The first time I went to Veneto was in 2010, to visit my very dear friend Stefi in her home town. One day, while hiking around the Dolomites I saw a group of cyclists conquering those magnificent serpentines in the hills. Ever since, I have wanted to go back. And cycle on those beautiful roads. But I knew I had to get fit enough first.
I cycle all the time and train a fair bit. Still it took me some time to feel confident enough to go for those hills. And this year, I though – let’s do it. It was supposed to be a long Bank holiday weekend all about cycling, exploring Veneto’s hills, the Prosecco valley and Toscana, about wine, food and breathtaking scenery. And it was. Just as cycling in the heat, in those hills was taking our breaths away, literally.
We flew into Treviso and we were based there for the first half of the trip. Treviso is a lovely town close to Venice but much less touristy. You can easily and quickly nip to Venice if you wish to see the Bienalle for example. Also it is the place where tiramisu was invented (at least one of the legends says so). A friend recommended it and now I am. It is a great place to base yourself and explore the Prosecco region from there – Conegliano, Valdobiaddene, Asolo… and it is incredible for cycling. You can always opt in for driving around, it is as stunning.
Also, the route of Gran Fondo prosecco takes place in September every year- it’s a round route from Conegliano to Valdobiaddene. The region is basically in the bottom of the Dolomites, where those beautuful mountains start to rise, roads start to curls and and views are all worth admiring, while sipping a cheeky glass of prosecco.
The other route was about Asolo, which is also called the “Town of a hundred horisons”. The clue is in the name, it sits on a hilltop and the view from there are gorgeous. And the town itself is very charming, beautifully preserved and a great place to have lunch, spritz or gelato.
I am preparing a separate post on the actual cycling in the region, the routes, restaurants, wineries and so on but in this post let’s focus on the soup that I made yesterday, as the first homage to this trip.
This post’s recipe is inspired by a dish from Toscana though, where we continued our trip. We based ourselves in Firenze as my mates hadn’t been in the city before and then the plan was to cycle south towards the Chianti Classico region. So we switched from bubbles to some quality red.
One of the wineries we visited – Antinori Chianti Classico, has a restaurant on a hilltop. We had a well deserved pit-stop there, admired the architecture of the winery itself, enjoyed the wine and had some fantastic food. So this soup is inspired by this place, although I have updated it ever so slightly. Instead of borlotti beans I went for chickpeas, and I used faro dicoco instead of barley. But you may as well use any type of beans, and or grains you prefer. Or you can make it without grains if gluten intolerant.
It has all the traits of a typical Italian dish – it is simple, with a few (good quality) ingredients, fairly easy to make and it is flavoursome and nourishing above all. Buon appetito!
- 400g cooked chickpeas
- 150g raw farro
- 2 carrots
- 4-5 medium tomatoes
- 1 medium onion
- 1 small leek
- 2 garlic cloves
- 2 celery sticks
- a few fresh rosemary sprigs
- 1 tbsp extra vergine olive oil
- sea salt and pepper to taste