We visited the Franciacorta wine region of Italy in early 2015, prior to the Expo Milano 2015. Franciacorta wines were the official sparkling wines of the Expo.
The 2015 Gold Prize for Special Focus Travel Articles - Internet: Culinary Travel: “The Italian Wine Country You've Probably Never Heard About,” put the spotlight on us and our favorite wine region, with more than a few people asking what we really thought about this place that most Americans no nothing about.
Quite simply put, the article fails to deliver on the emotional attachment we developed for both the wine and the beautiful region. That happens sometimes with service articles like this one. There simply was too much information that needed to be imparted in the confines of the article to leave room for feelings. Maybe it was because it was our first trip to Italy, maybe it was because we celebrated our wedding anniversary listening to Sunday church bells ring across the lovely town of Iseo, or maybe Franciacorta is one of those hidden jewels that would have inspired us under any circumstances.
I like to think that is the case, a thought that seems borne out by everyone we meet who knows the area and the wine. The people who call Franciacorta home are fiercely proud.
During or trip, we met a vintner's son who came home from University in Milan on a Sunday to give us a tour of the winery and his grandfather's farm equipment collection because his father was in the U.S. selling the family's wine. His mother prepared a wine tasting, complete with a humble lunch that was perhaps the best meal we had on our entire trip. We dined with another vintner, who passionately told of his love of the land and the wine.
On the Alitalia flight home, our cabin steward beamed broadly when we told him we had just spent the weekend exploring Franciacorta. "Ah, Franciacorta!" he said wistfully as he poured us another glass. It seemed no further words were needed to express his love of the land.
Months later, aboard the Silversea Cruises Silver Spirit, as we dined with the Staff Captain, the topic of our visit came up when he asked us if we had ever been to his native Italy. "You know Franciacorta?" he melted. "We must have some!" he exclaimed while signaling the waiter to come quickly. Unfortunately, our toast to the beautiful vine-covered hills at the foot of the Alps was not to be, at least not with Franciacorta wine. It was one of the few things that the Silver Spirit staff could not produce on request during our cruise.
Would we go again? Yes!! What would we do differently?
Let time stand still floating on a boat in the center of Lake Iseo, or spend time photographing the antique beautiful wooden boats Riva built before they were a yacht builder.
Stay longer than a weekend.
We brought home some of our favorite Franciacorta wines, but it was not enough. We saved our last bottle for New Year's Eve, toasting our good fortune at having been introduced to what now feels like our secret place in Italy.
Chiao Bella, Franciacorta!