Thursday, April 29, 2010

Views and a Visit to San Giorgo and Sant’Ambrogio di Valpolicella wine country

Taking refuge in a soothing and green environment with splendid views, somewhere perhaps on a mountain top overlooking the vineyard valleys and the lake, was the finishing holiday therapy we needed to bring this Italian getaway to a close. And true enough, I found this little town in Sant’Ambrogio di Valpolicella called San Giorgio di Valpolicella sitting on a hilltop that bids only breathtaking views as far as Lake Garda.

So after a relaxing lunch in Sirmione we drove to Valpolicella, one of the notable vineyard regions in northern Italy, just 15 minutes away from Verona. You might not be aware of this but the Veneto region has contributed to the world of wine pleasures through its dry and sparkling easy-on-the-pocket rival of champagne, Prosecco. I would have loved to stay in Treviso where the Prosecco town is located but since we were flying out in Verona, we chose a nearby alternative, the Valpolicella wine country.

San Giorgio di Valpolicella

This is the mountain top village in Valpolicella where we stayed the night over.

San Giorgio di Valpolicella, a little hilltop village in Sant'Ambrogio di Valpolicella in the Veneto region. The locals call San Giorgio - 'Ingannapoltron' which means this place is not fit for the sluggish types because reaching the mountain top would entail climbing the steep and winding roads (if you are hiking).

Great views here as you can see.

The barbaric Romanesque Parish Church in San Giorgio di Valpolicella dating back to the end of the 12th century. 

The archaelogical ruins beside the church believed to be around the 4th century BC.

More beautiful views of the wine country from the top of the village.

We followed a snaky ride up to the mountain top and when we reached the small plaza we saw cars and people wandering about. Why, even here the throng of tourists is following us! We quickly found out that they were locals out for a walk and enjoying the beautiful panoramas from the mountain top as explained to us by the chef, the son of owner of the restaurant we had dinner that night in Sant’Ambrogio. It’s Easter Monday so people are out.

We walked around San Giorgio and had coffee in the neighborhood cafeteria. Outside the cafeteria was a riot, the locals were singing, cajoling each other and laughing the whole time, the whole atmosphere of little town San Giorgio was very cheery indeed and carefree.

We paid €4.20 for a double espresso, a capuccino and 2 biscuits that looked like donuts. Quite cheap here, and I hope it stays this way.

Valpolicella (Amarone della Valpolicella and Recioto della Valpolicella in the picture) is one of the renowned wine of the Veneto region.

The little village center (plaza) of San Giorgio di Valpolicella with locals singing and having fun.

Sant’Ambrogio di Valpolicella

Then we went down the mountain and drove around Sant’Ambrogio while admiring the scenic views expand before us. We were quite early for the vineyards and we can only see the trellises lined neatly down the valley and in some areas we sighted almonds. Very pretty!

We chilled out in this café terrace on the main road of Sant’Ambrogio while sipping on a cold Lugano. We were probably the only foreigners in town. Everyone was local or Italian who is visiting and they seem to know each other pretty well which is quite nice to observe how they interact with each other. I love going local, it gives you a glimpse of other people’s cultures and customs which adds substance to traveling.

Going down the winding road to the plateau we passed by this Almong plantation.

The church of Sant Ambrogio di Valpolicella in the main village.

The cafe terrace, Petra Antica where we enjoyed our cold pre-dinner glass of Lugano wine.

Dinner was at Al Cavolo Ristorante Enoteca, which is a pleasant formal dining place in the village. We had some spritz to start as aperitifs!

I was not able to take pictures of the lovely dishes we had, only our dessert: different types of local cheese with jams. Multo buono!

After dinner, we stayed the night over in San Giorgio in a traditional house that runs a trattoria and a bed and breakfast. The owner was very friendly; he woke up early the next day to fix us breakfast.

While stepping inside the car and driving down the winding road en-route to the airport, we took our last peek at the amazing views and bid our goodbyes to beautiful Italy. We wished we could stay longer but I got work waiting for me in Amsterdam.

Travel Period: April 2010
Destination: Sant'Ambrogio di Valpolicella (Veneto), Italy

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