Franciacorta Extension: Italy’s Other Sparkler

Meander through the Franciacorta region, as you hike, bike, and explore the charming towns and vineyards that blanket the area. Plus, discover Franciacorta the sparkling wine, explore Lake Iseo, and relax in the lap of luxury at your 5-star spa hotel!

  • Length 3 Days / 2 Nights
  • Trip Type Extension
  • Activity Level Easy to Moderate
  • Start / Finish Franciacorta

Highlights

  • Discover Italy’s other sparkling wine – Franciacorta – named for the beautiful region which it is grown
  • Hike or bicycle on country roads through the beautiful vineyard landscape of Erbusco
  • Explore Lago Iseo, one of the least explored Italian lakes, with one of the largest lake islands in all of Europe!
  • Luxuriate at Condé Nast’s 2013 Most Excellent Hotel Spa



OVERVIEW

Franciacorta is a beautiful and relatively untouristed region, covered with vineyards forming verdant rolling hills.  South of the prealpi, or foothills of the Alps, the region extends from Lago Iseo to the south, down to the flats where the Oglio River flows toward the Po. This sunny amphitheater is not only covered with vineyards, but also olive groves, vegetable gardens, meadows, and woods – a spectacular landscape to explore. What’s more, the moraines left behind by retreating glaciers in past milennia offer interesting vantage points to explore, with a new view of the landscape emerging around every corner.

Towers, castles, palaces, noble villas, rural churches, sanctuaries, and abbeys dot the hillsides and comprise the townships throughout the region, their stones recounting the regions fascinating history. Just 60 kilometers 37 miles) from Milan, noble families built their country residences here in past centuries, where they would enjoy long periods of rest. The sumptuous villas are ever present, surrounded by magnificent gardens full of centuries-old trees. 
Monastic courts also possessed magnificent estates, dating back over a millennium, leaving behind numerous country churches, monasteries, and abbeys that can be visited today.

Grave cultivation and wine making in Franciacorta dates back to the Middle Ages, and continued uninterrupted through the Roman, the Late Classical, and the medieval periods. The mild, temperate climate, combined with excellent soils, have helped viticulture here to remain an unbroken tradition. Unlike Prosecco, Franciacorta sparkling wines are made using the traditional French méthode champenoise, or “Classic Method,” with the second fermentation in the bottle. (Prosecco is made using the Charmat method, also called the "Italian Method," that forces the second fermentation to happen in a large stainless steel tank prior to bottling, rather than in the bottle as with Franciacorta and Champagne.) In 1995, Franciacorta was the first Italian sparkling wine produced exclusively by the Classic Method to win official status as a Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG). Today, the front label on the wine reads simply “Franciacorta”: this one term defines the growing area, the production method, and the wine. All of Europe boasts only 10 such privileged wines, and only three of them are made by refermentation in the bottle, Cava, Champagne, and Franciacorta.

Today, the area’s venerable wine cellars have transformed themselves into cathedrals of modern winemaking technology. They proudly produce the four categories of Franciacorta sparkling wines – Millesimato, Rosé, Satèn, and Riserva – as well as Franciacorta’s still wines.  And you thought the only sparkling wine in Italy was Prosecco!?

Day by Day

Discover Italy’s largest and most beautiful – yet least well-known – lake. Intense blue waters and a diverse shoreline create endless holiday options. Choose from a series of enticing itineraries, where you can be active or luxuriate in thermal spa waters – or both!


Day 1 ~ Arrive in Erbusco
If you are joining us from the Dolomite Mountains, after breakfast transfer to Erbusco (3-4 hours from the Dolomites). If this is your first destination in Italy, transfer to Erbusco from the Milano Malpensa Airport (MXP, less than 1 hour).

Arrive in Erbusco and check in to your 5-star Relais & Châteaux hotel. Depending on when you arrive (check in is 3pm), you may have time to begin your exploration of beautiful region, or indulge in a spa treatment at the hotel!  The ideal get-away for those seeking the pleasure of some “time-out,” L'Albereta seduces its guests with refined proposals for wellness, haute cuisine, and exploration of the Franciacorta region and its wines.
… Relais & Chateaux Hotel in Erbusco (5-Star)


Day 2 ~ Explore Franciacorta
There are numerous options for exploring the Franciacorta region surrounding the hotel. Below are a few of our favorites.

Option: Hike the Franciacorta Region
Enjoy an easy hike, looping through the Franciacorta region, walking on cozy roads among vineyards, with minimal elevation change. Starting from the main church square in Erbusco, Piazza della Chiesa, you’ll walk south through town, and into the countryside onto a dirt road. Along the way you’ll walk by the S. Bernadino monastery, and walk along the edge of a wood among vineyards and old farmsteads. You’ll pass the imposing Villa Fenaroli Lechi, formerly Martinengo, a Palladian style villa built in the 16th and 17th centuries, with its traditional Italian garden. Choose whether to take the outward track or go straight onto the main road which leads into the town, and ultimately circle back to the Piazza della Chiesa. (1-2 hours hiking, 6.3km / 3.9 miles, 150m / 492' ascent and descent.)

