The Mediterranean sun beats down, softened by a gentle breeze, on fruit-laden grapevines that follow the contours of the rolling terrain. Although Italian sparkling wine may not instantly bring to mind the region of Franciacorta, the eponymous drink and the fact that it is a well-kept secret make the destination ripe for the picking. With vineyards dating back to the 16th century, the area has a wine-making heritage. However Franciacorta wine itself has a relatively young history: it was only in 1961 that modern production using the metodo classico style began, creating a worthy competitor to the finest sparkling wines.
A favourable climate suits not only the grapes that provide Franciacorta wine’s signature notes of white flowers and dried fruit in its Satèn variety, but also visitors in search of a tranquil break. Enjoy strolling along the Strada del Franciacorta wine route or cycling or riding through the beautiful landscape of hillsides dotted with family-run vineyards, ancient villas and monasteries. Scenic boat tours on nearby Lake Iseo take you to traditional fishing villages on Monte Isola, where you can pair fish dishes with crisp Franciacorta Brut or taste the cherry aromas in the rosé.
Part of Lombardy, Franciacorta has a wealth of charming rustic restaurants for those who relish traditional fare but is also only an hour from vibrant Milan with its more sophisticated vibe and fashionable buzz, offering the perfect Italian experience whatever your taste. franciacorta.net ■