Full of cultural and culinary delights, Trier was founded by the Romans in 16 BC as Augusta Treverorum and is Germany’s oldest city. The Romans left an indelible mark on the city, one of their legacies being Porta Nigra, a mighty city gate which has survived remarkably intact since the 2nd century.
As a UNESCO Heritage Site, Trier is full of monuments to the multi-faceted lifestyle once enjoyed by the Romans: the Imperial Thermal Baths was, in the 4th century, one of the largest in the entire Roman Empire. Today you can admire the baths at ground level or explore the underground complex. The old Amphitheatre used to hold a crowd of 20,000 while today it is an lovely, authentic setting for summer concerts. Other similarities between Trier and Rome spring to mind: Rome is on the Tiber, Trier is on the Moselle. Also, Trier has long been an influential religious centre, which can be seen in the majestic St Peter’s Cathedral, Germany’s oldest bishopric, as well as the gothic Liebfrauenkirche. Trier is the birthplace of Karl Marx and the house in the old town where he was born has been turned into a museum.
So far you’ve had a full helping of culture and history … now let’s get this show on the road! It’s only 45 kilometres to Piesport, but long enough for several loops to test the driver’s mettle: first and foremost the 180-degree hairpin between the wine towns of Leiwen and Trittenheim. Between the curves, marvel at the steep hillsides either side of the river which are surely the signature features of this leg.
After arriving in Piesport, admire the reconstructed 4th century Roman fermentation system for an insight into the history of the ancient craft of wine-making. Weingut Reinhold Haart is a modern producer who sets the highest local and international standards of quality.
Leaving Piesport, we turn off the main road (the B53) along the river to Minheim and continue on the L50, a winding scenic road above the river with stellar panoramic views across the sweeping curves of the river. This leg is a gorgeous 25-kilometre trip and leads you to Bernkastel-Kues.
Bernkastel-Kues is a true gem on the river with a must-see historical old town bursting with fairy-tale half-timbered houses and a lively marketplace where St Michael’s Fountain and the renaissance Rathaus are well worth a closer look.
The list of wine producers in and around Berncastel-Kues reads like a Who’s Who of the German wine industry. A few may sound familiar, such as Schloss Lieser, Dr Loosen or Joh Jos Prüm. The mission here is clear: find a hotel, park the car and find the nearest wine bar.
A great way to get a feel for the local wine industry is to visit the multimedia Moselle Wine Museum which has a wine bar and shop with around 160 wines on offer. Another option is to visit the local vineyards, many of which have tasting rooms where you can enjoy the wine, get some local insights and have a friendly chat.
After all the wine-tasting, round off your visit with a stylish overnight stay at the Burgblick Hotel.