Venice has often been compared to the figure of a mother, warm and welcoming, but sometimes oppressive. It was Henry James who said that the city of Venice is like an open-door sitting room, then Tiziano Scarpa added that the actors (thus us, the people who live here and step these stones everyday) are always reminded of who they are and do not have the possibility to abandon themselves to total oblivion. Oh, how I agree!
No matter how much I love my city, going away, even just for half a day, is a necessity. The longer holidays are still far off, but a day trip is definitely better than nothing and this week our destination was Treviso, a small and elegant walled town only 30 minutes by train from Venice. Treviso is a little gem, with a unique and extremely lovely historical centre and a rich country side known for radicchio, prosecco and clothing industries (just think of Benetton) and I do recommend visiting if you manage to find the time (a return ticket costs 6,90 euros).
Very different from Padua, the first thing you will notice once off the train is how clean and well-kept the centre is. The people in general, but the women in particular, are all extremely well-dressed (Manhattan style, with the difference that we're in the country...) and at the weekend the streets of the centre turn into actual fashion shows. I have to confess I felt a bit out of place, when I glanced at myself in the mirror I thought I looked like the female version of Huckleberry Finn and understood the strange glances people were throwing at me, but anyway... this fact wasn't going to stop me from enjoying my day!!!
From the train station we just took the left, crossed the bridge over the Sile river, passed the Camera di Commercio and reached the most important square: Piazza dei Signori. The medieval buildings will bring you back to the times of Italian Comuni and Signorie, with its Palazzo del Podestà, Palazzo del Trecento and Palazzo Pretorio. Here you can admire some lovely statues and sculptures of lions, symbols of the former domination of the Republic of Venice. Plus, this is definitely the place for the pre-lunch and pre-dinner aperitif!
When we went, the Artisan Bread Feast was taking place in the Loggia dei Cavalieri and, in addition to this, there was also a street market with quality hand made pottery and jewels, so we did what a tourist would do: simply wandered around and enjoyed the atmosphere. The narrow streets under the porticos are truly lovely and the modern shops that replace older trades have maintained the original signs and structure and are well worth seeing. From the centre we kept walking round and round and in a couple of minutes we reached the other important square: Piazza del Duomo, which symbolised the religious power of the city, in opposition to the political power represented by Piazza dei Signori.
Piazza del Duomo has a quite unique and strange shape, being asymmetrical and long, almost stretched. Here you can visit the San Giovanni Battista Church (please take time to note the details, like the remaining frescos on the side walls and the stunning architectural decorations) and the Cathedral, where I have to say... people (Vito and I did the same too) were sitting on the steps trying to breathe in as much sunshine as possible and possibly get a little tan. Just after the cathedral there is the Residency of the Bishop and also -most importantly- an amazing food shop called Naturalmente. Okay, okay... I'm getting excited here, so let me organise the sentence and explain one thing at a time.
This cosy and very pretty shop is a point of sale of Borgoluce, one of the best and most virtuous cheese and prosecco producers in the region, and Borsetto, a farm that grows with natural methods and respects the environment. Borgoluce is known mostly for its quality prosecco, charcuteries and cheese, flours, honey and oils, while Borsetto produces mouthwatering veggies and fruits in San Biagio di Callalta (TV) and also other products like pasta, jams and chutneys and lavender. Needless to say, Vito and I bought some white and green asparagus (only 6,50 a kilo!!!!), two packs of pasta and a small box of strawberries, the first of the season! So good... it's incredible how different the taste is from the huge ones produced in green houses available all year round, really!
Just in front of the shop there were two food trucks where stop was mandatory. First we tried the Paprika Microfriggitoria, a truck serving craft beer produced in the area and -obviously- fried nibbles, then we wanted to try the Mami Gelato al Volo truck, offering artisan ice-cream with only natural products (among which, prosecco!), but we decided to return after lunch. We weren't that hungry, but I had read that NaturaSi, one of my favourite organic stores, in Treviso also had a small restaurant and was curious to try it out, so we went! It was very cosy and bright and the staff was so kind and smiley that I felt joyful and spoilt. With this said, don't expect a fancy and elegant environment, it was more in the mood of my Huckleberry Finn look and I simply felt at home. We shared a chickpea hummus with sautéed veg first and then Vito had chicken with honey and mustard, while I had a bean soup with raw Jerusalem artichoke. Yum!!!
When we left we went quickly back to Piazza dei Signori and stopped at the historical Hosteria Dai Nanetti, a tiny place serving cured meats, cheese and quality wine. A real institution, where you will have to queue and patiently wait for your turn and fight your way through he crowds. I would recommend a stop to all those who love salami, soppressa and prosciutto. It's my husband who is more into these foods (in fact, joking he says I'm Naturally and he is the Epicurean and that my blog will only work if we stay together!!! Ah, ah... funny and sweet at the same time) and he really enjoyed this small break. Most produce is km 0 and natural, then there are a couple of must-have Italian cured meats, like Mortadella Bolognese and Bresaola from Valtellina, which are still natural and of very high quality.
If, instead, what you are looking for is a traditional meal seated, our suggestion is to try L'Oca Bianca, serving both fish and meat. But at that point we had eaten enough and had to go back to Naturalmente to try the ice-cream (excellent, worth the extra walk)! Before going back to the train station, we stopped at some bookstores. In Venice, unfortunately, there aren't many and the few ones we have have a very strong identity and select the books that most represent it, which is great from one point of view, but from another... it gives us less choice, especially if we just want to read a crime story or anything that is not necessarily political or 'high-profile'. So, Vito got himself three crime stories while for me we chose L'Orto di un Perdigiorno by Pia Pera, a book that has never been translated into English (the title literally means the veg garden of a layabout) but that is really brilliant. In brief, it's a sort of journey through the soul that moves from how she learnt to look after her veg garden. Lovely! (In English, instead, I recently really enjoyed Eating on the Wild Side by Jo Robinson).
So, this was our day! I hope you will enjoy the few tips you can find in this post and, possibly, have the chance to visit this lovely town. Remember, Treviso is only 30 minutes train from Venice and it is a more than doable trip. If you decide to go, let me suggest to do it at the weekend, when central Venice inevitably gets over-crowded. Leave in the morning when day trippers(cruise shippers/etc. arrive and return in the evening, when they'll all be gone!
Buona giornata! A presto amici.