Until last year I had never heard about Cison di Valmarino, one of the Borghi più Belli d’Italia (most beautiful villages in Italy). Or at least not that I recall… Then, suddenly, it seemed to me that I had never known nothing like Jon Snow ’cause I had never been there. I opened Facebook: a pic of Cison di Valmarino; Twitter: same thing; I joined a blog tour and everyone was talking about how beautiful this village was; I heard from my friend Tomaso and he had just visited his aunt living nearby. I had to see it. So during a long weekend I decided to go. And I was lucky.
Here in Padova the weather was horrible that day. Cold, ok. It was December after all! But it was also foggy and humid. And it was so until we reached Conegliano. After Conegliano it was sunny. No fog. Matteo is convinced that it was about him and his Sun-song. But I think it was a matter of altitude. Anyway, we reached Cison di Valmarino and we followed the Parking signals. The park is right at the bottom of a hill, where you can see Castelbrando castle. The parking lot was divided into two different areas: one dedicated exclusively to the castle guests, the other one for “mere mortals”.
We headed at first toward the village, cause we saw many people going that way and also because it was almost time for lunch so we thought we could find something to eat at the markets.
The first part of the Christmas markets was located inside an old farm: in the rooms of a rural house with orange walls, inside the barn, and under the tools shelter. Very suggestive. All around some kiosks selling tea, cheese, cured meats, in short: food. At the centre a Christmas tree decorated with children’s drawings. And what about the items? Well, that was a pleasant surprise! Real Italian artisan products: vases, shoes, bags, belts, costume jewellery. I fell in love with some necklaces made with ancient forks, spoons and clocks!
And also with some handmade leather bags. I loved them because they were simple. Finally. I never find simple bags. They always have studs, fringes, multiple or/and preposterous colours, huge symbols or trademarks. I like basic things (OK, not always): monochrome, with no writings, possibly black (it matches with everything, you know). It seems impossible to find things like that. So when I saw those cute bags providing all of these features I was ecstatic! Unfortunately the model which I was aiming to wasn’t available in black. But the girl who creates the bags, Valentina, told me that she has a shop near Vicenza, so I can go any time. Yay!
After that we proceeded towards the main street of this tiny village: a church in a slightly elevated position, some elegant palaces, the town hall, a refined hotel and many kiosks selling radicchio, formaggio, vino, frittelle di mele (which I love). I thought: Ok, that’s all, the village is all here. But no. Going on along the river there were more kiosk and another covered market with all sort of objects: toys, pillows, slippers, herbal teas, natural cosmetics, dresses, ornaments including a wonderful stand selling mini ceramic hair balloons: How nice it was! All the kids were gazing at it dreamily.
In the adjacent alley there was a micro food court, run by locals, offering delicious gnocchi, melted cheese with bread, pork meat, beans, salad, water and wine, in a tiny room with no more than 80 seating. After lunch we went back to the parking lot and we took the funicular to reach Castelbrando. The Christmas markets at the castle were very poor compared to those at the village. As for the castle itself, well, I’ll write about it in another post. For now I will only tell you that the view from the castle was very lovely. It is surely a romantic place.
In conclusion, I can’t judge Cison di Valmarino. The village really is beautiful, with the castle overlooking it, picturesque corners, mountains in the background and above all an atmosphere of other times. But to judge properly I’d have to visit it during a regular weekend with no decorations, no kiosks, no beautiful leather bags or ceramics hair balloons and no mulled wine perfume in the air. It was so pleasant that I really wish to go back again, maybe during Spring to enjoy an outdoor lunch. Of course, I will tell you everything!
Unfortunately, there are no more markets in Cison, but you can find further information at www.artigianatovivo.it