Autumn in the Prosecco Hills
It's fall here in the Prosecco Hills of northeastern Italy. We're just outside Farra di Soligo, a village about 30 miles northwest of Venice. This region is known for growing the glera grape used to make the white wine called prosecco. Once a humble sparkling wine, and considered a poor cousin to Champagne, prosecco now eclipses Champagne in global popularity. More than 600 million bottles of prosecco were produced in Italy in 2018, about twice the amount of Champagne.
Of those 600 million bottles produced a year, about 90 million bottles of prosecco come from the Prosecco Hills region. Like most Italian grape-growing areas, the Prosecco Hills boast a spectacular landscape. Small plots of grapes have grown on narrow grassy terraces known as 'ciglioni' since the 17th century. From above, the ciglioni produce a checkerboard effect with vines growing both horizontally along and vertical to the hillsides. Some plots even use the 19th-century 'bellussera' technique of training the grapevines to grow up along trees. This region is so distinctive, it was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2019.
Between the Lakes and the Dales
Nestled between the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District, the smooth rounded shapes and steep gills (ravines) of the Howgill Fells capture an eye-catching pattern of light and shade. These ancient hills, formed more than 400 million years ago, have remained a largely settlement-free zone, uncrossed by roads and untouched by development. Trees are scarce on the high ground, where sheep and wild ponies graze and small streams tumble down dark, narrow gullies and the panoramic views from the fells are a sight worth climbing for. The highest point is the top of The Calf, at 2,218ft (676m), from where hikers can enjoy a 20-mile skyline of the Lakeland peaks, the Yorkshire Three Peaks and the nearer Howgill peaks.
Part of the range sits within Yorkshire Dales National Park, although they are actually in the county of Cumbria. The Howgill Fells’ striking appearance was perhaps best summed up by the famed fell walker and guide book author A. Wainwright as “sleek and smooth, looking from a distance like velvet curtains in sunlight, like silken drapes at sunset … a remarkable concentration of summits often likened to a huddle of squatting elephants”.