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November 9, 2011 / TAB

Veneto- Vittorio Veneto

With leaden skies, rain drops, and falling leaves, Vittorio Veneto is slow to give up her beauty secrets.   I arrived just as the weather had begun to change into definitely Fall. It was bound to happen sometime on my trip and it was already November.

Vittorio Veneto started as two ancient settlements, Serravalle and Ceneda, and are now joined by the more modern “centro”. From my base in “centro”, it was a quick walk, less than 1 km in either direction to reach the old towns. My host picked me up in the nearby town of Conegliano and drove me through both parts of the combined Vittorio Veneto before settling into my comfortable apartment. Conegliano has more frequent train connections to Mestre and Milan but there are trains directly into Vittorio Veneto.

Serravalle is the more ancient settlement going back to the 1st century BC as a Roman outpost in the Castrum which is now a B&B. Many grand villas built during the 14th and 15th centuries can be seen peeking through gates along the main road. During the 16th century, the painter, Tiziano, was a frequent visitor as his daughter was married to a noble here. One of his paintings hangs in the church of Santa Maria Nova. The beautifully restored Raccola-Troyer Palace with its frescoes shares Piazza Flaminio with one of the oldest clock face tower in Europe and the Loggia of the Community which houses a museum featuring locally connected art pieces. The museum has limited hours and the ticket includes a visit to the 15th century church of San Lorenzo dei Battuti with its wonderful frescos. Unfortunately, one of the frescoed sections was demolished to make room for the road through town. Also in Piazza Flaminio is a pedestal used deliver the news to the townspeople and a large pole topped by Venice’s St. Mark’s lion.

High on the hill above the town you can see the ruins of the defensive walls and the church of St. Giustina. I’m saving that walk for better weather and views of the area.

In the opposite direction is Ceneda, also with Roman beginnings as a support post for the Castrum of Serravalle. In the 9th century, it was a spa town because the waters in the spring were thought to have curative powers. This area also has beautiful villas such as the Villa Zuliani-Ascoli built in the beginning of the 18th century. In Giovanni Paolo’s square, you find the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, the small  church of San Paolo in Piano, the Loggia dei Cendese decorated with frescoes and war mementos, and going up hill a bit is another grand villa. Another hike that will wait for another day is the one leading to the Castle of San Martino. I started up but turned back when I reached the 1.5 hour marker. That just wasn’t going to be a good idea in the rain.

There were more tempting streets to explore. It’s a perfect place to cycle through as the area is fairly flat. There are many trails up through the hills for the adventurous.

Many of the churches were closed during my visit but this was not so much a sight seeing trip as just getting familiar with the area for future visits. I enjoyed walking (even in the misty rain) along the river walk and chatting with the resident ducks.

While there I shared my birthday with an important historical even for the town. The last great battle of  Word War I which signaled the defeat of the Austrian enemies was begun in Vittorio Veneto and ended on that date. On Saturday, there was a military demonstration to celebrate 150 years of Italian unity. Two of the units represented were the Alpini (with their Tyrolian style hats with a single feather) and the Bersaglieri (with their hats of black feathers falling over the side). I’ve always loved those feathered hats and the way the units run/jog instead of march. Even the band, “fanfara”, runs while playing. Another unit wore the uniforms of WWI. In the shopping area next to Piazza del Popolo, there were tables and signs with photos from the war and the occupation of the towns. There was even a “camp” set up with soldiers getting hot rations.

My visit coincided with the first Sunday on the month on which a big antique market is held. Because of the rainy weather that Sunday, a small number of booths were huddled under the porticos.

Good food was had at Laltropeo and Lux Bar. I found a great pastry shop, da Sandro’s. Great pizza was available at San Remo’s and San Gennaro. There are several larger grocery stores as well as the usual small markets, all within walking distance. Claudio’s small market had all the basics as well as hot roasted chestnuts. I am looking forward to making this a comfortable base for future trips.

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One Comment

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  1. Jeannetta Vivere / Dec 8 2011 3:51 pm

    beautiful !!!

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