Treviso - an alternative holiday destination to Venice?

The northern Italian town of Treviso in the province of Veneto, it is located close to Padua and Vicenza.  With a ancient wall surrounding the city centre, it features its own canals, and rivers overhung with greenery, plus frescoed facades and intriguing art. Just like Venice!  Food and wine take a lead role – not surprising given that the world’s favourite dessert, tiramisu, originated here. There are fabulous characterful osterias and the Prosecco hills are nearby; producing just famous Prosecco such as Conegliano-Valdobbiadene DOCG. Even though Treviso was 400 years part of the Venetian Republic, the town displays a strong personality of its own with its medieval relics. About 1200  facades in slightly faded colours feature in the city centre.

The visit always starts from Piazza dei Signori, the historic heart of the city - a meeting place for the people of Treviso. The Palazzo del Podestà, Palazzo dei Trecento and the Torre Civica coexist with bars, arcades, shops and historic workshops. In Treviso, land of stylists and big textile brands, we find them in the area that extends from Corso del Popolo to Calmaggiore. From here starts Calmaggiore, the most important commercial street in Treviso, with shops protected by porticoes. If Piazza dei Signori is the civil heart of Treviso, the Cathedral and the Church of San Nicolò are the religious one, together with the Santa Caterina Complex, now a museum.

Treviso is very much tied to its surrounding territory, or Marca, which includes the vine-covered hills of the Conegliano-Valdobbiadene Prosecco DOCG (Controlled and Guaranteed Designation of Origin) area, a Unesco World Heritage Site. Wineries offer tours and tastings and multiple events are held each spring for Primavera del Prosecco. Prosecco’s other DOCG area, Asolo, around the attractive historic town of the same name, overlaps with the small Montello wine area, whose forests were once the exclusive source of wood for boat-building in Venice.

While Montello DOCG wines are cabernet and merlot-based, the Giusti winery is also investing in a forgotten local grape, recantina, which makes seductively smooth, fruity red wines. Along with accommodation (see below) the winery has the striking ruins of an 11th-century abbey on its estate with an on-site wine bar (open Friday-Sunday).  

Back in Treviso, join the locals for an aperitivo – a daily ritual here – with a spritz, prosecco, or other local wine such as the still white Incrocio Manzoni. A popular place for a glass and mini-panino is Vecia Hostaria dai Naneti, a laid-back deli-style bar dating from 1896. Osteria Muscoli’s, one of many simple, long-standing wooden-tabled wine bars also serving meals, sits opposite the pretty, tree-lined Pescheria island, created in the 19th century to house the fish market. The panino al Prosecco is a classic snack here: bread soaked in prosecco and filled with mortadella, aioli and cheese.

Thanks to Treviso’s position, the cuisine offers a good balance of seafood, meat and vegetables. A prime product is the red-leaved radicchio trevigiano and risotto al radicchio is a regular on menus, while bigoli in salsa (thick spaghetti with anchovy and onion sauce) is the most typical pasta dish. Jars of the tasty sauce, together with preserved radicchio and countless other speciality foods, are on sale at the boutique-style Fermi by the Pescheria. But the city’s real claim to fame in terms of gastronomy is the tiramisu, which first appeared on a restaurant menu in 1972 at Le Beccherie and is celebrated each October with the Tiramisu World Cup competition for amateurs.

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