Planning an Italy Wine Tour
A journey to Italy is sure to feed the mind, body and soul in a myriad of ways. When wine is the focus of a vacation, literally every point on the map of Italy will yield delights for the palate. Connoisseurs, beginners or those in between are likely to gain a deeper understanding of the marriage between Italian cuisine and wine and a new appreciation for the beauty of this timeless land. Visit the government’s official web site for tourists at www.italiantourism.com to begin your Italian adventure.
Traveling the Wine Roads of Italy
Wine enthusiasts planning to visit it Italy would be well served by starting with a look at the Italian Trade Commission’s site for food and wine at www.italianmade.com to get background information on each region. For books, magazines, articles and forums devoted to Italy’s vibrant wine scene try www.gamberorosso.it and for those seeking to contact wineries directly, check out WineWeb where more than 35,000 winery listings are easily accessed, including more than 5,000 in Italy.
Piedmont Wine Tours
Roughly two hours by car from the region’s largest city, Turin, the towns of Asti and Alba are ideal places for basing a wine tour in Piedmont and enjoying outstanding fine-dining. Most of Piedmont is rural so a rental car is typically the best choice to travel between stops. Although skiing the nearby Alps is the main tourist draw in the winter, the best time to visit wineries is in spring through early fall. August is when many Italians close up shop and take vacation themselves. Making an appointment in advance is usually a necessity as most wineries are small. Some will charge a small tasting fee but many do not, especially if you purchase wine.
Tuscany Wine Tours
Florence is the capital of Tuscany and a destination in itself for the art treasures of the renowned Uffizi Gallery, excellent shopping and tourist sights. The wine region closest to this area is Chianti Classico. Once you leave the city, a rental car and a good map are needed to navigate the twisting roads and see the gorgeous countryside. Street signs and markers are sometimes non-existent so getting lost is just part of the fun. Small medieval towns with narrow streets may require parking the car and walking. Fascinating old cities and towns like Siena or Montepulciano make good stops or overnight destinations for wine tours.
If Super Tuscan wines are of interest, a visit to the southwest coast of Tuscany to the region called Maremma would be a good overnight side trip. Appointments to tour and taste at wineries are usually needed.
Veneto Wine Tours
Most tourists visiting northeast Italy tend to make a beeline for Venice, the capital city of the region and a world of its own. To visit the vineyards and wineries of the Veneto, rent a car and drive east toward Treviso province and the small town of Conegliano to drive the three wine routes that begin there. Continuing east are the cities of Verona and Padua. Those who appreciate the works of Shakespeare will know Verona from Romeo & Juliet and art lovers will recognize the frescoes by Giotto in Padua. Throughout the province are hundred of small wineries with varying schedules and tourist amenities. Stop in at the local tourist office for assistance with finding wineries that are open for visits.
Southern Italy Wine Tours
Naples is an excellent choice for arriving to tour southern Italy. This is a very large area covering the heel and toe of Italy and includes the islands of Sicily and Sardinia so some combination of air travel and rental car is typically needed. Ferry service is available to Sicily and the island of Capri. Good train service is available to many points throughout Italy. Visiting wineries in this region does require making appointments in advance, but tours and tastings are leisurely affairs, often with an owner or winemaker who will treat you like a long-lost friend, so expect to explore no more than two wineries in a day.
If you are considering a visit to Sardinia, keep in mind this is a more isolated island best reached by air service from Rome or the cities of the north.
Organized Winery Tours in Italy
Italians are warm and welcoming people who are happy to assist visitors, but if your Italian language skills are limited you may find it a challenge to make winery appointments and navigate the roads without some help. For a more relaxing way to see the wine estates, consider hiring an organized tour service. In nearly every region you can take your pick of winery tours by car, bus, van or even bicycle. Whether it’s a quick half-day tour and lunch or an in-depth epicurean experience, your guide will usually have insider knowledge and relieve you from the risks of driving country roads after sampling vino. Tourist information services are available in most towns or cities to help you arrange organized tours.
With 25 major airports and an extensive network of trains, buses and ferries, getting around Italy is easy. Driving a vehicle in major Italian cities like Rome is best left to the professionals, but the more rural areas where wineries are located are not difficult for the average driver to navigate. Whether a perfect vacation includes sunny beaches or mountain peaks, ancient ruins or the latest fashions, fabulous gourmet delights or simple country food, Italy is all that and so much more.