After several trips to Italy to celebrate a high school graduation, 40th birthday, honeymoon, and 50th wedding anniversary we decided it was time to visit Italy to slowly sip our way through several of the northern and central wine regions easily accessed via the Milan airport.
Upon arrival we made our way to one of our favorite places in Italy, Lake Como. Located in the Lombardy region, also known as the Lake District, the region produces sparkling, Pinot Grigio, and Nebbiolo wine. Lake Como, nestled at the base of the Italian and Swiss Alps, is dotted with 24 charming villages including Bellagio, Tremezzo, Menaggio, Lecco, and Varenna. We always stay in one of the villages (Bellagio or Argengo) with water taxi service which allows us to explore the lake with ease.
While we have a penchant for Lake Como you may want to consider staying in the Bergamo or Brescia area (near Lake d’Iseo) as there is a concentration of vineyards that produce excellent sparkling and Pinot Grigio wines in this area.
Located in the northwestern corner of Italy, Piedmont, is among the leading regions for wine and is home to outstanding food set within gorgeous rolling hills with vineyards extending as far as the eye can see. Our home base for visiting this region is La Villa Hotel, a charming 15-room boutique hotel located in Mombaruzzo in the region of Asti. Unless you have a designated driver who is comfortable navigating the narrow roadways through the villages of Barbera, Barolo, Barbaresco, Asti, and Alba my recommendation is to hire a driver for your outings. The staff of La Villa are available to recommend or make arrangements for vineyard visits and driver services.
The charming hillside villages of San Gimignano, Montepulciano, and Montalcino (to name a few) dot the landscape of this pastoral countryside. Warm, gracious hospitality extends from vineyard to table. A combination of the A1 highway (connecting Florence and Rome) and two lane roads makes this area accessible for wine lovers. Our favorite villages include San Gimignano and Montepulciano, neither of which have train service directly into the village (Montepulciano has a station located outside of the village). But Tuscany is a place where you want the ability to drive and explore. From Tuscany, day trips to the Umbrian hillside villages of Assisi, Cortona, and others are easily accessible.
After several trips to Italy we finally made it to the region famous for its Parma ham and parmesan cheese. Emilia-Romagna is a food lover’s delight. After stopping for dinner on a recent trip, I would like to return to stay in the village of Rubiera at Hotel Aquila d’Oro (home to the Michelin-starred Arnaldo restaurant) or in Parma. The advantage of Hotel Aquila d’Oro is its location across from the train station which allows you to make day trips to both Parma and Bologna as it is located between the two cities (and even closer to Modena [of Balsamic vinegar fame] and Regio Emilia).
Looking for an Italian specialty tour agency? Florence-based Le Baccanti travel company will help to create a customized itinerary.
Looking for information on the Italian wine regions and vineyards? Check out Wine Folly, Wine-Searcher, and TripAdvisor. TripAdvisor provides a list and rating of wineries in each wine region which may be viewed in the “map” format allowing you to geographically pinpoint their locations.
Trying to figure out how to get from point to point within Italy? Check out Rome2Rio for help in exploring flights, trains, driving, taxi, and bus transportation options.
Mary Beth I have a passion for creating and experiencing unforgettable moments and sharing those with others. I hope that this story has helped you experience one of those moments.