Long Weekend in Franciacorta, Italy

The picturesque Lake Iseo exerts a moderating influence on the climate in Franciacorta.

© Shutterstock

Lake Iseo

The picturesque Lake Iseo exerts a moderating influence on the climate in Franciacorta.

© Shutterstock

Friday

The old town of Brescia impresses with its historical buildings, cosy pubs and great flair along its winding streets. 

The wonderful old town of Brescia is emblematic of the fruitful coexistence of the old and the new, not least because the old and new cathedrals stand right next to each other. Here 'new' must be seen in the context of Italy's rich history, since the construction of the New Cathedral began in 1604. After St Peter's in Rome and the cathedral in Florence, it has the third largest dome in Italy and is rich in artistic treasures.

Brescia and Franciacorta are conveniently situated between the Prealps and the Po Valley. From Milan depending on traffic, it takes a good hour, but only 36 minutes by train. Very conveniently located is Bergamo airport which is only a stone's throw from Franciacorta.

Inspired by the mighty sacred buildings, we stroll through the narrow old town alleys to the Piazza della Loggia, the most beautiful square in Brescia. We lunch at the simple Trattoria Caprese and notice the iconic 16th century clock tower, which is represented on the logo of the Franciacorta wine region. Thus, enthused by our surroundings, we treat ourselves to our first glass of Franciacorta and it should not be the last this weekend.

Our first stop in Franciacorta itself is the Ca' del Bosco winery where we enjoy a cellar tour. Everything at the property demonstrates the love of art that owner Maurizio Zanella has; it is evident in the park as well as in some unexpected places in the modern winery. After a stimulating tasting and the purchase of sparkling souvenirs, we retire to our rooms at the wonderful hotel L'Albereta Relais Châteaux.

After an aperitif on the hotel terrace, we walk a quarter of an hour to the Ristorante da Nadia, sadly now closed. Nadia Vincenzi not only tastefully created a cosy ambience in the historic building, she also cooked great food. Fish and seafood are the specialty and her fish soup was not be missed. We accompanied our dinner - of course - with Franciacorta. 

Saturday

We take the ferry to the car-free island of Monte Isola, enjoy local delicacies at noon and fine dining in the evening. 

After an invigorating breakfast we set off for the scenic highlight of our weekend, we drive to Lake Iseo which stretches out in front of a magnificent mountain backdrop. From Sulzano we take a ferry to Monte Isola, the largest inhabited lake island in Europe. If hiking were more important to us than enjoying the local delicacies, we would walk to the sanctuary of the Madonna della Ceriola from where you can enjoy a breathtaking 360° panoramic view over Lake Iseo and Franciacorta.

But since we are more interested in the salami from Monte Isola and the local fish specialities, we are content with a short walk to the trattoria La Spiaggetta di Dalmeri Elena where we taste traditional dried sardines from Lake Iseo. 

Strictly speaking, they are not sardines at all, but twaite shad, which also can be found in other large alpine lakes. In any case, the fish, which is matured for 16 months, tastes delicious and is recognised and protected by the Slow Food Movement as a local speciality. With this we enjoy our first glass of Franciacorta of the day.

On the way back to the ferry we appreciate how slowly time moves on Monte Isola. Aside from service vehicles, there are no cars, and when contemporary artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude don't link the island to the mainland, as they did from 2014-2016 with their work of art, 'Floating Piers', then there is a wonderful, relaxing tranquility here.

We take the return ferry and refresh ourselves with a fragrant espresso in a lake shore cafe. Afterwards we go to the Berlucchi winery the cradle of Franciacorta sparkling wine production. The first bottle-fermented Franciacorta was made here in 1961 and Italian Wine Guide, Gambero Rosso, have made it their 'Winery of the Year' for 2022. We then take a culinary tour with delicacies of chef Stefano Cerveni of the Michelin-starred restaurant Due Colombe and opt for a classic guided tour of the cellar which dates back to 1680, followed by a tasting of the wines. We already knew what to expect in the evening.

In the spa area of the L'Albereta we recharge our batteries, freshen up for the culinary highlight of the weekend and drive to the Miramonti l'Altro, the gourmet flagship of the region, crowned with two Michelin stars. Top chef Philippe Léveillé, originally from France, brings together the best of both worlds: France and Italy, the sea and the mountains.

The cookery virtuoso offers three menus that nod to both tradition and innovation. We attempt the ten-course tasting menu and are completely thrilled by the creativity, the perfection and the absolutely beautiful presentation.

Sunday

On the day of our departure we tour the vineyards of Franciacorta, visit La Montina winery and enjoy one last tasting. 

After breakfast we take a short trip through the vineyards of Franciacorta and drive to La Montina winery where guests are warmly welcomed on Sundays. It is not without reason that the Bozza brothers have been awarded the Franciacorta Hospitality Award. During an impressive guided tour we pass the first gallery for contemporary art in Franciacorta and stroll through their vaulted cellar with thousands and thousands of bottles.

Paintings and sculptures by international artists accompany us on our tour through the magnificent halls and authentic cellars. At the tasting we not only sample the latest bottlings, but also a vintage vertical and delicacies from La Montina.

Our guide also shows us the Villa Baiana from the 17th century, which is a popular wedding location. The modern winery next door proves once again that old and new do not just coexist, but can also highlight each other's features. We enjoy the harmonious ambience, take a last sip of Franciacorta and set off on our journey home with numerous sparkling souvenirs in our luggage.


HOTELS

RESTAURANTS

  • Miramonti l'Altro
    Via Crosette, 34, 25062 Concesio
    miramontilaltro.it
     
  • Ristorante da Nadia (currently closed)
    Via Camillo Benso Conte di Cavour, 7, 25030 Erbusco
    ristorantedanadia.com
     
  • Due Colombe
    Via Foresti 13, 25038 Borgonato
    duecolombe.com
     
  • Cascina Doss
    Via Colombera, 15, 25049 Iseo (BS)
    cascinadoss.com
     
  • Trattoria La Madia
    Via Aquilini, 5, 25060 Brione BS, Italien
    trattorialamadia.it
     
  • Hosteria Uva Rara
    Via Foina, 42, 25040 Monticelli Brusati
    hostariauvarara.it
     
  • Trattoria la Spiaggetta (currently closed)
    Via Sensole, 26, 25050 Monte Isola

WINE

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