also be additional local guides in places of interest, such as Treviso. You’ll be based in one place, transferred to the start of each walk in the morning and brought home at the end. This brings the advantage of being able to settle into your accommodation, unpacking just once on your trip, and by accommodation, we mean a comfortable and characterful hotel with a pool – none of your rough-and-ready mountain huts on this type of holiday.
Expect walks of between 7km and 12km each day (this translates to between three and five hours walking, including stops) with plenty of time to pause and admire views, take photos or tuck into a picnic. There is usually a free day, too, for relaxing by the hotel pool or exploring under your own steam.
As you walk, you’ll be able to explore the beautiful medieval villages you pass through, including Cison, Follina and Asolo and take time at regional highlights such as the Villa Barbaro in Maser, one of the greatest masterpieces by celebrated 16th century Italian architect Andrea Palladio, and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Some routes trace the original front lines from the First World War – this entire region lay on the Italian front and many villages around the Prosecco Hills were impacted by it.
You’ll be walking on a mix of terrain, from paved tracks to forest trails and dirt roads. The walking here is leisurely and unchallenging, with only the very occasional steep ascent, but so long as you have a reasonable level of fitness and enjoy being out in the fresh air, you’ll be fine.

Best time to go walking in the Prosecco Hills

Walking is best here from spring through to autumn; April to October. In spring, wildflowers are in bloom and the vineyards are fresh and green. In summer, you’ll see grapes swelling on the vine and in autumn, the leaves everywhere are turning as golden as a glass of Prosecco itself. September and October are the best times to come to see the grape harvest, still done by hand. Remember that this region can get really hot between June and September, with temperatures sometimes hitting 30°C, so come either side of those peak months if you prefer cooler walking conditions.

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Highlights of the Prosecco Hills

Mount Cesen

This modest mountain of 1,570m is more grassy hill than towering peak, but it does nevertheless manage to rise above the Prosecco Hills, and is the highest mount in the surrounding small group of Venetian Prealps. It provides superb panoramic views stretching as far as the Eastern Alps, Dolomites and Venice on a clear day. There are lovely walking trails here, which wind across mountain pastures and meadows – a very different landscape to the cultivated hills below.

Treviso

Often overshadowed by its neighbour Venice, and happily away from the crowds, Treviso is well worth a visit (and with Venice suffering from overtourism, it’s a more responsible alternative). Medieval city walls and waterways encircle the town, while the centre, restored after WWII bombing, is a rambling maze of cobbled streets lined with arcaded walkways – great if it’s raining – and dotted with frescoed churches.

Local food

As well as sipping Prosecco, walking here is a chance to sample the local food. Food in the Veneto is traditional and relies on seasonal, local produce. It’s hearty country cooking, with local veg, cheese, game and wild mushrooms much used ingredients. Steer towards small local restaurants to try homemade spiedo (spit roasted meat), wild mushroom risotto, gnocchi, cured meats and cheeses.
Written by Joanna Simmons
Photo credits: [Page banner: AGeremia] [Top box: theavoae] [Villa Barbaro : Andrea Palladio] [Treviso: Didier Descouens] [BANNER: AGeremia ]
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