Heading into an Italian wine region with just 24 hours to spare? Here’s how to make the most of your time in four stunning wine-producing areas around the country.
The Langhe - © Francesca Cappa
Valerie Quintanilla, an American living in Piedmont, offers Barolo and Barbaresco wine tour programs and chronicles her wine and travel tips at Girl’s Gotta Drink. “There are so many incredible places to eat in the Langhe,” she says of the famed wine region. “Start the morning in Alba with a cappuccino and brioche at Cafe Teatro. Then, for lunch or dinner try the region’s incredible fassone veal sottofilleto and pretty much the best roast potatoes you’ll ever have at Vinoteca Centro Storico in the village of Serralunga d’Alba. For a rustic, traditional meal, enjoy being stuffed senseless at Osteria dei Sognatori in Alba. For an amazing glass of wine and local specialty aperitivo munchies, visit Cinciallegra in the Barbaresco village of Neive.”
Piedmont is home of the 'king of wines', Barolo and so naturally is also home to some of the very best wineries in the country. It is without a doubt the top Italian wine region. Discover this great area with one of our personalized day tours!
Entrance to Historic Centre in Lecce - © Aaron Peterson
“Leone de Castris is among the leading wineries of the Salice Salentino area, with a nice range of wines made from the local Negroamaro and Primitivo di Manduria grapes, and there is lots to see within a 30-kilometer radius,” says Mette Vaabengaard, who writes about food and travel in Italy for Italian Notes and knows Puglia well. “Visit the beautiful Baroque city of Lecce and take a break at Caffé Alvino on Piazza Sant'Oronzo to sample one of the famous pasticiotto custard pies. On the way, stop at Folie restaurant in Novoli. People interested in art and hippie culture should visit the art commune Vincent City in Guagnano, while fans of Italian pop music might get a kick out of seeing the singer Al Bano's estate and bar/restaurant in Cellino San Marco.” Meanwhile, the coastline is not to be missed. “There are beautiful beaches all along the coast of Salento. If I am in the mood for quiet waters and endless sand, I'll go to Punta Prosciutto by the Ionian Sea, or a swim at Isola dei Conigli, which is just a 10-minute boat ride from the center of town.”
Porto Ercole - © Doriano Jaroudi
Australian food writer Emiko Davies has been living in Tuscany for 12 years, and spent part of that living in Porto Ercole, on the coast in the Maremma region. Earlier this year, she released a cookbook, Acquacotta, documenting the recipes of this seaside area that she knows so well. “For a morning pastry, I would head to the lagoon town of Orbetello and go directly to Antica Pasticceria Ferrini for their infamous tette di monache – appropriately called "nuns' breasts" for their remarkable likeness that might make some blush – they are impossibly soft, white, pillowy pastries, filled with custard,” she says. “For lunch, drive to a small, pebbly beach with turquoise waters called La Soda – it's halfway between Orbetello and Porto Santo Stefano – and enjoy a meal, right by the water, at I Due Pini. Don't skip the house antipasto.” For an evening cocktail, Davies says Il Pellicano is the best spot. “It’s a chic resort that embodies la dolce vita, nestled in a remote part of Monte Argentario, not far from Porto Ercole.”
Super Tuscan wines continue to hold their unofficial influence over this famed Italian wine region. Podere Sapaio is a master of the Super Tuscan, producing only two labels: Bolgheri DOC and Bolgheri DOC Superiore. Pick up either of their bottles for a true taste of Tuscany.
Colli Euganei - © Antonio Fassina
Chef and food blogger Anna Maria Pellegrino shares her recipes and videos over at La Cucina di QB, and is born-and-bred in Veneto – she hails from Venice, and now lives in Padua. Nearby her home, she says the Euganean Hills (the Colli Euganei in Italian) are an area of natural and historical heritage. “Their landscapes have inspired great poets and writers such as Petrarca, Foscolo and Shelley; the hilly area has been made unique by the special mixture of volcanic origin, Mediterranean vegetation and human work,” says Anna Maria. “The flavours of the territory are enhanced in restaurants like Antica Trattoria Ballotta in the town of Torreglia and La Montanella in Arquà Petrarca. An additional reason for visiting the Colli Euganei is the hot springs, known since the Roman times, as well as majestic buildings such as the Catajo Castle.”
Make sure to enjoy a glass of Prosecco Valdobbiadene from Col Vetoraz or Bortolomiol while in Veneto. Or if you are seeking out a red, Zenato's Ripassa Valpolicella Superiore DOC is entirely unique to this Italian wine region.
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