Above: A view, looking down on to the morainic hills of Proseccoland.
Just before the close of the year, winemaker Luca Ferraro and a couple of his buddies made a mountain bike ascent to the Rifugio Posa Puner, one of the many mountain pass “refuges” that dot the pre-Dolomitic Alps (see the photo of the actual rifugio below).
Luca is an avid mountain bike enthusiast and to tell the truth, the dude is a complete stud: when he’s not chained to the winery or working in the vineyards, his first move is to jump on his bike and hit the trails of the hills above Asolo where his family lives.
Above: Click on the image for a higher-resolution version. This panorama illustrates the sudden drop in altitude at the foot of the pre-Alps and the morainic (glacial) hills below. The morainic landscape that spans from Asolo (in the west) to Conegliano in the east is one of the primary elements in the unique terroir of Proseccoland (see also the Google map detail below).
Hiking (or these days, mountain biking) up to a “rifugio” is a classic pastime and recreational sport in the Veneto. The folks who live there make ascents like this in both summer and winter.
I found this itinerary and instructions on how to find the trail that leads to the rifugio here on a mountain bike forum. According to the authors of the post, it’s a medium-difficult itinerary and it’s considered “very hard” in terms of the physical conditioning needed to complete it (the authors note that most won’t make the entire ascent in the saddle of their bikes).
Here’s a detail from the Google map that I grabbed from the itinerary:
I set the map configuration to the terrain setting so that you can see the topography of Proseccoland. Note the chain of hills (below the pre-Alp mountain chain) running from Conegliano to Asolo. On clear days, you can see Venice and the Adriatic Sea from Proseccoland: the marittime influence that arrives from the sea is fundamental here and it’s part of what gives Prosecco it’s freshness and vibrant acidity.
Above: Luca and his buddies made the ascent at the end of December when the last leg of the path was iced over.
In another era, alpinists built these refuges as places where mountaineers could find shelter as they negotiated mountain passes.
During the second world war, these strategic outposts were vital for the partisans who battled the Germans (the provinces of Belluno and Treviso were backdrops to the Germans’ last stand).
Above: Luca’s photo of the rifugio.
Today, they’re there for recreational and sporting enjoyment.
But they also help us to better understand what makes Proseccoland so special — culturally and topographically.
Above: I thoroughly enjoyed “tagging along for the ride” with Luca and his buddies on his Facebook (you’ll find the whole album in the last entry in his 2012 photos).
In this last photo (above), you can clearly see the “bumps” of the morainic hills of Proseccoland. I can’t think of a better way to illustrate the unique topography of this place that I love so much.
Not only is it an ideal place to raise wine (and it has been since antiquity), it’s also breathtakingly beautiful…