While Rome and Florence are undeniably classic destinations that showcase Italy's rich culture and wine traditions, there is a world of "less traveled" destinations that await the discerning traveler seeking unique experiences. Italy offers much more beyond the well-known cities, catering to those with a taste for the extraordinary.
Italy's allure as a top travel destination stems from its rich offerings of wine, art, opera, history, religion, heritage, beaches, and skiing. The country is a paradise for explorers, and one visit is simply not enough to fully experience its wonders. The more you travel to Italy, the more you will fall in love with it.
The Birthplace of the Renaissance, Italy has an extensive list of museums, galleries, vineyards, and wineries that rival the options at an all-you-can-eat buffet. Trying to visit them all would be an almost impossible feat. In this discussion, we will focus on two provinces in Italy's Northwest region, known for their world-renowned art and wine.
Cities in Southern Piedmont, often overlooked by mainstream travelers favoring Tuscany, boast some of Italy's finest red wines. The Nebbiolo grape reigns supreme in this region, used to create prestigious reds such as Barbaresco and Barolo. These highly tannic and acidic wines require years of aging to reach their prime.
Alba and Asti attract numerous wine enthusiasts annually. The region's hot, dry summers, cold winters, and poor soil contribute to the production of exceptional red and sparkling wines. Alba is particularly famous for its Barbera d'Alba, made primarily from the tangy Barbera grapes, resulting in unique and unparalleled red wines. Just north, in Asti, the sparkling Moscato d'Asti wine must consist of at least 97% Moscato Bianco grapes.
Moving east, we arrive in the province of Lombardy, most closely associated with its capital city, Milan. Milan is renowned for luxury fashion houses like Giorgio Armani and Prada and boasts a rich art history. Sforza Castle houses several museums showcasing rare works by Michelangelo, including his unfinished Pieta, as well as frescoes by da Vinci. Nearby, the extraordinary Last Supper by da Vinci can be found at the Pinacoteca di Brera. Milan's iconic symbol is the Cathedral (Il Duomo), an exquisite example of Gothic architecture, offering unparalleled views from its rooftop.
The Lombardy region is also blessed with stunning lakes, such as Lake Como, Lake Garda, and Lake Iseo, where some of Italy's most luxurious resorts are nestled. The diverse landscape of Lombardy has fostered ideal conditions for growing a wide variety of grapes. Off-the-beaten-path vintners and artisan wineries can be discovered throughout the region. Like Piedmont, Lombardy excels in producing sparkling wines and robust reds, with the Nebbiolo grape taking center stage. Other popular grapes in this province include Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. One would not have to travel terribly far in any direction in Italy to sample some of the world's very finest wine and art.