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Visit the Franciacorta Wine Region

Looking to get away in Northern Italy? Want to visit somewhere off the beaten track of Lake Como? Head to the foot of the Alps to visit the small, but mighty region of Franciacorta, known for its sparkling wines and beautiful views. Fly into Milan or drive over to the southern tip of Lake Iseo. There is much to do for a weekend in the Franciacorta wine region.

What is Franciacorta wine?

Sometimes Franciacorta is compared to its cousin Prosecco, but it’s only made in a defined territory, with both DOC and DOCG recognition. While it’s somewhat young on the world stage, the wine-making traditions in the region date back to the Middle Ages. As space for vineyards is limited, there are only 116 wineries in the area. We decided to take a detour to Lombardy before our Lake Como trip and loved our time here. You can rent a car from the airport. We flew into Bergamo Airport (not MXP) which made the drive even easier. You can rent a car through with easy pick-up.

Where to Stay in Franciacorta Region

I knew I wanted a place on the water, without the price tag of Lake Como, so we headed to a small town, village really, on Lake Iseo. Clusane del Lago was the perfect stop for a weekend in Lombardy and a great base for our wine & castle tours.

I cannot rave about our B&B enough – Casitamia – it is probably my favorite place I’ve stayed in the last year! Roberta made sure every little thing was thought of, including a wonderful breakfast and great restaurant recommendations!

Best Restaurants in the Region

We enjoyed a delightful meal our first evening in a local trattoria, Antica Trattoria del Gallo, where I believe we were the only foreign tourists. The cellar dining came with plastic bibs for sauce splashes. As an American, I wasn’t sure if it was a joke, but after other diners donned the “apron” so did we! The local house wine was wonderful (and so reasonable). We enjoyed 3 courses, including their homemade desserts! I felt like we were dining at Joey Tribbiani’s house! IYKYK 😊

If you are looking for an easy lunch in the area, head to Bohem la Stazione in Paratico or Molo 31 in Predore. Ristorante Zu or Ristorante Panoramico are tasty dinner spots.

Wineries in Northern Italy (Franciacorta)

Before coming to the region, especially in the harvest season as we did in September, it’s important to book your tastings in advance. There are many different wineries to choose from, but we were unable to visit a couple on my list due to harvesting. These are my top recommendations in the area:

  1. Berlucchi – arguably the first sparkling wine of its kind from this region, Franco Ziliani and Guido Berlucchi refined the method and ultimately the product. If you only have time for one winery, this is the one to visit!

  2. Bersi Serlini – this small winery caters to weddings and private events. It was just a few minutes away from our Bnb and highly recommended. We really enjoyed the local, family-run feel with a tasting of 6 of their sparkling wines.

  3. Ca’ del Bosco – want to visit a winery surrounded by art? In the heart of Franciacorta, take a tour through the old cellars and Cupola to see one of the most modern takes on wine making in the region.

  4. Bellavista – one of the larger wineries still family-owned, they use traditional presses and a unique separation of the must.

Castles in Lombardy Region

There are castles galore in the region, so we stopped at Brescia Castle for a little break between wineries and to dry out a bit! 😊 There are a few galleries you can visit, or simply climb the gentle hills for some magnificent views. The drawbridge was quite a feat and there are larger-than-life sculptures of baboons and gorillas. If you are interested in driving a bit further for some others, head to Bergamo or even Milan. In Bergamo, Castello di Malpaga is known for its architecture. Sforza Castle in Milan offers art galleries and museums behind the fortress walls.

Beaches on Lake Iseo

There are three more well-known towns bordering the lake – Iseo, Sarnico & Lovere. If you want to visit a beach, there are several in Iseo, including La Spiaggetta and Lido Beach Resort. Sarnico has Lido Nettuno.

You can rent a boat or e-bikes to go around the lake. Casitamia rents boats for as little as €80 for a half day and e-bikes for €5/hour. If you don’t stay at the BnB, you can also rent boats from Nautica Bellini or Global Nautic.

There is so much to fill a weekend in the region. I’d say take a trip to Northern Italy and visit the Franciacorta region before it becomes overrun with tourists like Tuscany. It’s such a wonderful area to explore!


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