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Relax in Venice with a Bellini

Al Fresco ItalyBy Sunday World
Peach Bellini
Peach Bellini

In Northern Italy, in Venice, or around Lake Garda, everywhere people seemed to be partaking the same elegant drink which looked very refreshing in the heat.

We desperately wanted to try it – but it took a considerable time to learn what it was. You can’t really just say “Can I have one of those per favore?”, can you – especially when you don’t speak the lingo.

But eventually we learnt the secret of the “Bellini” – the cocktail of freshly pressed peach juice and sparkling wine, (Prosecco in Italy; Champagne elsewhere) with its unique pink-orange tinge, supposedly the colour of the toga worn by a saint in the 15th-century painting of Venetian artist, Giovanni Bellini. Hence its name. Some versions contain peach schnapps as well, to give it a slight kick.

The best place to drink Prosecco, according to our wine expert, Simon Woods, (and many others!) is the famous Harry’s Bar in Venice, whose renowned customers have included Ernest Hemingway, Charlie Chaplin and Orson Welles. It was undoubtedly in this bar that the Bellini was born. From the port of Punto Sabbioni, just walking distance from the Marina di Venezia, you can take one of the regular 40 minute ferry trips across the lagoon and disembark at the quayside in the heart of the Venice.

This area is not just known for its Prosecco, however. An hour north west of Venice is the town of Bassano del Grappa, giving its name to the fragrant grape-based spirit. In 1973, Giannola Nonino made the first single varietal grappa from the Piculit grape at her family distillery. She is also credited with introducing the tall, elegant bottles in which Grappa is now sold.

Of course there are many other local wines to try, including whites such as Verduzzo and Friulano, reds such as Pignolo and Schioppettino, and of course the well-known Pinot Grigio. Enjoy!

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