The wine district of Franciacorta is the reign of Italian bubbles. Since the 1960s, excellent sparkling wines have been produced here using metodo classico, and today there are over 100 wineries where grapes are lovingly hand-harvested and visitors are welcomed to taste their unique products.
The territory is rich in historic, cultural and enogastronomic attractions and the proximity to Milan (just about one hour drive away) and the natural beauties of Lake Iseo make Franciacorta an excellent weekend getaway.
Here’s a brief guide to the top places for a weekend in Franciacorta:
The best wineries to visit in Franciacorta
This is the winery where the first Franciacorta bottles were produced back in 1961, hence it’s a must-visit. Back then, Mr Berlucchi was a landowner looking for a consultant to improve his Pinot del Castello wine and little did he expect that his encounter with the young oenologist Franco Ziliani would completely change the history of this corner of Italy. The Franciacorta wine was the result of their experimentation to produce sparkling wines just like the French were doing, in a land historically dedicated to still wines, and today Franciacorta is considered one of the world’s finest wines. The cellars of Berlucchi’s historic winery, dating from the 17th century, are located 10 metres underground and are home to the last remaining bottle of that first Franciacorta bottle produced in the 1960s. Visitors can choose from three different types of tastings, all guided by an expert sommelier, while Palazzo Lana, the family’s historic residence, can only be visited during special events or through customized programs.
Ca' del Bosco
The Ricci Curbastro family has been working in the wine and farming industry for generations and their history is well retraced in the museum of agriculture and wine that can be visited in their estate. They produce about 80,000 bottles of sparkling wine per year, with one of their most prestigious being the Museum Release, which undergoes a longer aging in cellars. Ricci Curbastro is the first winery in Franciacorta to be entirely sustainable, and received the organic certification in 2018. On top of the winery and the museum, the estate comprises a farmhouse with eight delightful apartments and a small shop selling anything from historic maps to antique home decor. There are four types of tours available, each including a wine tasting session.
Where to eat in Franciacorta
Locanda al Lago
Hostaria Uva Rara
Osteria Quattro Rose
The main draw of this little restaurant in the historic center of Rovato is its extensive wine list, featuring over 400 bottles, hence it’s no surprise that the owners like to describe it as a winery with a kitchen. The signature dish here is manzo all’olio di Rovato, one of Franciacorta’s regional delights, consisting of a tender pot-roasted beef cooked in extra virgin oil and served with polenta. The menu largely comprises traditional dishes such as grilled sun dried sardines from Monte Isola and traditional Brescia-style ravioli with melted butter and sage. The setting is lovely, with tables both in the indoor dining room, under a vault covered in intriguing artworks, and in the garden outside.
Where to sleep in Franciacorta
L’Albereta is a luxury 5-star relais set in a beautiful 19th-century villa, just a short drive from Lake Iseo. The hotel’s 57 rooms are uniquely decorated with a superb design that visually captures guests at first sight, and are equipped with countless details that speak of care and attention. The room to book for a truly unforgettable experience is the Cabriolet Suite, which features an opening ceiling that allows guests to watch the stars from their bed. Available to guests are an exclusive spa that offers a top-notch wellness experience, a gourmet restaurant specializing in Italian cuisine and a pizzeria by the famous pizza maker Franco Pepe. L’Albereta’s location on top of a hill guarantees spectacular views over the vineyards of Franciacorta, while its splendid centenary park provides suggestive corners to relax immersed in nature.
With an idyllic position on the banks of Lake Iseo, this charming hotel is housed in a historic family estate that is personally managed by the owners. There are only 29 rooms, most including balconies with beautiful lake views, as well as a charming suite overlooking the swimming pool and the surrounding scenery. Part of the hotel’s appeal sits beyond its four walls: the centenary park sprawls over 70 acres of old trees and colorful plants, while the sparkling swimming pool provides the perfect place to soak up the sun, with views out over the extraordinary scenery. The onsite restaurant serves regional specialties, with fresh fish featuring heavily on the menu, and in summer months guests can dine on a panoramic open-air terrace.
Le Quattro Terre
Le Quattro Terre is a lovely agriturismo immersed in the verdant hills and vineyards of Franciacorta. The setting is a beautiful 18th-century farmhouse that has been carefully restored to retain the basic historical structure of the building, seen in the characterful wooden beams and the beautiful vaulted brick ceilings. Guests can bed down in one of the 11 rooms, all spacious and elegantly decorated with soft tones, featuring lovely views over the surrounding countryside. The dishes served at the on-site restaurant are mainly expression of the regional culinary traditions of the area, with specialties like risotto with Franciacorta wine, artichokes, brook trout and mint oil, and sturgeon served with lentils and Lake Iseo sardines sauce. Also, the hotel produces its own wine and guests can enjoy tours of the vineyards and the cellars during their stay.