Thursday, September 25, 2008

Italy Trip 2008 - Day 1 Arrival and the Veneto Foothills











Well I have kept my Italy trip each year streak alive with an impromptu but wonderful trip to Venice and Treviso to see the Panto Window Factory compliments of my good friends at Panto Windows.

We left early Monday morning and arrived Tuesday morning at the Marco Polo Airport in Venice. We were greeted by the California sales representative, Simon and his lovely wife Marcia, at the airport. We stopped for a quick cappuccino and an introduction of our fellow travelers on the tour. I was happy to see my old friend Tony Garcia on the trip. Tony and I worked together in the early 90's at CCBG Architects and he now has his own firm in San Diego, California.

We loaded on the bus to the Hotel Relais Monaco near Treviso, Italy. The hotel is an old Villa Veneta, Villa Guarnieri, distinctively converted by the famous architects Afra and Tobia Scarpa, located in Ponzano Veneto, close to Treviso, in the heart of the "Marca Trevigiana" and only 35 kms away from Venice. It is set in a beautiful vineyard.

We checked in and after flying for what seemed like 24 hours we grabbed a quick bite on the terrace of the hotel. Great way to start with a plate of spaghetti and insalata mista - the freshest greens, tomato and mozzarella. Perfect!

We quickly reloaded the bus for a quick jaunt to the foothills of the Alps and the Mionetto Winery. Founded in 1887 from the love and passion for work and for the land of Francesco Mionetta, the head of the family and the master winemaker. In 1982 the winery completely converted to the production of Prosecco - a semi-sparkling white wine - Italian champagne made popular in the Bellini cocktail. We were given a wonderful tour of the winery by the grandson of the founder. Of course the tour ended in the tasting room and after trying ALL of their lines of prosecco it was time to move on to our next destination.

After a short drive through the hills of the Valdobbiadene wine -growing region north of Treviso we arrived at the Castel Brando. After a short tram ride up the hill you are taken with the beautiful view and the over 2000 year history of the castle. The castle has been converted to a 260 room hotel and convention center but it still feels like an old castle. It is spectacular. After a quick walk around the grounds and a tasty cappuccino it was back down the tram and back on the bus and off to dinner - something you do a lot in Italy - eat!

We arrived at a wonderful country restaurant - which I cannot recall the name but will track it down - and enjoyed a fantastic dinner. We all sat upstairs and since we are a group of 29 we were served country style - but it was fabulous. Great first dinner. The restaurant had a marvelous indoor grille and rotisserie and we had roast rabbit, chicken, and pork along with several pasta dishes, mushroom risotto, salad, vegetables and of course a delicious fruit tart with a panna cotta sauce - topped off with a perfect cappuccino. By now we were exhausted. Back to the hotel and some needed sleep! Off to Venice tomorrow. Ciao.

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