You might have read the title of this blog post and thought, Francia-what? If you did, I don't blame you. I had no idea the Franciacorta region existed until a few months ago. Luckily, I found out about it, and now, here we are, with me telling you why you need to visit this area ASAP.
I recently spent time in the region, so I can attest that this place and this wine (the name Franciacorta refers to both) are, in some ways, hidden gems and most definitely underrated. It's not as well known as its Italian cousin, Prosecco, but it should be. In fact, it should be even more known due to it being Prosecco's fancier relative. Fortunately, the region is working on its expansion, so I have a feeling the world will know Franciacorta soon.
So, what's so special about this place? Well, I have a few answers that come to mind. Here they are, in no particular order...
1. It's classic (as in classic method) - One of the fun facts I learned during my time in Franciacorta is that this area is one of three main European regions that produce wine using the classic or traditional method. This means it involves secondary fermentation. The most well-known region that uses this method is Champagne in France, and the other is Cava in Spain. There is, however, a large difference in size — the Champagne region is 11 times the size of Franciacorta, so it is definitely a David and Goliath situation. That being said, the sparkling wine in Franciacorta is of the highest quality, just as you would find in France.
2. Beautiful views - While in Franciacorta, my friend and I spent the day cycling around the area from vineyard to vineyard. Along the way, we stopped dozens of times to capture the gorgeous beauty around us. There's something about acres (or hectares as it would be called in Italy) of vines, rolling hills and perfectly weathered villas that makes one want to capture as much as they can. I had a few Under the [Franciacorta] Sun moments where I would picture myself buying a dilapidated villa, fixing it up and inviting loved ones over for endless Italian meals. Never say never, right? Diane Lane did it; so can I.
3. Proximity to the Lake District - Not too far from Franciacorta is beautiful Lake Iseo. It's perhaps not as glamorous and well known as Lake Como and Lake Garda, but it still is stunning and well worth visiting if you're in the area. You can get nice views from the water if you take the ferry between the various towns. My friend and I journeyed from Iseo to Monte Isola and back, and enjoyed amazing views along the way. We also passed people swimming in the lake, so it's a great option to escape the heat if you visit during the summer months. Overall, it's a nice way to spend a few hours and feel like you're living "la dolce vita!"
4. Proximity to Milan - About an hour away from Franciacorta is the glamorous fashion city of Milan. I've mentioned this before and the same can be said today — Milan is a great city to visit and is one of my favorite places in Italy. There's not much for tourists to do when you compare it to cities like Venice, Florence and Rome, but I still feel it's very much worth visiting. If you do decide to visit, it's fairly easy to get to Franciacorta from Milan, and vice versa. There are ways to get there by train, though my friend and I drove and found that to be the easiest and most direct way. You can simply fly or take the high speed train into Milan and then go from there.
5. All the sparkling wine - It goes without saying, but I feel I should say this anyway — one of the reasons (the most important reason, in my opinion) to visit Franciacorta is because it is the land of sparkling wine. Really amazing sparkling wine. The most well known vineyards are Bellavista, Ca 'Del Bosco and Monte Rossa. However, I spent some time at Corteaura and Contadi Castaldi and had really wonderful sparkling wine there as well, so I highly recommend those vineyards if you ever visit Franciacorta.
So, have I convinced you yet? If not, just trust me, Franciacorta is a must-visit destination. Just make sure you have a designated driver.