Barge cruises in Italy not only offer you ‘La Bella Vita’, but also provide the opportunity to visit famous wine cellars too. Wine tours and barge cruises go hand in hand and provide the discerning traveller with luxury accommodation, a relaxed and laid back holiday, snippets of history and culture, and plenty of excellent food and wonderful wine. Guests need worry about nothing. Everything is laid on and all wine tours and visits are already organised for you.
Aboard the 20-berth Bella Vita, you can relax in the company of like-minded guests and reap the benefits of travelling with others who have similar interests to you. Cruise the Venetian Lagoon and the Po Valley at a sedate pace as you immerse yourself in Renaissance culture, art, and history, while taking time out to enjoy the best Italian wines of the region.
Known as one of the most famous wineries in the area, Villa Widmann-Borletti is situated in the south of the Padua plain. Its vineyards date back over 1000 years when they were managed by Benedictine monks. After the Canons of the Holy Spirit of Venice reorganised the monastery in the 16th century, the estate had to be sold to raise funds to support the Venetian war on the Turks.
In 1657, the Widmann family bought the villa and grounds and transformed them beautifully with the help of the architect, Baldassarre Longhena. The Church of St Michael was added, alongside a rather prominent façade on the front of the main house, a small theatre, several barns, cellars and stables too, all of which can be visited. Twenty-eight statues decorate the garden and represent aspects of daily life, with another dozen representing the signs of the zodiac.
The Wine Cellars
The obvious highlights of a visit to this grand villa are the wine cellars, which are one of the oldest parts of the whole estate. On any of the wine tours to this venue you will have the pleasure of visiting the cellars and admiring the fascinating underground complex made up of vaults and walls that are over 1m thick. Some of the oak barrels hold 5000 litres of wine, while others are a little smaller. Down in the cellars, the humidity and temperature are perfect for aging wine.
As well as the storage cellars there is also the winemaking cellar, which is where the grapes are processed using modern methods and up-to-date technology. Although today the winemaking process is carried out using more labour saving ways, the wonderful collection of old barrels, wine presses and agricultural machinery are testament to how the wine was made and processed in times gone by.
The villa’s wine production consists primarily of organic wines, sparkling wines and historical reserves. The ‘Friularo Bagnoli’ is the best example of the centuries-old wine so synonymous with the Domaine. The red grape ripens late into the autumn and imparts robustness to the wine which offers a refreshing burst of flavour too. Used in both reds and whites, the grape ages well. Its skins are used to make grappa, brandy, vinegar and even Passito Wine Jellies.
Wine tours to Italy on a barge hotel must include a visit to Villa Widmann-Borletti to offer any wine lover the chance to learn more about wine while enjoying the peaceful and beautiful countryside in which it is produced. That’s all without having to contend with public transport, hot cars, satnavs, and Italian driving too!
Paul Newman is the Marketing and E-Systems Executive for European Waterways, the UK's most respected provider of all-inclusive, luxury barge holidays. Offering holidays to France and other great destinations, itineraries include wine tours and other cultural and themed activities. Part of a team of experienced barging aficionados, Paul is first in line to endorse the perks of a slow-paced barge cruise to anyone looking for a unique holiday experience.
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