Located only 27km as the crow flies from Venice, Treviso has always lived in the shadow of the campanile of San Marco. For most of its life, that was a good thing. Its proximity to the capital of the great Venetian Republic meant that the government ringed it with a great defensive wall and moat which made the city impregnable. The wall is still there today and can be walked almost in its entirety.
The great ceremonial gate, the Porta San Tomaso, built in 1518 by Doge Leonardo Loredan acted as one of the two main entrances to the city, and the huge lion of Saint Mark, symbol of the Venetian Republic, leaves you in no doubt as to who was in charge.
Today the city still lives in the shadow of its neighbour. The place people are most likely to visit today is the airport, used by low-cost carriers as an alternative to Venice’s Marco Polo airport.
However, the phrase ‘pick me up in Treviso’ doesn’t only refer to the airport. It was in 1960s Treviso, at the Osterie alle Becchiere that one of the most famous Italian desserts of all time, whose name translates as ‘pick me up’ was born. I am referring of course to tiramisù.
It’s now generally accepted that tiramisù, or tiramesù to give it its original name in Trevisan dialect, was invented by chef Roberto Linguanotto in the 1960s and it even has its own website today with the original recipe and an interview with the creator who is still going strong.
I spent last weekend exploring this hidden gem of the Veneto staying in the centro storico. What I discovered was a beautiful city, which often looked like a quiet version of its more famous neighbour. In fact, much of the architecture is of the style found in Venice and there are moments when you could be forgiven for thinking that you are walking down a filled in Venetian canal, rather than a street.
There are indeed some canals in the city, many of which were once used to power the city’s many mills producing flour and later polenta for the area. Many of the water wheels are still in evidence and working in the city today.
In the centre of the city is a new fish market which sells fish from the Adriatic sea, a staple of cuisine in the Veneto.
One particular fishy delicacy in Treviso is eel (anguilla) fished right out of the river Sile which flows through the city. Today however, many eels are farmed so as to not overfish the river.
Another culinary product which is associated with Treviso is the famous radicchio di Treviso tardivo, a red chicory which is grown in such a way that it looks a bit like an octopus. You can find more information about it and pictures here.
Unfortunately the radicchio is now out of season but walking in the market I did find a huge amount of fresh peas, which were so super-sweet that I decided to buy some and take the home for lunch.
I did manage to find some radicchio however, but it was baked into a fregolotta a traditional large crumbly cookie typical to Treviso. There is evidence that these large biscuits, the name of which derives from the word for ‘crumb’, have been part of the local cuisine for about 1,000 years. I decided it would make a good pudding.
When I got back to the apartment where I was staying I decided that there was only one thing to do with the peas: risi e bisi one of the most traditional dishes of the Veneto and a perfect showcase for its peas. You can find my recipe for it here.
After lunch, and a siesta, we explored the area around the river Sile and a complex of old buildings and warehouses that has recently become a colony for the Universities of Venice and Padua.
It was a great way to pass a beautifully sunny spring afternoon before heading off for a glass of Treviso’s other famous product: prosecco. The Valdobbiadene a few km away in the province of Treviso is the leading producer of this amazing sparkling wine, which needs no introduction.
I’ll leave you with some more pictures of this amazing little town. The proximity of the low-cost airline hub makes Treviso an excellent location for a long weekend which I would thoroughly recommend.
18 thoughts on “Pick me up in Treviso”
A lovely article about this peaceful, pretty city.
Have you ever prepared eel? Are they good?
I must say that I haven’t Yvonne. I believe that they are absolutely delicious if that’s the kind of thing you like.
Non, grazie …
I must say I was happier with the peas.
Wow, a great post as ever, I can’t wait to visit Italy for the first time ever (shamefully) later this year… Intrigued how the radicchio biscuit tastes?
Thanks! I know you’re going to love it and I’m hoping to meet you! The biscuit was lovely. Slight bitter notes but it really worked.
I think I would prefer the peas to the eel also. It looks too much like a snake for my taste. Okay I know people eat snake, too. But not me.
Eel is considered a delicacy in London as well.
Michelle, you should try it because I swear it is da leccarsi i baffi 🙂
Well there’s a recommendation and a half!
You can order it in March and I’ll have a taste of yours my friend.
You have a deal!
Thank you for this inspiring post! I have flown into Treviso airport so many times, but never thought to explore the city (always on a direct path to Venice!). I’m going to spend a few days there the next time I fly in – I love tiramisu… and never knew where it came from! 🙂
So glad you liked it. Yes, you really should do that. It’s a lovely town and well worth a couple of days. Lots of wonderful bars and restaurants to explore. I only scratched the surface.
Absolutely wonderful post! Im so glad Im only a couple of weeks away from returning to Venezia as it would be unbearable to stay away after seeing these pictures. Oh and I adore eel. That fish is divine. 🙂
So glad you liked the post. Have a great time in Venice!
Great post Luca, and lovely photos. I’ve been to Treviso once, but my friend met me at the train station, we went for a pizza and then went on to her place in Fossalunga about a half hour away. All I remember was seeing part of the wall, so I’ll have to go back and stay awhile. Ciao, Cristina
Grazie Cristina! It really is worth a pop into the city centre. The first time I went there I was about 15 years ago with my Venetian cousins. We walked along the walls at night and didn’t see much at all. I wasn’t expecting much but was so pleasantly surprised by this town. I could definitely live there, and that’s saying something. Definitely worth a weekend.