Blog WHS Visits

WHS #747: The Prosecco Hills

I was badly in need of a weekend trip to Italy after 1.5 years of drought on that usually enjoyable travel front. I had hoped for a positive evaluation of Bologna for the 2020/2021 WHC session, as the university city itself appealed to me (the Porticoes not so much). But that wasn’t the case and I turned instead to the Prosecco Hills, my last remaining ‘tick’ in Italy. The Prosecco Hills lie in the foothills of the Alps. So far up north this isn’t the elegant, bright, artistic and life-loving Italy anymore. It’s more like an Austrian/German farmers’ region, with restaurant menu’s heavy on game meat.

I stayed overnight in the city of Vittorio Veneto, easy to reach by train from Venice. It lies directly to the northeast of the inscribed area of the Prosecco Hills. Which leads me to point out the terrible quality of the map belonging to this WHS. Only when you zoom in to the max and have great eyes, you’ll know what is inscribed and what isn’t.

For my WHS visit I took a bus to Follina, some 25km further along road SP635/SP4 a.k.a. the “Strada del Prosecco”. Bus 117 leaves Vittorio Veneto every 1.5 – 2 hours daily. I got out in the town center. Follina has a few picturesque old houses and a large basilica, which is being restored at the moment. This town as well as all the others of a size above a rural village are excluded from the core zone.

I then walked for a bit in the direction of the hills to the left of the road. Most are covered by forest, there are few patches here and there with intricately woven vines and a small shed next to it. On this side of the hill, the locals surely did not go out of their way to clear the forest or beat the steep hilltops into submission to create vineyards. The other side of the ridge may be more impressive from that perspective, but without a car it is hardly doable to reach them.

Established where the core zone is – Check. Now what to look out for to see its OUV? It’s not enough to look at some grapevines. The explanations given in the AB evaluation and nomination dossier dazzle you with scientific terms : these aren’t ordinary rocky ridges but “hogback hills” instead. If you weave your vines in a specific pattern, that’s called bellussera. And ciglioni aren’t a regional type of pasta but narrow grassy terraces. It did not convince me at all and I cannot conclude differently than this is Italy’s worst WHS.

This site could almost have been added to our connection Controversial at inscription. It received a “Not to inscribe” advice from ICOMOS in 2018, but that was argued back to a Referral by the WHC. Surprisingly, ICOMOS returned with a positive advice a year later. The superficial changes made include a focus on the rural landscape instead of the viticultural aspects. Also, the core zone was diminished to only include a mostly uninhabited ridge.   

Els - 25 July 2021

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Esteban Cervantes Jiménez 27 July 2021

Of course cannot comment on the site, of which already everything has been said and I haven't visited. Definitely winegrowing landscapes have become a bloated category (and probably prepare to see non-European growing sites in the next years, at least South African ones are in the TL). Though I really really really love cultural landscapes, I don't know the effect so many inscribed sites of a similar category would have on me.

just wanted to add that I bought a Prosecco spumante for last Christmas (for our two-person, Covid times, dinner) and it was really an excellent choice, will also buy it for future events. Don't know if this one was from grapes grown in the core zone, but still was a great detail thinking that it might. I love white over red wines and I enjoyed this one.

Zoë Sheng 27 July 2021

Local cheeses or cured meats are a good alternative ;)

Els Slots 26 July 2021

I don't drink wine, Astraftis, so sites like these are really a pain for me to cover.

Astraftis 25 July 2021

If we have understood the trend of the current WHC, be prepared to soon come back to porticoed Bologna! :-P
Anyway, did you try the prosecco itself? Was it good? Could be the most OUV thing of the site...