It’s a Beau­ti­ful Day in the Neigh­bour­hood

DINE and Destinations - - ON THE COVER - By Sara Wax­man

On a typ­i­cal morn­ing, I wake to the sounds of the ebb and flow of early morn­ing com­merce fil­ter­ing through the open win­dow of Lo­canda Ponte Dante. Five gue­strooms have been cre­ated in this three-story, 14th cen­tury build­ing. Re­tain­ing its me­dieval charm, it has re­cently been ren­o­vated in Ital­ian min­i­mal­ism. And it stands on the very site men­tioned by Dante in The Divine Com­edy: the bend where the rivers Sile and Cag­nan meet. The heart of Tre­viso. It is pos­si­ble to fall in love ev­ery day in Tre­viso. The city em­braces you with its charm and old world­li­ness. A kiss on the hand, a chair pulled out, and all the man­ner­li­ness that has dis­ap­peared from our so­cial in­ter­course.

In the first floor An­tica Osteria, where tra­di­tional, sea­son­ally chang­ing Veneto cui­sine is as pop­u­lar as it ever was, break­fast is fresh apri­cot cake and espresso. Dur­ing my morn­ing stroll along the streets, I pause at Pi­azza Monte di Pi­ete to ad­mire the an­cient ar­chi­tec­ture, and ab­sorb the fash­ion for­ward Ital­ian style in shop win­dows. At the Frutta e ver­dura da Pi­azza, they have been groom­ing their wares un­til they take on the ap­pear­ance of jewels. Un­blem­ished, un­bruised and per­fect, each ex­cep­tional piece is an ode to na­ture. On the street, they call it Bul­gari, and I do tend to agree.

Mid­morn­ing, I’m an­tic­i­pat­ing a new ex­pe­ri­ence. How of­ten do I have an op­por­tu­nity to en­joy an om­bre and panini at a 100-year-old restau­rant? At Osteria Dai Naneti, be­low, there are no ta­bles; ev­ery­thing is fo­cused around the bar where Beppi and Fabio keep wines from Italy’s vine­yards. Ev­ery cor­ner breeds tra­di­tion. It is a fas­ci­nat­ing mu­seum of the lo­cal culi­nary his­tory.

There is an af­ter­noon of ex­cite­ment planned at Villa Sandi. The Chair­man, Gian­carlo Moretti Pole­gato, is the supreme host, and es­corts me through the cel­lars, his grounds and his mo­tor­cy­cle room, where I’m sur­prised to see taxi­dermy of Cana­dian moose. We are in the town of Val­dob­bi­adene, the heart of prosecco coun­try in Tre­viso. A tast­ing of vigna La Rivetta Car­tizze and Val­dob­bi­adene Prosecco Su­pe­ri­ore is a re­minder of why this sparkling elixir is one of my long time favourites.

His­tory and cui­sine march on the bor­der of Venice and Tre­viso to the 90-year-old Ris­torante Mene­galdo. It has grown from a small trattoria after the First World War to a fine din­ing fam­ily run restau­rant. Franco Mene­galdo has a con­cise point of view: ex­cel­lent in­gre­di­ents and a lot of pas­sion. It is self ev­i­dent in the ar­ray of mol­lusk, scal­lops, ra­zor clams and a va­ri­ety of baked and grilled fish, all still pre­pared in the same time­honoured tra­di­tions.

It is easy to make friends in Tre­viso. Tonight Hanna, Vanessa (both seen here), Ida and I will meet in the court­yard of Abituè for a clas­sic lo­cal di­ver­sion, the long aper­i­tivo. There is a style here so ca­sual and un­con­structed that it is no sur­prise it is repli­cated world­wide. A se­ries of de­lec­ta­ble savouries and cock­tails carry us well into the din­ner hour.

To dine well in Tre­viso, one must take a ta­ble at Ris­torante Da Al­fredo Re­lais El Toulà. Over­seen by con­sum­mate restau­ra­teur Ar­turo Filip­ini and his son Ni­cola, this is where our high ex­pec­ta­tions for ex­u­ber­ant cui­sine are met. In the bar, the patina of warm wood adds a glam­orous glow. In the din­ing room paint­ings, fres­cos and art ob­jects hark back to the Bel Époque. Fresh baby ar­ti­chokes finely sliced into sal­ads; zuc­chini blos­soms burst­ing with their gen­tle fillings; fish from nearby lake-to-plate that comes redo­lent with herbs and lo­cal olive oils. Tra­di­tional cuts of veal and beef pre­pared to cen­turies-old recipes that have been ad­mirably adapted to co­in­cide with to­day’s palate. Pasta is of­fered with ev­ery meal, of course. I can­not order, I leave my choices to the kitchen and hap­pily en­joy each course. Around us are the di­alects and lan­guages of an in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity of gourmets, din­ing on nat­u­rally fine fare.

Ro­mance flirts in the fab­ric of Tre­viso. At Pizze­ria S. Agostino they make pizza in the shape of a heart. At the Fon­tana Delle Tette, the sculp­ture cre­ated for Tre­viso in 1559, the pop­u­lous comes to quench their thirst at the breast of the Fon­tana in the court­yard of the palace Zig­noli. To­day, how­ever, they quaff fresh wa­ter and not red and white wine.

I am se­ri­ously con­sid­er­ing a re­turn to spend a few months in this lan­guid, lovely re­gion. It is the stuff that dreams are made of, and I have my eye on a fab­u­lous rental at Ap­par­ta­menti Villa Domenica.

Fall­ing in love with the food, the wine and the peo­ple of Tre­viso

Ar­turo Filip­ini (left), Sara Wax­man and Gian­carlo Moretti Pole­gato

Zuc­chini blos­soms

info@vil­ladomenica.it; in­folo­can­dapontedante.com

www.toula.it; www.vil­lasandi.it

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