Gap year debates have always raised the questions; should I work or should I wander. Should I save as much as I can and top up with bar work or should I seek something more rewarding?
Italy’s Veneto region offers young adventurers history, beauty, romance and opportunity and there has never been a better time to become part of a renaissance led by young people, forging new partnerships in the food and wine industry.
To be in the region, surrounded by vineyards, thriving as they have done for years in the dark volcanic soil, is to know that you are in a serious wine producing area. Prosecco is made in the Treviso province and Valpolicella, an easy drinking red, is made to the northwest of Verona. Soave production surrounds the pretty village of the same name.
The resurgence of an old favourite
Every so often a new white wine rises to prominence. Sauvignon Blanc’s and Chardonnays have had their turns and in the late 60’s and early 70’s there was Liebfraumilch. Whilst Prosecco might be the first Veneto region wine to spring to mind today, it has not always been so.
In the 1970’s and 80’s Soave was first choice, sold with tag lines like “There are almost as many people in love with Soave Bolla as there are people in love”. Soave has always been enjoyed by Italians and now, it is again becoming a popular export. Thanks this time to a handful of small producers, focusing on quality, not marketing, in the hope of securing longer-term relationships.
In support of great food
You expect Italian ‘Ristorante’ owners to be talkative and friendly, whilst providing their full service, dining experience. What you will not see though is the lengths to which they go to for your delight. With young food and wine producers, the supply chain is key and the relationships are close. High quality ‘Specialita’ menus are being created and delivered in partnership and there is non better than the one between Barrique and Vinizambon
History, Beauty, Legend and Romance
Famous for its ‘Sand’ floor, ‘The Arena’ in Verona was built before The Colosseum in Rome and is the best preserved Roman Amphitheatre. Arena literally means sand and it soaked up plenty of blood in its early days. The Arena was the home of the ‘Gladiator Games’, where 30,000 blood thirsty spectators came from all Italy to see “The Primus”, the grand finale, where only the best gladiators competed, after the exotic animals had all been slain or had their fill.
Although Pink Floyd, Dire Straits and One Direction Have attracted the crowds more recently, it is still possible to imagine how it must have felt to enter “The Sand” and fight for your life.
With its 160 km shoreline, lake Garda is as beautiful as it is imagined and whether you stand and stare at the beautiful lakeside properties or enjoy the ristorantes, shops and coffee houses, of the lakeside towns, you can’t help thinking of romantic screen idols and scenes from famous movies. The result is a heady mix that will keep you coming back time and time again, to discover new things.
The Bridge of Sighs
You must go to Venice and you must see the famous covered bridge. Are the ‘sighs’ those of lovers? Legend has it that if lovers kiss under the bridge at sunset, whilst sitting in a Venetian Gondola, they will enjoy eternal happiness. Or are they the sighs of the condemned taking their last view of freedom and their beloved city, as they pass from the courts of justice to the dark, damp city prison?
Romeo and Guiliette
The timeless story of Romeo and Juliet is why Verona is known as ‘The city of love’. The characters may be fictional but their families are not. The Montagues and the Capulets were important, Venetian aristocratics.
There are several places where you can relive the lovers’ story. See the balcony at the house of Guiliette, dating back to the 13th century. Enter through the gate bearing the Capulets emblem and discover a place where lovers to this day leave their messages.
When Romeo was banished from the city, he cried out: “There is no world for me outside the walls of Verona, except purgatory, torture, and hell itself”. (Romeo & Juliet: Act 3 Scene 3, by William Shakespeare).
Pick up the Language
Italian is a musical language that trips off the tongue a treat. Although English is largely understood in Venice, visited by 50,000 tourists a day in high season, in the more rural regions it is less so. Take some lessons before you go and then polish your pronunciation and enjoy being expressive with the locals.
Italian history, beauty, romance and legend are here for you, along with work experience opportunity. Why not contact a wine producer and enquire about harvesting or new planting projects, which could lead to a career in the industry?
You may become a wine importer, spreading the news of new, high quality, Soave. All the ingredients are present for an Italian feast and adventure awaits you.