The wine road
Travelling through the vineyards for an experience of spirit.
Let’s leave Bibione for a day and explore the Lison-Pramaggiore D.O.C. Wine Road and its ancient history, with its infinite maze of grapevines and splendid scenery, witnesses to a spirituality you can inhale in rich abbeys and intimate little churches. An inland confined by the Livenza and Lemene Rivers and the lagoon of Bibione and Caorle that holds wine to be an undisputed hero. It has been a hero since time gone by, when the writer Pliny, calling it “helos”, described how the wine was grown in the marshlands of Opitergium and Concordia. These wines, produced by the patricians and Doges of the Republic of Venice, were catalogued in 1823 by the Institute of the Royal Court of Vienna in the first official “Catalogue of the Varieties of Grapevines in the Kingdom of Veneto”. These varieties and qualities are guaranteed today by the Venice Wines Consortium. Since 1986, the association called “Strada dei Vini D.O.C. Lison Pramaggiore” promotes fascinating wine/cultural itineraries through villages, vineyards, wine cellars and uncontaminated landscapes.
To the origins of the area: Concordia and Roman wines
We begin our tour in Concordia Sagittaria, a famous town of Roman origins, easy to get to from Bibione by taking SP74 along Via Aldo Moro; about halfway we turn left onto Via Marango to take SP42 to Sindacale, where we turn right onto Via Cavanella, leading to Concordia. This former Roman colony (first century B.C.) was a strategic crossroads during imperial times of the Annia and Postumia roads and the Lemene River. The Romans played a decisive role in spreading viniculture and refining the techniques of wine conservation. In addition to finds with Roman origins – which make this town one of the most important archaeological sites in Northern Italy – Concordia is also known for its D.O.C. grape varieties. Along the road leading to Summaga, we find numerous farms that produce cherished wines and wine cellars where a visitor can sample and purchase them.
Summaga and the wine of the Abbots
We leave Concordia Sagittaria, continuing along Via San Pietro near San Giusto (crossing SS14); we continue on Via Noiare until it turns into Via Montecassino, which leads to Summaga. In the meadows that border this city, lies a treasure, the Benedictine Abbey, dating to the tenth or eleventh centuries, which still has its eighteenth-century facade. Summaga is an essential stop in the history of wine: this is where, following the devastations of the barbarians, the monks reintroduced grapevine cultivation, which was widespread in the surrounding countryside during Roman times. Before our journey continues, let’s taste a glass of Lison DOCG, a wine produced here since the 1700s from Tocai grapes. This is a straw-coloured white wine, recognizable for its pale green reflections and cool taste. Lison is the only guaranteed wine from the Province of Venice boasting the “denomination of controlled origin”: a recognition that places it among the best Italian wines.
The miracles of the Madonna and of wine in one of the most beautiful villages in Italy.
Next, we head for the village of Cordovado that, in 2005, joined the exclusive club of the “most beautiful villages in Italy” due to the enchanting charm of its historic centre. To get there, we depart Summaga and from Via San Benedetto we turn right onto Viale Treviso (SR63): at the roundabout, we take the second exit on the left (Tangenziale Odorico da Pordenone) and continue straight to the second roundabout to Viale Udine (SP463), which leads to this village. Cordovado, with a wealth of sacred art, includes a church that has been a goal of pilgrimages for centuries: it is the Sanctuary of the Madonna (XVII century), done in “Baroque Veneto” style, with a painting inside that commemorates its origins.
Histories of wines and culture: the Lombard treasure of Sesto
We leave behind Cordovado and travel next to Sesto al Reghena, a different place with a different history; in Sesto, around the year 735, there were two new beginnings: that of the wine, with a strong movement to viniculture (continued by the Republic of Venice and completed between the late 1800s and 1950), and that of the splendid abbey of Saint Mary in Sylvis, facing the current Castello Square. After this sacred atmosphere, continuing towards Cinto Caomaggiore, we stop to discover a red wine, the Lison variety Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso, which is sold both young and aged in casks (which gives it entirely special flavours). Refosco dal Peduncolo exalts the taste of delicate meats like quail or stronger ones like tenderloin with green pepper.
“Heretical” peoples and pure wines in Cinto Caomaggiore
Cinto Caomaggiore lies between two regions – Veneto and Friuli – and two rivers – the Caomaggiore and the Reghena – and in its downtown the faithful meet in the Church dedicated to San Biagio (XVI century), which has always been a social glue in the city’s history: at the beginning of the twentieth century, Friulan and Istrian refugees met here, and during the Great War, a time when even the church bells were requisitioned, the building functioned as a military hospital. A unique aspect of local spirituality is the ancient Anabaptist worship, a radical doctrine derived from the Lutheran Reformation, which spread in the sixteenth century here and in other parts of Veneto. Cinto, with its favourable environment, also holds natural pearls like the “lakes of Cinto” full of aquatic animals and fed by the underground resurgences of the Tagliamento River. This is a perfect background for tasting a cool glass of Pinot Grigio or Chardonnay: sophisticated wines whose mellow flavour and pleasant aroma make them great companions for cuisine featuring freshwater fish.
A multi-coloured wine, a church and a Baron: the Belfiore, Loncon and Pradipozzo “triangle”.
The ancient consular road “Postumia”, which we saw earlier in Concordia, also goes to Pradipozzo, where we will make a brief stop before continuing towards the Church of Belfiore. First, however, there is a mandatory trip to Pramaggiore: City of Wine, which is home to a variety of notable artistic monuments like the parish church of Saint Mary of the Assumption. We are in the area that, along with nearby Belfiore and Loncon, forms the beating heart of the Road of Wines. Strolling in the small town centre, we get the ancient flavour of the town, in which a well from Roman times was recently discovered.
Then we head for Belfiore, where we find the last church on our itinerary: the seventeenth-century church dedicated to Saint Susannah. While we are in Belfiore, the mill deserves a visit, as it shows centuries of the area’s rural life, being part of the late nineteenth-century architectural complex of Villa Dalla Pasqua on the right bank of the Loncon River.
It is almost time to head back, but first we must have another glass of wine: let’s sample some in one of the wineries of Loncon, a small town near the river of the same name. It is said that the wine cellars in the area originated in the 1930s due to a passion for wine on the part of the Hungarian Baron Lajos Babos, a former marine captain; he was the one who applied severe military rules to the work in the vineyards, monitoring the productivity of his employees with a telescope.
The aftertaste of the wines we sipped in our wanderings will accompany us on our journey back to Bibione, one of the nicest seashore areas in the upper Adriatic.