A guide to the top places for a weekend in Franciacorta
The wine district of Franciacorta is the reign of Italian bubbles. Since the 1960s, excellent sparkling wines have been produced here using metodo classico, and today there are over 100 wineries where grapes are lovingly hand-harvested and visitors are welcomed to taste their unique products.
The territory is rich in historic, cultural and enogastronomic attractions and the proximity to Milan (just about one hour drive away) and the natural beauties of Lake Iseo make Franciacorta an excellent weekend getaway.
Here’s a brief guide to the top places for a weekend in Franciacorta:
The best wineries to visit in Franciacorta
This is the winery where the first Franciacorta bottles were produced back in 1961, hence it’s a must-visit. Back then, Mr Berlucchi was a landowner looking for a consultant to improve his Pinot del Castello wine and little did he expect that his encounter with the young oenologist Franco Ziliani would completely change the history of this corner of Italy. The Franciacorta wine was the result of their experimentation to produce sparkling wines just like the French were doing, in a land historically dedicated to still wines, and today Franciacorta is considered one of the world’s finest wines. The cellars of Berlucchi’s historic winery, dating from the 17th century, are located 10 metres underground and are home to the last remaining bottle of that first Franciacorta bottle produced in the 1960s. Visitors can choose from three different types of tastings, all guided by an expert sommelier, while Palazzo Lana, the family’s historic residence, can only be visited during special events or through customized programs.
Ca’ del Bosco
Ca’ del Bosco is one of the region’s top wine houses, one where wine and art go hand in hand. This is immediately visible at the entrance gate, where a grandiose work of art by Arnaldo Pomodoro greets visitors, and continues in the cellars, where beautiful sculptures and art installations amaze guests around every corner, like the giant rhino hanging from the ceiling that symbolizes the weight of suspended time. Founded in the 1960s, Ca’ del Bosco produces over one million bottles every year, with many award-winning wines such as the iconic Annamaria Clementi, named after the founder of Ca’ del Bosco, and the Zéro Vintage Collection Noir made with Pinot Nero grapes. Tours of the estate take visitors to the vineyards and the cellars.
The Ricci Curbastro family has been working in the wine and farming industry for generations and their history is well retraced in the museum of agriculture and wine that can be visited in their estate. They produce about 80,000 bottles of sparkling wine per year, with one of their most prestigious being the Museum Release, which undergoes a longer aging in cellars. Ricci Curbastro is the first winery in Franciacorta to be entirely sustainable, and received the organic certification in 2018. On top of the winery and the museum, the estate comprises a farmhouse with eight delightful apartments and a small shop selling anything from historic maps to antique home decor. There are four types of tours available, each including a wine tasting session.
Where to eat in Franciacorta
Locanda al Lago
Locanda al Lago is the perfect spot for a weekend lunch by the lake. Nestled on Monte Isola, a charming island of Lake Iseo where no cars are allowed, this restaurant is the reign of the Soardi, a fishermen family who’s been in the business since 1940s and continues to serve great dishes made with freshly caught lake fish. Dining on their outdoor terrace on a warm, sunny day while watching ducks and swans gently swimming in the lake is pure beauty. The house specialties include fish lasagna and sardines served with grilled polenta, all washed down with a chilly glass of Franciacorta bubbles. There are also some meat-based dishes on the menu.
Hostaria Uva Rara
In this former farmhouse from the 15th century, about 10 minutes’ drive from Lake Iseo, guests dine under ancient stone vaults or in a beautiful garden in the shade of a splendid centuries-old mulberry tree. Dishes draw mainly from the region’s culinary tradition, with local produce featuring highly. Classics include Franciacorta risotto with black truffles, beef braised in oil with polenta and a delicious rose cake served with lemon cream. It is also possible to opt for a tasting menu, while vegan dishes are available upon request. The cellar is stocked with a great selection of Franciacorta and other Italian wines, and there are also a number of excellent grappas to conclude the meal with.
Osteria Quattro Rose
The main draw of this little restaurant in the historic center of Rovato is its extensive wine list, featuring over 400 bottles, hence it’s no surprise that the owners like to describe it as a winery with a kitchen. The signature dish here is manzo all’olio di Rovato, one of Franciacorta’s regional delights, consisting of a tender pot-roasted beef cooked in extra virgin oil and served with polenta. The menu largely comprises traditional dishes such as grilled sun dried sardines from Monte Isola and traditional Brescia-style ravioli with melted butter and sage. The setting is lovely, with tables both in the indoor dining room, under a vault covered in intriguing artworks, and in the garden outside.