The land where Valpolicella DOC wine is produced spreads out fan-like over a number of small valleys, sloping down towards the hills that lead to the city of Verona.
The various different types of highlands are covered in red and white blossoms in the spring, then everything becomes green from May to September, with autumn giving way to pinkish yellows and reds, while winter brings on its dark brown colours; all of this is interspersed with parks of evergreens and clusters of cypress trees. The latter dot the entire landscape, alternating between the white stone of the hamlets and towns, some of which are scattered here and there, while others are closely tight-knit and all huddled together.
Even if the urban build-up of the last few decades has filled the bottoms of the valleys with residential neighbourhoods and artisans workshops, if you go up a couple of hundred metres you will find the traditional types of housing indigenous to Valpolicella: villas, farm yards and courtyards, isolated houses, sometimes with their own cypress tree, and even further up, the small hamlets all in stone with the houses in direct line with the sun’s path.
From a height of 65 metres a.s.l. to 1,500 metres a.s.l., the landscape of the Corno D’Aquilio mountain takes on an abundant variety of agricultural forms. From the top and peaks that emerge from various highlands, the view encompasses the Padana plain towards Lake Garda, with evocative panoramas that when it is very clear go include a wide swathe of the Appennine mountains.
Other areas of coppiced woodlands can be seen to the south and along the valleys, especially in the early spring and autumn.
Except for the steepest slopes and impossible to reach coves, the woods have given over to orchards and vineyards, while animal farming, something which has considerably diminished in the last few decades, has brought a decrease in natural and cleared meadows up to a height of about 700 m.
The move towards modern types of cultivation has not altogether eliminated the signs of earlier traditional agricultural methods: still extant and functioning are the dry stone walls, the so-called “marogne”, and here and there trees can be seen along the rows of the vineyards, which testify to their use in the past as supports for the vineyards.
Along the roads stone tanks can been seen, in which verdigris was prepared, and stone huts that served as tool sheds, along with a scattering of hunting lodges and protruding stairs for access to the steeper terraces. You may even see some religious shrines and wooden crosses at the head of the rows of vineyards. Further up, and again in stone, are the manure tanks in the ground and fencing systems for the fields and poles to hold up vines.
Next to a small hollow facing north and half-hidden in the ground, you may even stumble upon an icehouse or a water tank.