Our journey to Soave at the foot of the Monti Lessini mountains left us in no doubt at all that once again on this trip we were entering ‘wine country’, our taste buds on high alert anticipating the tastings to come! Vineyard after vineyard went by as we drove through the countryside towards the town famed for its crisp, fresh and celebrated white wines. The charismatic little town with a big reputation captured our affections the moment we arrived, driving past the Castello walls on our way to the aire which is perfectly situated just alongside. Parking up and settling in we immediately felt at home and needing a few supplies left the motorhome locked up and walked along the Tremigna river, through the medieval gate, Porta Aquila on the northern side of the wall and into the heart of the town.
A warm sense of community emanated from roadside cafes and bars and stopping in the supermarket for some essentials we could tell straight away that this is a place where everyone knows everyone. A general buzz, chatter and laughter spread out from shops and street corners with friends and neighbours stopping to chat and catch up on the latest news. Soave is certainly a sociable little place and in the central car park preparations were underway for the grape festival, a fantastic celebratory occasion with a carnival feel and programme of events and tastings, which sadly we were a few days too early for. The event has been held yearly since 1929 and was the first of its kind in Italy being so popular and successful that it is now copied throughout the country’s wine producing regions.
As it was late in the day, armed with our shopping we returned to Buzz and set about relaxing for the evening with a tasty outdoor dinner on our Cobb BBQ ready to explore further the next day. We woke up to a shining sun and blue sky, just what we were hoping for, and after breakfast we unloaded the bikes and cycled off for a good ride around the area. We’d read about a very good winery called Rocca Sveva and turning a corner we happened to see it right in front of us. Deciding to go in and make a reservation for later in the day we went in only to find that they were fully booked for the next 3 days due to the grape festival and other events they were running. That is the one downside we have found of going with the flow and not planning ahead – it’s not always possible to do the things we would like to do, or we end up missing events we would have liked to attend, so maybe a little bit of forward planning now and again wouldn’t be such a bad thing. Seeing the disappointment on our faces and feeling sorry for us they very kindly offered us a tasting at the shop counter instead and we managed to try six different wines at 11 in the morning leaving us slightly wobbly for the cycle ride back to Buzz! We left with smiles on our faces and 3 bottles of our favourites – the Soave Classico, Soave Classico Superiore made with 100% Garganega grapes and the sparkling Settecento made with 100% Durella.
A relaxed lunch later it was time to scale the heights of the town and climb the cobbled and steep hill from Piazza dell’Antenna up to the historic Soave Castle taking care not to step on the already squashed figs dropped from the trees growing in the gardens either side. Originating in the 10th century with its fully intact medieval walls which slope down from the top of the hill, totally enclosing the town this attractive site has undergone various restorations and now acts as a venue for medieval pageants and cultural events. At the main entrance there remains an ancient drawbridge with imposing tower, the original last point of defence and along the perimeter there are 24 well preserved crenellated towers. Our walk took us past vineyards laden with grapes, pomegranate trees and ancient olive groves with some lovely views along the way but unfortunately nothing was within picking range!
Soave is a small town with a big personality and only around half an hour’s drive from Verona. There seemed to be very few tourists and the motorhome aire was large and spacious so if you’re passing through the area make a detour and visit – you’ll love it!