Some time ago I (not entirely, then you’ll understand) attended a guided tour of Soave, a nice village in the province of Verona. Just the name is lovely. Soave [soh-AH-veh] in Italian means sweet, pleasant. Also the poet Dante had his say about it, writing that the village is indeed soave, but its wine even more. It is in fact mostly famous for its wines, Soave and Recioto.
Actually it seems that the name simply derives from the Svevi, Germanic people that came from the Baltic area to settle in the North of Italy.
I liked Soave very much. The only problem was our tour guide. Oh my God. I’m sorry to say so, but she was… boring. She was very well informed, maybe too informed :D, but she lacked the ability to captivate our interest. She had not the gift to engage people, teaching in a funny way. Plus her mic was broken so we couldn’t listen to a word she said, so after 20 minutes of torture, I said to Matteo: Basta, let’s skive off! And off we went.
What to see in Soave
The walls. They were actually the last fortification work of the village, with 24 observation towers, wanted by Cansignorio della Scala in 1375.
Under the main town’s door, Porta Verona, you can see many hanging grapes. This derives from an ancient custom. That of hanging the best grapes, called rece, to let them dry until Christmas. (In fact you won’t see them after Christmas and until the next harvest). Only then farmers pressed the grapes to produce the famous Recioto. No grapes under the other porte: Porta Vicentina (East) and Aquila (eagle, North).
Walk along the main road and you’ll soon reach San Lorenzo church. In front of it there’s Palazzo Cavalli, in Venetian Gothic style, is the one with the three arches portico and the trifora window on the centre of the facade, once adorned with beautiful frescoes.
In front of you you’ll surely notice the Gothic Palazzo di Giustizia (XIV). It is just lovely, with the loggia and the balcony. It now hosts a wine bar on the groundfloor and a detached section of Verona’s law court at the upper floors.
It is located in a piazza called Antenna. Why Antenna? Well, there’s a big flagpole, used to lift the San Marco flag during certain celebrations. Well, that flagpole is actually the yard of an ancient Venetian ship. Venice donated to Soave to reciprocate its loyalty during the war against the League of Cambrai in 1500.
If you take the street going up on the hill you will reach the Castle in less than 10 minutes. It is not a long walk, and it is less tiresome than the staircase located 100 meters further along the street. But pay attention because the path is quite bumpy. The castle dates back to X century and it was built on the relics of a Roman fortress.
Don’t be fooled once you’re up. If you go straight you’ll go out of the castle and out of town. There you can just see the exterior. To visit the castle, though, you have to proceed turning right. The interior is small, just a couple of decorated rooms. But the walls and the view from the walkway is worth a visit.
Before leaving Soave, you can stop in a Cantina to taste the namesake wine or the Recioto. I personally spotted a Wine cellar in a side of the main street.
It is so nice to see this burg with the castle perched on the hill and the vineyards around it. I love it. Every time I’m just passing by on the highway I see it and I reckon it is marvellous. I immediately start thinking about Middle Ages, fairy tales and all those incredible, magic stories that made me dream since I was little.