Soave is a cute medieval walled town built on a hill with a castle at the top. It’s also known for its yummy white wine. And since it’s fall here in Italy, that means that every town is throwing a sagra for something pretty much every weekend. These sagre (festivals) celebrate everything from pumpkins to wine to cheese.
This weekend we decided to check out the one in Soave, since it was free, and who doesn’t like wine? The day was kind of miserable, but we drove the hour or so and had the usual parking battle (executed beautifully by our neighborfriend and driver, Erin).
Set up outside the wall was a long row of vendors selling just about everything. Handmade wooden decorations, chocolate, wind-chimes shaped like owls, and even some as-seen-on-TV items that are really 3 items in one.
Inside the wall were plenty more vendors, but there was a surprising lack of actual WINE vendors. During a sudden downpour, we ran into a restaurant for cover and got big glasses of Soave (that’s the name of the wine, too) for €2 each. By the time we finished them, the rain had stopped and we walked back toward the main entrance because there really wasn’t much to see inside the wall.
But then we saw a wine booth thing! Hooray, just what we were looking for! The sign showed the prices and the different types of Soave they had to offer. There were about a dozen different wineries represented. We paid €3 each, and the ladies (who spoke no English) gave us each a little wine glass in a pouch and a card. She explained through hand gestures that we needed to bring our glasses over to the bar area.
“Sweet,” we thought. “It’s like a tasting! We’ll get to try the wine from each winery!” We slapped our cards on the bar and the guy pulled out a bottle. “Coffele,” he said. We nodded enthusiastically and he poured our glasses. Then we went and sat at a recently-dried table and enjoyed our tiny glasses of wine.
We finished our wine and were ready to try the next one on the list, so Erin was the brave one and went up first. The bartender guy pointed back to the ticket booth, indicating that we would have to pay again. I’m sorry, but did we really just pay €3 for one half-sized glass of wine? You can get a whole bottle for less than that. And we didn’t even want the stupid tiny glasses.
In short, it was a huge ripoff. But since we’d still managed to drink a couple glasses of wine within about 20 minutes, we were feeling pretty good and promptly found a playground.
After goofing around for a while we got ready to leave because really, this thing is kind of a bummer. As we were walking past the main gate to go back to the car, we found a wine fountain. A wine, fountain. No, it was a big barrel with a little Bacchus face spout. That sign says “Fontana del vino. Bicchieri €1,00. ….E si beve a volontà.” That roughly means, “Fountain of wine. Cup €1… and you drink as much as you want.”
So instead of leaving we paid €1 each and filled and refilled our tiny plastic cups (they wouldn’t let us use our stupid wine glasses) until we felt we’d had enough. It was quite a few. And Erin used her wine glass anyway.