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Explore the Italian home of prosecco

Associated Press Associated Press 30/10/2016 MIchelle Locke

You know prosecco as the fruity, Italian bubbly that's a bright accompaniment to a light meal, and a fun and affordable way to celebrate the holidays.

But this popular sparkling white wine can also be part of your holiday plans. Just like that other famous fizz, Champagne, it hails from a region that welcomes visitors who like to travel glass in hand.

From exploring hillside villages to strolling beside the tranquil canals of the city of Treviso, there's plenty to do, eat, see and sip in prosecco country. And since this is still a relatively undiscovered spot, prices aren't at the sky-high pitch of better- known places.

Here are a few things to know before you go.

WHERE TO GO

Prosecco is made in two regions in Northern Italy - the Veneto, also home to Venice, and neighbouring Friuli Venezia Giulia. The main city is Treviso, about a half-hour from Venice by train; an hour by car.

You can make this a day trip from Venice, renting a car, booking a trip through a touring company or hiring a guide and meeting at the rental car office.

For longer stays, you can either make Treviso a jumping-off point for the surrounding country or plot a course from town to town. A popular trail is the Strada del Prosecco (prosecco route), which winds from the town of Conegliano to the village of Valdobbiadene.

WHERE TO STAY

In Treviso, Relais San Nicolo, close to the Treviso train station and Treviso Cathedral, is comfortable and features unique, period furnishings. Rooms start at about $US100 ($A132) ($A132). Check out the wineries and restaurants you plan to visit, as they may have small guest houses attached (see Villa Sandi and Restaurant Parco Gambrinus below).

WHAT TO SEE

Treviso gets upstaged by grand dame Venice, but this city is worth at least an afternoon's stroll. Check out the Knight's Loggia on Via Martiri della Liberta, a 13th-century building that still has the remains of frescoes on its walls. In the centre of town you'll find the Piazza dei Signori, with its Palazzo dei Trecento (Palace of the 300), home to the municipal council. The building was bombed in the Second World War; a jagged scar on the restored wall bears testament.

In the Palace Loggia, you'll find the remains of the Fontana delle Tette, a fountain made in the 16th century in the shape of a woman that, you guessed it, sprayed water from each breast. On special days, the fountain dispensed wine. To see a replica (water only), head northwest on Piazza dei Signori, turn right on Vicolo Podesta and look for the statue to your left in the shopping arcade. It's tucked away in a small courtyard; you may need to ask for directions. Other attractions include the fish market, 22 Via Isola, open mornings except Sundays and Mondays. Also popular is taking a walk or bike ride along the tow path, known as the Restera, that runs alongside the Sile River.

WHAT TO TASTE

Villa Sandi in Crocetta del Montello features a Palladian-style mansion and extensive cellars. Guided tours and tastings are available by appointment.

The winery also has a six-room guest house, Locanda Sandi, at a separate estate in Valdobbiadene.

The San Simone winery in Porcia is open daily for tastings. Reservations are required on weekends and the company closes in August.

La Tordera in Valdobbiadene is open Monday to Saturday for tastings. Tours also available but require reservations.

WHAT TO EAT

In Treviso, Toni del Spin, 7 Via Inferiore, is a tavern in the historic centre serving traditional food with prices around $US25 for a meal, excluding drinks. In Valdobbiadene the Salis Ristorante Enoteca, 52 Strada di Saccol, is set on a hillside with a great view of the vineyards of Cartizze, the premium wine-growing region of prosecco country. Main courses start at around $US15. In San Polo di Piave, Restaurant Parco Gambrinus, Via Capitello 18, is known for its crayfish, which are served along with substantial bibs and written "commandments" on how best to enjoy them. Main courses start at around $US25. Rooms are also available in the adjacent inn, about $US100 for a double room.

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