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Italian meander ends in Treviso

Treviso, Italy, where Dottie and I spent the final two weeks of our sojourn, is sometimes called “Little Venice” because it is surrounded by water and looks a little like the bigger, more famous city nearby. Every day as we strolled through the town’s narrow, winding streets, criss-crossing canals, I kept thinking, “There’s got to be fish in that water.”

I never saw a single angler. Had I been a resident with access to a fly rod, I’d have at least tested my hypothesis that with that much water, there has to be some fish.

Unlike Venice, in Treviso the water isn’t salt. It comes cold and fresh from the Sile River which emerges from springs in the nearby hills. Romans built the original city on its banks, fortified it and built canals into which they diverted some of the river water. They also built a deep moat around the city walls for further protection.

Most of what the Romans built is either buried or was replaced during the Middle Ages, when Treviso was a very important crossroads in this part of Italy.

The old part of the city inside the walls has a distinctly medieval look and feel, with narrow winding streets and alleys, hidden piazzas and ancient churches – once the center of village life, but now mostly quiet save for the faithful few. Some have been turned into museums and art galleries.

The canals bring the Sile’s waters through the 15th-century walls and cut through the middle of old part of town past ancient structures rising out of the water, like those one sees in Venice. In fact there are places that look so much like its larger cousin, that you’d swear it is an actual suburb of Venice.

While I had previously arranged for fishing further north in Bassano del Grappa, I hadn’t anticipated fishing in Treviso. Unfortunately, there were no fly shops or tackle stores in the city from which I could rent a fishing rod. But several local residents confirmed that there are fish in the river and canals and some people do catch them, but I didn’t see anyone angling during my stay.

Nevertheless, right in the middle of several intersecting canals, I found a small island reserved for commercial anglers to sell their catch.

Few, if any, fish come from the waters inside the city walls. In fact, salt-water fish, caught that morning in the nearby Adriatic Sea, dominated the offerings. Some of the mongers offered trout but admitted that they were from a nearby farm/hatchery, not from the local river.

Still, the Size River and the canals that ran virtually within a few blocks of our apartment looked very fishable to me. Had I had room for my rod, or been able to borrow one from a local, I would have given it a try.

Dottie and I did spend parts of a few days in Venice, a half-hour train ride away from Treviso. Because there are no cruise ships currently stopping there and the number of international visitors is down because of Covid, Venice was pleasantly walkable with no heavy crowds to impede casual strolling. Most of the shops, restaurants, and museums were open and the majority of visitors were Italian.

We were always happy to return to our vacation rental apartment in much smaller and quieter Treviso, a charming city with friendly inhabitants that take a great deal of pride in their home.

Many residents live and work in the immediate suburbs surrounding the old city walls, and then come into the city’s main piazzas on weekends to meet with friends and dine. Most of the bars and restaurants have more outside seating than inside. On weekends the piazzas were crowded late into the evening, as families with children lingered over wine, grappa or espresso and spent time with their friends.

TIRAMISU, that delicious Italian dessert, was introduced to the world in Treviso in the 1960s. We were in the city for the annual Tiramisu World Cup Competition. Sampling Tiramisu at Le Beccherie restaurant, where the “dole” was first introduced in the 1960s. (BIll Lynch/Index-Tribune)
TIRAMISU, that delicious Italian dessert, was introduced to the world in Treviso in the 1960s. We were in the city for the annual Tiramisu World Cup Competition. Sampling Tiramisu at Le Beccherie restaurant, where the “dole” was first introduced in the 1960s. (BIll Lynch/Index-Tribune)

The one big event we enjoyed there was the “Tiramisu World Cup,” featuring young chefs from all over the country in a contest to see who could make the best version of this delicious Italian dessert.

In fact tiramisu was introduced to the world at the Le Beccherie here in the 1960s, and we had dinner one night at LeBeccherie, which has become an upscale and popular place to dine in Treviso. The dinner was good, and of course we had tiramisu for dessert.

The food and the people were the highlights of our stay. We came home to Sonoma a few pounds heavier, but with many wonderful memories. If you are considering a trip to northern Italy and want avoid the crowds that are sure to return to Venice, consider Treviso.

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