TREVISO, Italy — You know prosecco as the fruity Italian bubbly that’s a fun and affordable way to celebrate the holidays as well as a bright accompaniment to a light meal. But this popular sparkling white wine can also be part of your vacation 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.
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Portree, Scotland (AP) — Bonny Prince Charlie saw Scotland’s isle of Skye on the run. He was fleeing government troops after his Highland rebellion ended disastrously at the 18th century Battle of Culloden.
My visit was hurried, too, although due to nothing more exciting than a tight schedule — no redcoats on my tail.
Luckily, even a short stay is long enough to glimpse why the Misty Isle of Skye is one of Scotland’s most popular tourist attractions.
Here are a few reasons.
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I was in Cognac one hot summer day, trying to make conversation with a producer who spoke about as much English as I do French, and the situation was getting sticky in every way when he suddenly asked me whether I had been to Scotland.
Yes, I had.
Well, then, he asked, how did I feel about haggis.
“I LOVE it,” I replied. “It’s the perfect pairing for whisky.”
“Madame,” he said. “It’s the only reason to drink whisky.”
I would not go quite that far but I do feel that haggis is a sadly misunderstood comestible.
The name doesn’t help – Is that a disease or a dish? – and no one can claim that the product in its natural state is a beauty.
And then there’s the offal truth of what goes into haggis, at least in the traditional recipe – sheep’s pluck, which is not about spunky sheep but rather refers to the heart, liver and lungs. Recipes vary, but often the meat is minced with onion, oatmeal and suet (animal fat) and is mixed with stock and spices and baked as a kind of sausage, or savory pudding. Back in the day, the casing was the sheep’s stomach, conveniently to hand, but modern haggis comes in artificial casings.
And it is delicious!
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Margrit Mondavi was not a large person, nor a loud person, but when she was in the room, people knew it.
Instantly recognizable with her broad smile, huge eyes and blonde bob — Wine Country’s answer to Carol Channing — she only had to walk into a restaurant or event to set off a chain reaction of turned heads and smiles. “Oh look! Margrit’s here.” (A lot of people, including myself, never got around to calling her husband, the late, great Robert Mondavi, “Bob,” even though we were assured he wouldn’t mind, but Margrit was almost always Margrit.)
It’s a sunny Sunday morning in Edinburgh and I and some like-minded souls are gathered together in a dim basement, paying reverence to matters of the spirit. Which is to say, we’ve all got a G&T in hand having reached the sampling part of a tour of the Edinburgh Gin Distillery.
Expecting that sentence to end with something a little darker? Think again. Sure Scotland is the land of whisky, with 100+ distilleries to show for it. But it’s also a powerhouse in gin: 70 percent of British gin is made here.
Producers north of the border include heavy hitters like Tanqueray and Gordon’s, which has been made at Diageo’s Cameronbridge facility since 1998. And in 1999, William Grant & Sons introduced its Hendrick’s Gin, a milestone in gin with its new botanical elements.
Other Scottish gins of note: The Botanist, made by the Bruichladdich distillery on the island of Islay, Caorunn, made in Airdrie, Pickering’s, from Edinburgh, and GILT from Strathleven distillery and made with malt barley. And let’s not forget Shelton Reel Ocean Sent Gin, which includes native bladderwrack seaweed from the Shetland coastline. There’s even a mapped-out Gin Trail.
We went to Lesley Gracie, master distiller for Hendrick’s Gin for some industry insight.
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These are the three things everyone knows about Chianti: it’s an Italian red, it comes in cute straw-covered bottles that double as candleholders, and, at least according to one movie villain, it pairs well with fava beans and a certain type of organ meat.
We can’t speak to that last assertion, but the first two aren’t as true as you might think. Here’s what is true about the famous, and delicious, wines made under the Tuscan sun.
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What do you drink when you’re sitting on the Sound of Music lakeside terrace? An Aperol spritz, naturally. At least, that’s what I drank when I visited Salzburg recently, channeling Baroness Schraeder for all I was worth. (Sorry, Maria fans, I’m not really a tea-with-jam-and-bread kind of girl.)
Turns out Austria isn’t such a strange setting for the quintessential Italian cocktail. One version of the spritz’ genesis is that it goes back to the days when northern Italy was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and to the Austrian practice of adding a spray (spritz) of water to the regional wines, which they found a little heavy on the palate.
The Aperol side of the equation, of course, is all-Italian, part of the national tradition of bitter liqueurs. Brothers Luigi and Silvio Barbieri created Aperol in 1919, launching it at the Padua International Fair. Silvio came up with the name Aperol, inspired by the French shorthand for aperitif, apéro, which he’d discovered when visiting France.
The drink was always a bright orange …
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FLORENCE, Italy (AP) — The skies were clouding over as I strode briskly across that famous bridge, the Ponte Vecchio, ready for a productive day checking off Florentine must-sees.
Slight problem: The first museum on my list was open, but the ticket office was closed.
OK, then, on to the Uffizi Gallery. Except this time both ticket office and museum were closed; I had forgotten it was Monday.
A fine rain began to fall as I wandered listlessly past the open arches of the building next door, the statue-studded Loggia dei Lanzi. This wasn’t going at all as planned.
And then it hit me. Wait. This was the Piazza della Signoria, where novelist E.M. Forster‘s adorable Lucy Honeychurchwitnessed a stabbing moments after complaining about the dullness of life in “A Room With a View.” And those had to be THE steps where the brooding George Emerson carried Lucy’s fainting form.
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