Bacchus, Dionysus to the Greeks, was the god of wine, the symbol of intoxication and sensuality. Some of the most beautiful Italian landscapes are dedicated to him, with gentle hills cultivated geometrically as well as charming villages, castles and charming hotels where you can wake up surrounded by vineyards. Here you can enjoy an exciting experience, from north to south, from Piedmont to Sicily.
ALTO ADIGE: THE FRAGRANCE OF HISTORY
The Wine Route in Alto Adige is the oldest in Italy. It is an itinerary involving all your senses, because you can visit private vineyards and historic estates that open their doors to those who want to experience working in the country (suedtiroler- weinstrasse.it). One is the Hofstätter cantina in Termeno. The owners provide guests with 4x4 vehicles for an adventure up and down the verdant hills along both sides of the Adige Valley, with plenty of time to stop and get to know the territory where Gewürztraminer and Pinot come to life. The Schloss Hotel Korb, an ancient castle nestled among rows of vines, also gives guests the opportunity to take a walk with the enologist through cultivated land, but also to savor the specialties of the Slow Food restaurant and relax in romantic suites that have maintained a time- honored style (+39 0471 636000, schloss-hotel- korb.com).
LOMBARDY: BUBBLES AND BICYCLES
When you open the windows at Albereta, stretching in front of you is a sea of green. It is the color of the trees in the centuries-old park, botanical garden and cultivated hills. This is certainly the most charming resort in Franciacorta, with terraces boasting panoramic views, gourmet restaurants and an activity program totally dedicated to wine, including visits to Bellavista and Contadi Castaldi of the Terra Moretti group, as well as wine tasting lessons (+39 030 7760550, albereta. it). Autumn is the best time to explore the Wine Route winding its way through Franciacorta, the land of Italian “bubbles”, which produces about ten million bottles a year. Walking or bicycle itineraries take visitors through vineyards, fields, small villages and natural oases like Torbiere del Sebino, a landscape full of ponds, rush and cane thickets (franciacorta.net).
PIEDMONT: HARVEST AND HAUTE CUISINE
Spend a day in the country, perhaps experiencing harvest time in the Beni di Batasiolo vineyards, with a tour and tasting in a cantina that makes important red wines, from Barolo to Dolcetto (batasiolo. com). This is the proposal for those who stay at the Boscareto, a wine resort in the Langhe hills. It has a spa where you can try wine therapy and eat at the Michelin-starred La Rei restaurant, headed by the famous Antonino Cannavacciuolo. The chef offers a local menu with a creative twist to accompany the wines that came from the vineyards visitors helped harvest (+39 0173 613036, ilboscaretoresort.it). In the morning, when the fog shrouds the hills, a pleasant walk looping around Serralunga takes you to Castiglion Falletto or Castello di Barolo (wimubarolo.it) to visit the Barolo Wine Museum (wimubarolo.it).
TUSCANY: BETWEEN THE COUNTRYSIDE AND THE SEA
Descending down to central Italy, you can point your navigator towards Mondonico, just a few kilometers away from Scansano, where you’ll find Locanda Terenzi. Three simple renovated country houses, and their halls, libraries and rooms, with terracotta floors and ceilings with exposed beams, are named after the varieties grown on the estate (+39 0564 599601, www. terenzi.eu). The Terenzi family welcomes guests and eagerly opens the doors of their winery to show them large oak barrels and lead tastings of everything from Morellino di Scansano to Vermentino from Maremma. Guests can then go horseback riding around their vineyards. Those who love riding shouldn’t miss the trails in the Maremma Regional Park, which is home to a variety of natural habitats, from the Mediterranean maquis to the secluded beaches of Collelungo and Cala di Forno (parco- maremma.it).
ABRUZZO: A ROOM WITH A VIEW
Visitors can enjoy culinary delights in Chieti too. Here the wines are straightforward; they have a rich ruby color and leave the unique aromas of Trebbiano and Montepulciano on your palate. We are talking about the products made by Azienda Agricola Masciarelli, a company that has dedicated itself to wine tourism since 1981. In fact, it has bought and restored the Palazzo Baronale Castello in Semivicoli, which is open for tastings held in the dungeons of the castle or at the mill built in 1868 (+39 0871 890045, castellodisemivicoli.com). It is worth stopping and staying over in one of their suites, like that of the Granaio, which has 17 windows offering a view of the beautiful Parco Nazionale della Majella, the massif just 20 kilometers away.
From the castle, you can easily reach the town of Guardiagrele, which the poet Gabriele D’Annunzio defined as the “city of stone”. In town you can shop at numerous crafts boutiques, where you can buy wrought iron and copper; be sure to stop at Lullo, the historic bakery, to taste pasta reale, an Abruzzese delight.
PUGLIA: EXPLORING NOBLE VINEYARDS
In Salento, Negroamaro is in the spotlight. The robust red wine is winning over a growing number of admirers and the big family-run operations are the darlings of the winemaking scene. Some of them were genuine winemaking pioneers, like the Duca Carlo Guarini estate in Scorrano, which today makes certified organic wine. The winery is in an underground cavern excavated from stone; it was used in the 1600s as an oil mill, and was then transformed into a cellar where the wine ages in oak. Just a few steps away, the Palazzo Ducale Guarini, which has only just opened, has rooms and halls that face citrus groves as well as large fireplaces where guests can warm up in the wintertime, not to mention kitchen where cooking lessons with a local chef from Salento (+39 0836 465047, dimoreducaguarini.it).
On appointment, you can visit the Leone de Castris winery in Salice Salentino, founded in 1665, where they’ve added a wine museum dedicated to the forebears that produced Five Roses, the first Italian rosé (leonedecastris. com).
SICILY: VINEYARDS AND THE BAROQUE
Spend the night in the hills of Baglio di Pianetto, a country hotel run by Ginevra Notarbartolo di Villarosa, the young granddaughter of Count Paolo Marzotto (+39 091 8570148, www. bagliodipianetto.com). It is an elegant residence with a Sicilian touch and large halls, reading areas and a veranda overlooking a garden, as well as intimate and cozy rooms, some of which also have terraces and direct access to the Baglio courtyard. The view takes in the Piana degli Albanesi vineyards at 650 meters above sea level, in an area where the microclimate favors the cultivation of grapes. It is the perfect place to combine wine tastings and visits to see the Arab- Norman masterpieces of nearby Palermo. Just a few minutes by car brings you to the Church of St. John of the Hermits, whose five red domes stand out against the blue sky, as well as the archeological museum and the colorful Ballarò market.