The Valpolicella area

Close your eyes, soak up the sun and explore the Valpolicella area to discover a wonderful land in northern Italy.

Location

The Valpolicella area with its beautiful landscape, green vineyards, charming sun-drenched churches and mysterious and silent villas has captivated and inspired Dante, Petrarch, Hemingway and many other writers. “This seems to be the valley of poets,” wrote Aleardo Aleardi about it.
The Valpolicella area, also called the “valley of many wine cellars”, is located in the Veneto region, south of the Alps. It is surrounded by the Lessini mountains nature park to the north and east, the Adige River to the west and the Po Valley to the south. It is about 15 kilometres from the most romantic city in the world: Verona, and about 20 kilometres from the largest lake in Europe: Lake Garda. Thanks to the climate mitigated by this large natural basin and the mountain ranges that surround it, the Valpolicella area has a cool temperate climate, protected from harsher weather conditions. It offers unique scenery that delights the eye and the heart.

Heritage and well-being

Several native grape varieties are grown in our valley: Corvina, Corvinone, Rondinella, Molinara and Spigamonte are just a few. It is not surprising that wine has been produced in this fertile terroir since ancient times: “The historian Titus Livius described how the Gauls, many centuries earlier, had crossed the Alps to descend to the valley, spurred on by the reputation of good food but, above all, by the wine: a new product, never tried before” (excerpt from the book Le pietre raccontano...in Valpolicella by Mareva De Frenza, Cierre edizioni) and: “Anneo Floro believed that the ferocious Cimbri, descended from the mountains, had lost all their vigour and energy because they were softened by the sweetness of the wine” (Ibid). It can rightly be said that wines such as Amarone and Recioto are delights for the palate. Once tasted, their aroma and flavour will be remembered forever. Renowned also in Roman times, when vitis Raetica was grown in the Valpolicella area, this land produced excellent wines that were appreciated by emperors such as Augustus and Tiberius. Thanks to the works of treatise writers of the time, we know that they were served at the beginning of a meal and often warmed, the forerunner of mulled wine!
“The popularity of Valpolicella wines continued into the late Roman period, when the historian Cassiodorus mentioned Acinaticus, a very sweet red raisin wine, of which a white version was also known.” (Ibid.)
Not only texts but also archaeological finds show evidence of wine production in Roman times: the elegant and evocative villas of the Valpolicella area never cease to amaze. From time to time, modern man discovers a few ancient relics: grape press counterweights, tanks, containers for collecting must, wine cellar floors, albs, as well as the remains of constructions that might have been heated, where grapes were probably dried and must fermented.

However, the quality of our wine is not just considered a peccatum gulae, it goes far beyond that. In fact, medical and scientific studies show that red wines contain many antioxidant and antiviral substances that are beneficial to the cardiovascular system and prevent heart diseases. The main one is resveratrol, which in Valpolicella wines such as Amarone and Recioto reaches average amounts of 6-10 mg/l (other red wines have 2-3 mg/l), due to the natural raisining of the grapes, with the resulting concentration of these substances.

But, once again, everything had already been written: in the year I A.D. Cornelius Celso, author of what is considered to be the first complete Latin treatise on medicine, De Medicina, suggested drinking warm Rhaetian wine as a remedy for poor health, female sterility in particular.

Valpolicella 360

This Mediterranean creeper known as the vine, takes root in the ground, absorbs all the special properties of the soil, which differs from valley to valley, and therefore results in wines with many nuances. After about 3 months of slow and natural raisining, the fruit allows the skilled hands of the vine-growers to create refined wines, rich in flavour and taste without neglecting elegance. In this atmosphere of natural wonders, the diligent work of farmers provides us not only with wine but also cherries, olive oil, persimmons, plums and fragrant apples from the Adige Valley.

In addition to the vine-growing and farming heritage, our valley also offers artistic and cultural attractions. Here, thanks to the joint work of man and nature, beautiful masterpieces have been created: Romanesque and medieval churches such as those of San Floriano (12th century), San Giorgio Ingannapoltron (13th century), Santa Maria Valverde (11th century, a temple dedicated to the goddess Minerva nearby); and ancient villas, including: Villa Pojega in Negrar, where in 1783 Count Rizzardi commissioned the project of the garden to the architect Luigi Trezza, one of the greatest exponents of neoclassical Veneto architecture; the 16th-century Villa Brenzoni Bassani in Sant'Ambrogio; Villa Giona dated late 15th century (now a hotel); the splendid 18th century Villa Mosconi Bertani; Villa della Torre at Fumane with a chapel by Sanmicheli; Villa Santa Sofia near Pedemonte, a masterpiece by Palladio.

Moreover, in terms of nature, the Valpolicella area is also famous for its marble, with its typical red colour and quarries that look like gashes of pain in the rolling hills. Not to mention the Lessinia Regional Nature Park: a real open-air museum not to be missed by visitors! In the park we can find the Ponte di Veja, a natural bridge with a red ammonite archway and white limestone supports of about 15 metres. It is the largest natural bridge in the world and has been present since prehistoric times. The Molina Waterfall Park is a cool natural oasis of crystal-clear water and rare botanical species. Then there is the Grotta di Fumane (Fumane cave), where traces of Neanderthal man were found.

As for food, it is worth mentioning the typical cuisine of this area with dishes such as boiled meat with peppery sauce, risotto with Amarone, risotto with ‘tastasal’ (pork mince), ‘pasta e fasoi’ (bean and pasta soup), polenta with salt cod, and bigoli with sardines.
Once visited, the Valpolicella area will remain in your hearts, we are sure.