Option: Visit the Franciacorta Canteens
In the late afternoon, you have the option to visit one of the Franciacorta canteens. These cellars are located just a stone's throw from your hotel, and a great opportunity to taste the Franciacorta sparkling, still, and dessert wines. 

Bellavista winery was established in Franciacorta in 1977 by Vittorio Moretti, a businessman who decided to convert his small family-run winemaking business into a large-scale enterprise. The early vineyards, of exceptional quality, still carpet the Bellavista hill which the winery is named after – “beautiful view” – for to its magnificent position with views stretching from the Po plain to Lago Iseo and to the Alps beyond. Vittorio Moretti was farsighted enough to purchase several other vineyards, which today make up Bellavista’s 190 hectares, which comprise about a tenth of Franciacorta’s total vineyards.  Since its foundation and the first vintage, 1984, Bellavista has acted as a catalyst for the entire appellation of Franciacorta, propelling it to the forefront of Italian sparkling wines and in a class of its own. 

Option: Explore Lago Iseo
Less than 30 minutes from your hotel is Lago Iseo – a spectacular lake that is the quintessential undiscovered gem. It is a place for travellers who delight in discovering their own special places sans tourist shops. It is also a place that, by the will of the people, has remained off the tourists' beaten track. 

The town of Iseo is considered to be the main town on the lake, with tiny ancient streets, romantic squares, and peaceful votive chapels ripe for discovery. The hills surrounding the lake are full of spectacular walks of varying levels – everything from ridge walks with incredible lake views, forest trails with pools and waterfalls, to gentle lakeside strolls. Cycling is, without a doubt, one of the best ways to see the area. A variety of itineraries are available – choose one that include waterfalls, wine tasting, a boat trip, or an enchanted wood. Or, why not combine biking and hiking, or biking and wine tasting, and have the best of everything the lake has to offer!

In the center of Lago Iseo rises Montisola, one of Europe’s largest and highest lake islands (13 sq km / 5 sq miles, rising to a height of 599m / 1,965'). At first glance, this island appears as an imposing mountain on the opposite shore, but as you draw closer you soon see that it is actually an island rising from the lake. 1,830 inhabitants live here, in 11 villages, alongside a castle, 8 churches, 9 springs, 16,000 olive trees, a handful of vines, and chestnut woods everywhere. A regular ferry service operates between Iseo and Montisola. Visitors are allowed to explore the island on foot or by bike (cars are banned and only the residents can use motorcycles) or using the public minibus service.
B… Relais & Chateaux Hotel in Erbusco (5-Star)


Day 3 ~ Depart
Breakfast and departure.
B…  


Trip itinerary may vary based on weather conditions, and/or fitness levels and abilities of participants.

Cost

Self Guided Trip: Available on request


Cost Includes

  • 2 nights accommodation in 5-star hotel in Erbusco
  • All breakfasts
  • Tourist Tax
  • Italian VAT Tax

Airport transfers available on request.
Wine tasting, bicycle rentals, and ferry rides included on request (additional fee).

Accommodation

At Dolomite Mountains, we hand pick accommodations that best reflect the style of each region, to provide you with the most authentic experience of the unique cultures found in the different cities and towns where we travel. We work directly with the owners of each property, forging strong relationships to ensure you receive the best service and care during your stay. Regardless of whether it is a five-star luxury hotel or a cozy bed and breakfast you desire, we choose the best-in-class accommodations within each category, providing you stays at the most sought after hotels in each region. And, we always make sure you have access to inspired, regional cuisine!

Group Trip Dates

Trip name   Trip dates   Min persons   Trip status   Price    
25-30 Jul
2017
4
Available
€ 890
27 Jul - 3 Aug
2017
4
Available
€ 1260
8-14 Aug
2017
4
Available
€ 1520
15-21 Aug
2017
4
Limited space
€ 2660
16-21 Aug
2017
4
Limited space
€ 890
16-20 Aug
2017
4
Available
€ 890
18-24 Aug
2017
4
Available
€ 1260
23-30 Aug
2017
4
Available
€ 1730
26 Sep - 1 Oct
2017
4
Limited space
€ 1520
26 Sep - 1 Oct
2017
4
Limited space
€ 2660
3-7 Oct
2017
4
Available
€ 890
3-10 Oct
2017
4
Available
€ 1730
3-10 Oct
2017
4
Available
€ 1730
10-15 Oct
2017
4
Available
€ 890
12-18 Oct
2017
4
Available
€ 1260
14-19 Feb
2018
4
Limited space
€ 2200
21-27 Feb
2018
4
Available
€ 1900
28 Feb - 2 Mar
2018
4
Available
€ 2200
25 Mar - 2 Apr
2018
4
Available
€ 1540
25 Mar - 2 Apr
2018
4
Available
€ 2200
4-9 Apr
2018
4
Available
€ 1220
4-9 Apr
2018
4
Available
€ 1270
11-17 Apr
2018
4
Available
€ 1900
18-23 Apr
2018
4
Available
€ 1690