The medieval town of Soave is one of the most suggestive and intriguing places in Veneto, northern Italy. Surrounded by fortified walls, famous vineyards and immersed in a fairytale atmosphere, it’s an ideal one-day trip for wine tasting and a meaningful “slow food” experience.
It must be just a case that the word soave in Italian means “sweet and exquisite”, and it is surely a word appropriate for describing the medieval town of Soave, 20 km east of Verona. Coming from Verona by car, you can immediately see the ancient fortified walls, a giant snake made of bricks and stone, sleeping for centuries on sweet green hills. The town is surrounded by well ordered vineyards, forming clean green lines of garganega, the quality of golden grapes at the origin of the renowned Soave wine.
Once you approach the village, the walls look thicker and reveal the defensive purpose for which they were built in 1379, probably on and older Roman fortification; a construction ordered by Cansignorio della Scala, of the noble family dominating Verona and Western Veneto in the middle ages. The walls enclosed and defended the ancient part of the village from attacks and invasion, in a time when Italy was divided in city-states and neighbours were foreigners. There are three original gates giving access to the town: Porta Aquila (now Porta Bassano) on the northern side, Porta Vicenza on the eastern side and Porta Verona looking south. On the western and southern sides the walls are protected by the river Tramigna, a natural barrier.
Soave is a small town, you don’t need a map to visit it. It will only spoil the surprise of discovering marvellous ancient buildings, breathtaking panoramas, hidden alleys leading to beautiful courtyards. It is just worth mentioning a few monuments you should know.
- Palazzo Scaligero. Built by Cansignorio della Scala in the XIV century, it is the former residence of the Judges and Governors of Soave. During the Venetian domination it became the residence of the Captains who represented Venezia, the Serenissima. It is currently the city hall.
- Palazzo di Giustizia. In Antenna Square, in the center of the town. Surprisingly, it was built in just a few months, between April and July 1375. It’s a building with a fresh loggia, a four-door with Venetian-Gothic arches.
- Il Castello. Built in the 14th century, this beautiful castle dominates the town. It is possible to visit inside and see original fresco’s and rooms with ancient furniture.
- Santa Maria dei Domenicani. Built in 1443 by Dominican Friars.
Soave is well know in Italy and abroad for its fruity white wine, usually simply labelled with the name of the city. A good and simple marketing strategy, conceived when marketing was not a science. A glass of Soave wine – sweet and exquisite – from the town of Soave, is s truly refreshing discovery during a break at one of the town’s enoteca’s, the Italian typical wine bars.
We recommend the enoteca Il Drago, inside the ancient Palazzo di Giustizia. Along with different local Soave wines you can have a light meal with venetian products like soppressa, the local salami, culatello, top quality raw ham, and a tasty portion of bigoli , the original thick home made spaghetti of Veneto. All served in a classy and modern fashion.
For your wine shopping, you can find several places to taste and buy some excellent Soave. We recommend a small shop, on the main street, Via Roma, called Soave World, where you can find a wide range of local wine from Soave and the Verona countryside, grappa, local olive oil and some other delicacies.