Forget about the sandy beaches and bikini-clad beauties of Rio de Janeiro, and instead picture the rolling hills of Italy’s Piedmont region. In the late 1800s, southern Brazil experienced a mass influx of Italian immigrants, primarily from northern Italy. The largest and most important wine region in the country, Serra Gaúcha and its Denominación de Origen, Vale dos Vinhedos, now account for almost 90% of Brazil’s fine wine production. These green hills, dotted with wineries, hotels and restaurants, attract approximately 150,000 visitors per year. Italian cuisine is prominent, and many aged residents speak an almost-lost Venetian dialect interspersed with Portuguese.
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