After two weeks of touring Germany and Austria, with their perfect planning, stream-lined organisation and cleanliness, we weren’t ready for what awaited us at the Castello di Roncade in Northern Italy.
The location is perfect for us, with my dad’s home town of Treviso just 20 minutes away; Venice a quick train ride; and the beautiful northern towns of Padua, Verona and Asolo close by. Plus, we promised ourselves we’d stay in a castle at least once on this trip.
Castello di Roncade was built in 1508 by the Giustinian family, Venetian high-flyers who ran the place for 400 years. The massive villa, and smaller quarters all surrounded by heavy stone walls, a moat, and a turreted driveway was then bought by the Ciani Bassettis, and transformed into a vineyard, with grapes grown, and wine produced and sold on-site. The head honcho, Baron Vincenzo, runs the show, and to say he is “eccentric” would be an understatement!
So, as I’ve mentioned, we’ve come from the ultra polite, conservative Austria. We enter the filigreed iron gates of the castle, and a large-bellied man with an angry scowl approaches the car, bangs on our roof, and yells “You are the Americans? One night?”
Us “Ah no. Australian. 7 nights.”
“What job do you have back home?” Seriously. Second question.
“Perfect. There is a piano concert here tonight. You can be the hosts.” Ah, no thanks!
We were then shown to a room that we were told we’d only be in for one night as someone had stuffed something up, and we’d move the next day. Thank God, as this room was dirty, with dead insects, and mouse excrement.
Next day, after we were moved to a lovely 2 story apartment with a garden and sitting room, the weird questions continued, from the man we now realised was the “Baron”. “What does your father do? Is he successful? Are you wealthy? You look wealthy. You are from Treviso? You are very beautiful”, wrapping the interrogation up with a kiss on the hand before riding around the gorgeous property on his battered push bike.
Apart from the weirdness, the incessant church clock next door bonging at all hours, and the trucks and tractors coming and going from 6am-8pm, it was a lovely stay. We didn’t have to host the piano concert in the end, but we DID get the promise of an uninvited Baron popping over to see us in Australia. Hope he brings wine, and lots of it!