As we walked and cycled companionably along the lazy river in the late afternoon, the sun glinted orange on the water flowing like molasses between the gently waving grasses, backlit and golden in the sun’s last rays. The air was warm and syrupy, alive with the sound of birds and chirruping insects. Behind us, a church bell started to ring and we all looked back at the elegant but lazily leaning ochre church spire. At that moment it was hard to imagine a more peaceful place and yet we were only 90 minutes from the tourist scrums in Venice, on the outskirts of Rovigo in Emilia Romagna.
Our walk had begun only a few minutes earlier at Corte Carezzabella, an agriturismo owned by the Reato family and our home for the night. Driving into the forecourt of the building with its pleasantly symmetrical arches is rather like driving into a famous Giorgio de Chirico painting and as Signore Reato would later explain to us, it is this striking similarity between art and life that inspired them to use a likeness of the child depicted in the De Chirico painting on their logo. Built in the early 1900s, these agricultural outbuildings and stables have been lovingly restored and converted into a farmhouse with guest accommodation. The guest bedrooms occupy the old granaries; the carpenter’s room has become the library and the old smithy is the kitchen; and where the tractors used to park is now the living room and the dining room. Rooms are basic but spacious and comfortable – mine featured a mezzanine bedroom with a seating area and a divan that can sleep an extra bed downstairs.
Despite the lure of the swimming pool, we all decided to head down to the river for a walk before dinner. It’s a short walk through the village and then up onto the raised embankment that runs along the riverbank making a perfect place to walk or cycle – and Corte Carezzabella has bikes that can be borrowed by guests. The river in question, the Adige which starts high in the Dolomites in South Tyrol, winds its way through 410 km of italy, making it the country’s second longest river. Here near Rovigo, it is broad and slow-flowing, fringed by reeds and grasses – perfect for a relaxing evening stroll through the Veneto countryside. Having worked up an appetite we headed back to Corte Carezzabella where we enjoyed some traditional dishes prepared with the products of the Reatos’ farming business, including two kinds of bruschetta; risotto; and crostata made with their own homemade jam. With dinner we also enjoyed a bottle of Temetum Rosso del Veneto wine, one of a number of wines produced on the farm.
But despite their excellent hospitality skills, the Reatos were keen to point 0ut that the principal activity at Corte Carezzabella remains agriculture – it is a working 30 hectare farm producing a range of fruit and vegetables. After a hearty buffet breakfast in the dining room the following morning, we set off to explore the farm under the guidance of Sr. Reato, his daughter Chiara and a Nordic walking instructress – Nordic walking being one of the many outdoor activities that Corte Carezzabella can arrange for guests during their stay. And although you might think it is just a matter of walking with two sticks in your hand, our elfin instructress showed us there is more to it if you want to get the most out of this whole-body exercise, putting us through a series of co-ordination exercises before we got into our stride. The Reatos explained as we walked that they are in the process of becoming an organic farm and almost half the land is set aside for the cultivation of asparagus while the other half is divided between fruit such as apples, pears, peaches, cherries; as well as lots of summer and winter vegetables. Two hectare are set aside for vineyards and because of the Adige river’s flooding, the sandy soil is ideal for drainage and therefore the growing of grapes. On our walk we explored the apple orchards, the vineyards and the impressive greenhouses where tender crops like strawberries are grown. And on the way home, we even had an impromptu foraging demonstration as Sr. Reato collected a basket of beautiful wild mushrooms.
Back at the farmhouse after our morning’s exertions, we relaxed on the terrace where we were greeted with glasses of vividly coloured and flavoured fresh strawberry juice and a beautiful buffet lunch featuring local products, many of which were grown and made on the farm. Chiara was particularly keen to point out the Corte Carezzabella jam, made with the sweetest and ripest fruits, sugar and lemon juice, following an old family recipe. The jams are available to guests at breakfast, or in bakes like the delicious crostata that we had. The full range that they produce (peach, strawberry, apricot, orange, plum, blackberry, cherry, pumpkin) is also available in the Corte Carezzabella farm shop, together with fresh fruits and vegetables from the farm, their flour, honey and wine. The lunch was a wonderful end to a relaxed stay – far too brief, but filled with beautiful images and memories, and warm hospitality.
Read more about my trip to Emilia Romagna here:
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We flew on British Airways which operate a number of direct flights per week from London Gatwick airport to Bologna, with fares ranging from about £90 to £200 for a return flight. EasyJet and Ryanair also operate regular flights from Gatwick. Venice marco Polo is only 5 km further away and regular daily flights from London are also available. Corte Carezzabella is about a 90km drive from either of these airports.
Agriturismo Corte Carezzabella is ideally situated for exploring in between two parks namely the Euganean Hills National Park and the Po Delta National Park. It is also the perfect starting point for day trips to other Emilia Romagna cities like Bologna, Ferrara and mantova, as well as to Venice. But should you choose not to explore, it is also an ideal place for rest, relaxation and contemplation in beautiful surroundings. Follow them on Facebook to keep up to date on news and promotions. More information on visiting the Italian UNESCO district generally is available here.
Agriturismo Corte Carezzabella
Via Marconi 754
45030 San Martino di Venezze
Tel: +39 (0)425 176157
Fax: +39 (0)425 99038
DISCLOSURE: I visited Corte Carezzabella as part of a press trip organised and paid for by the Italian government and the Regional Governments of Emilia Romagna, Lombardy & Veneto. This was part of a project to promote tourism in the areas of Bologna, Ferrara, Rovigo and Mantova, all named Unesco World Heritage sites, after they were hit by a serious earthquake in 2012. Other than the trip itself, I received no payment to write this post and all opinions are my own.
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