Chocolate eggs, the typical colomba and big family parties are not the only Easter traditions in Valpolicella. Thanks to the famous event Palio del Recioto, the perfect wedding between sport and good wines takes place every year in Negrar: an historical competition, which enchants local people, wine producers and young international athletes.
Everything started more than half a century ago, when in 1953 the first edition of the Palio del Recioto took place. At the beginning, the main goal of this event was to promote the area of Valpolicella and its wines. At that time, Recioto was still the most famous and traditional product of this region. However, during the 90s the worldwide renowned Amarone took over the main role of the Recioto. This is the reason why today the complete name of the event is Palio del Recioto e dell’Amarone, paying tribute to Valpolicella greatest wines. But the Palio is not just about wines. Since 1961 the Gran Premio Palio del Recioto, an international cycling competition for under-23 athletes, has added a sporting touch to this amazing food and wine event.
As already said, the competition started out in the 50s when Recioto, the sweet red wine of Verona, was the most representative wine in Valpolicella. And to be honest, for us — the people who were born and raised in Valpolicella — today it still is the wine we are fondest of. Produced by the Romans more than 2000 years ago using the same technique we are using nowadays (the so-called appassimento), Recioto owes its name to the dialect word recie (ears): the outermost berries of the clusters. These berries, kissed by the sun more than any other part of the bunch, turned out to be perfectly ripe and very sugary. The perfect ones to produce Recioto.
After World War Two, Recioto was the most expensive and well-known wine in Valpolicella. This is the reason why the Palio was and still is dedicated to this great red dessert wine. Since the 50s, wineries from Valpolicella Classica have taken part in this event. During the competition, producers let visitors taste their Recioto and hope to win the first prize of the Palio. Beyond doubt, Recioto is the indisputable protagonist of this event — however, it is not the only one.
Actually, the Palio is also about food, culture and cycling. The 67th edition — which took place on April, 20th-23rd 2019 — was a mix of:
Last but not least, 172 young cyclists attended the famous 4-and-a-half-hour cycle race on April the 23rd, bringing with them fans and supporters from different parts of the world. A great opportunity to give an international touch to a very local and traditional event.
The best way to get ready for the next edition of the Palio is learning about Valpolicella history, culture and wines (especially the sweet one): and there is no better way to do so than spending a wonderful afternoon with us on our A taste of Valpolicella tour!