The Berici Hills, also referred to as Riviera Berica, is a serene haven located south of Vicenza, Italy. It is an area that should be explored at a leisurely pace, perhaps by bicycle, as you pass by charming villages, Palladian villas, wineries, and farms. Embrace the freedom to discover the many landmarks of the region, ranging from the exquisite Villa Valmarana ai Nani and the Rotonda to the picturesque vineyard trails, the village of Costozza, and the historic Via dei Molini in Mossano.
Tiepolo frescoes and a tragic legend of the dwarf Princess at the 17th-Century Villa Valmarana
Although this villa from the late 17th century does not belong to works by Palladio, it is still a worthwhile destination due to the stunning frescoes painted by Giambattista Tiepolo and his son Giandomenico. Tiepolo’s frescoes adorn the walls of both the main villa, known as the “Palazzina”, and the “”, the guest house. The Palazzina’s vibrant and airy frescoes depict scenes from the Aeneid by Virgil.
However, there is more to this mansion than just its beautiful artwork. Legend has it that a young dwarf princess was held captive in this villa, guarded by other dwarves. One day, while strolling in the garden, she met a handsome prince and, realizing that she was shorter than him, she was overcome with despair and tragically threw herself from the tower of the mansion. The other dwarves were so heartbroken by her death that they turned to stone and now stand guard atop the villa’s stone walls.
Venetian Villas and caves at the Foot of Berici Mountains in Costozza
This historic community, situated at the base of the Berici Mountains, derives its name from the ancient practice of storing wine in caves. Thanks to its rich agricultural heritage, the region boasts numerous villas, such as the 15th-century Villa Trento on the left and the 17th-century Villa Trento-Carli on the right, which features caves equipped with an elaborate air-conditioning system developed during medieval times.
In the heart of a spacious square, an Italian garden provides a panoramic view of the three buildings that comprise the Da Schio villas. Upon ascending the steps, visitors will find the Da Schio villa, an 18th-century structure with a U-shaped floor plan on the right, and Ca’Molina, a villa dating from the 15th-16th centuries. Further up the mountainside lies the Garzadori-Da Schio villa from 1690, which boasts a natural cave forming part of its ceiling and walls.
| Keep reading: The hamlet of Costozza |
Enchanting Valle dei Mulini in the Charming Community of Mossano
Mossano is a small yet prosperous community nestled on the slopes of the Berici Hills. The Valle dei Mulini (Valley of the Mills) in Mossano is a magical destination, where the vibrant greenery of spring contrasts against the snow-white hues of wild calla lilies, a gently flowing stream, and well-manicured gardens. Strolling along the charming bridges and paths in this area can transport one into a daydream.
Prior to the mid-20th century, twelve hydraulic mills from the Middle Ages operated along this section of the valley, utilizing water from a stream that gushes a little further upstream. While traveling along the road, visitors can marvel at the characteristic dwellings and ultimately reach the most enchanting mill, located in a picturesque spot.
Lumignano, a picturesque town of caves, medieval hermitages, and culinary delights
Lumignano is a delightful town located on the southern outskirts of Vicenza, Italy, renowned for its production of peas and the delicious Veneto specialty dish, risi e bisi (rice and pea-based dish).
Despite being commonly overlooked by visitors who simply drive through the Berica Riviera highway, the town boasts unique features, including caves and ravines (so-called “covoli”) lining the imposing rocky cliffs. These caves served as a refuge for prehistoric humans, including Neanderthal man some 200,000 years ago, and were also the site of medieval hermitages such as the famous and striking San Cassiano hermitage, a small house with an adjoining overhanging oratory. Lumignano is thus an internationally renowned destination for its dolomite cliffs, favored by rock climbers.
| Continue reading: How to combine taste, history and sports along the Berici Hills trails |