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Nestled between mountains, where crystal clear streams tumble down through glades of flowers and verdant forest, you'll find Cison di Valmarino - a fantasy world in which even Bambi would feel at home.
Then you discover there's a town in the midst of it all.
Most towns would struggle to live up to the beauty of its surroundings. Not here. Here this little town makes the whole picture even better.
It's simply perfect.
No ugly modern buildings or such here. Only a town looking exactly as it did 200 years ago and much of it is as it must have 400 + years ago.
You can see people love their town. Everywhere is spotlessly clean, buildings are maintained to look as they originally looked, flower-boxes overflow with flowers and every garden grows some of the healthiest and tastiest looking vegetables you'll ever see.
Now you'd think that such a wondrous little place would be overflowing with tourists?
Last time we visited was mid-July. There was not a single foreign tourist anywhere and only a couple of Italian families.
The town is happy and prosperous and, although locals are delighted to share their home and offer a warm welcome to the few visitors who stumble upon this haven of peace and tranquility, they'd not be happy if half the world turned up on their doorstep.
That's why this real little gem is in this section – let's keep it our secret.
Take your time, rushing is just not the way things are done here.
Let's start with a visit to some of the churches: the main one in the piazza dates back to the 17th century and contains some beautiful paintings and statues.
My favorite though is the tiny San Vito Chapel. On a hot day of blinding sunlight, with the sound of ciccadas buzzing in my ears, I retreat into the cool dark interior and find my heart beat immediately slows; worries and cares seem to melt away as I kneel at one of the deserted pews and pray. The feeling of finding peace and God is indescribable.
There are also three museums: one in the Castelbrando Castle (more about the castle further on) is dedicated to suits of armor and medieval finery , another is all about the history of radio - my husband liked it, I went shopping instead. The last is dedicated to religious art.
Old buildings abound; most important is the 16th century municipal building, once the palatial home of an important family from Florence, the Casoni's. There are also old mills and much else. The little cottages scattered throughout the town in golden stone are, to me, loveliest of all.
Definitely explore the surrounding countryside, there are gorgeous walks through the forests and you're also on the edge of the Valdobbiadene area, known as the Prosecco Wine Route. There are a few tours leaving from Venice but my advice is to hire your own car and explore yourself - to help you plan will find a list of all the wineries on www.Prosecco.it.
Where to Stay? On one of the hills just outside the town stands the imposing 15th century Castelbrando. It is now a luxury hotel and, if you've way more money than me, and can afford a stay then it really is worthwhile – I was given a tour around the place and WOW – it is incredible. When I win the lottery I'm booking myself in for a week of pampering.
If your budget, like mine, is more limited then the Secret Garden of Villa Marcello Marinelli is a very good alternative.
Nearby, a little to the south, is Rolle – a gorgeous hamlet with a 14th century church – you could just spend forever sitting here in the little town square, looking out over the rolling hills of vineyards and thinking you've died and gone to heaven.
Nothing in Tuscany can beat this.
Do take a drive to San Boldo, through the incredible six tunnels built by soldiers in 1918. It is rated as one of the most spectacular drives on earth and the history behind the tunnels is fascinating...
They completed the work in 100 days and it was all done by hand.
It is one of the most awesome drives I've ever been on - although I have to admit I was just a passenger, my husband drove and I just gasped at the unbelievable scenery.
Drive slowly though as the bends are very tight and the tunnels narrow.
Definitely eat at the Osteria al Ponte in 4, Via Dall'Oglio for a taste of the traditional dishes of the area. The history of this land is in every bite.
Most of chef Mamma Emanuela's recipes are those of her nonna (grandmother) and she wouldn't dare change a thing or she'd risk the family's wrath. Anyway, why would you change dishes that are just perfect? No long menus here either, just whatever is in season.