Franciacorta: see, taste, do

Located just steps from Brescia and Lake Iseo, the area called Franciacorta is famous for its wine production, Franciacorta DOCG. There is more: its beautiful hills, cultural and historical sites, relaxing natural environment, sports and entertainment represent a true discovery for many tourists who visit the region for the first time.

What can you do in Franciacorta? Which sites can you visit? Which sports, cultural, and food&wine experiences can you enjoy? Let’s find out.

Franciacorta: overview and origin of the name

Franciacorta stretches for over km 200 and encompasses 19 municipalities in the province of Brescia: from Iseo to Ome, from Adro to Cellatica, from Rovato to Rodengo Saiano, every town and village has unique treasures and a double common thread: good wine and nature.

The landscape is characterized by fascinating hills covered in vineyards, which over time have replaced the original woods. The first vineyards appeared in Prehistory; this agricultural activity continued to expand under the Romans until well into the Middle Ages, thanks to favourable climate and soil conditions.

The first appearance of the name “Franzacurta” dates from 1227. There are different theories about its meaning. Someone maintains that the name comes from the short (corta) Frank domination. Others state that this area for some time was not subject to taxation (corte franca), while Monsignor Paolo Guerrini affirms that this was in the past a “francae curtis”, one of the Early Middle Ages courts which obtained special rights and autonomy after the arrival of Cluniac monks.

Franciacorta: land of food and wine

Let’s explore what you can do and see in Franciacorta, focusing in particular on the main strength of this land: its wine culture. It is here, on morainic hills rich in minerals, that Franciacorta DOCG is produced with the traditional method. The three variations are Franciacorta, Franciacorta Satèn and Franciacorta Rosé.

Franciacorta is an extremely high quality wine which offers excellent pairing options throughout the whole meal. Appetizers, first courses, second courses, and desserts are enhanced by different types of Franciacorta at different dosages: Pas Dosé, Extra Brut, Brut, Extra Dry, Dry, Demi-Sec, and the extremely valuable Vintage and Franciacorta Riserva. The rich local wine culture is accompanied by a growing high-level cuisine landscape: several restaurants in the area partner with wineries to offer sophisticated menus and carefully selected food-wine pairings. This successful approach has produced a true celebration of flavour and taste.

Among local food delicacies, a special mention goes to manzo all’olio di Rovato, braised beef cooked slowly in olive oil served on a bed of polenta. The ideal pairing is with White Franciacorta Pas Dosé, Vintage or Riserva. Other traditional dishes are Clusane’s baked stuffed tench, to be enjoyed with Franciacorta Extra Brut, and Franciacorta Risotto, perfect with Franciacorta Pas Dosé.

To learn all about Franciacorta DOCG types, method, stages, and pairings, visit the official website and the page about Consorzio per la tutela del Franciacorta (Consortium for the Protection of Franciacorta).

Wine Tourism

Wineries producing Franciacorta DOCG are open to the public and offer an unforgettable experience. Visiting a winery means becoming more aware of how wine is produced, discovering the secrets of wine-makers, and of course tasting the product. Visit the official website for the list of wineries offering tours and information about guided tours and tasting events with certified sommeliers.

Franciacorta: what to do and see

Have you decided to spend a relaxing weekend in Franciacorta? Discover the numerous opportunities for cultural visits, relaxation, shopping, outdoor activities, and food&wine tourism that this region offers to you and your family!

Torbiere del Sebino Peatbog Natural Reserve

Riserva Naturale delle Torbiere del Sebino is an area of high natural interest located just south of Lake Iseo between the towns of Iseo, Provaglio d’Iseo, and Corte Franca. This large swamp boasts beautiful colours in particular during sunset and is a bird watching spot, for example to admire purple herons and western marsh harriers. The varying depth of the water creates the perfect conditions for a happy coexistence of very different plants, including some exotic species.

The Nature Reserve is open all-year round from dawn to sunset. Admission is Euro 1.

S. Pietro in Lamosa Monastery

At a few steps from one of the access points to the Peatbog Reserve stands the beautiful S. Pietro in Lamosa Monastery, in the municipality of Provaglio d’Iseo. The first church was donated to the Cluniac monks by a wealthy family in 1083; over the centuries, it underwent several transformations and changes of property until another aristocratic family became the owner. Only in 1983 did the family give the church to the city. After 20 years of restauration work, the church is now accessible to the public and you can learn about its history, admire its valuable frescoes, and enjoy cultural and music events.

Because of its elevated position, the S. Pietro in Lamosa Monastery also boasts a superb view of the Peatbog Reserve and the surrounding land.

S. Nicola Olivetan Abbey

S.Nicola Olivetan Abbey stands above all the various northern Italy religious complexes. The abbey is located in Rodengo Saiano and was founded before 1050 by Cluniac monks. This was a strategic location at the doors of the city and the abbey was visited by pilgrims as well as renowned local artists which contributed to the prestige of the complex. The arrival of Napoleon marked the beginning of the abbey’s decline. It was transformed into a farm but was subsequently restored by Paul VI and given back to the Olivetan monks.

The three cloisters are splendid and the Church of S.Nicola is very charming, with frescoes by Romanino. Art lovers cannot miss the visit to the entrance of the refectory, embellished by frescoes by renowned local painter Lattanzio Gambara.

Outdoor activities: golf, biking, trekking, Nordic walking

Franciacorta’s natural landscape is ideal for practicing outdoor sports.

Among the numerous possibilities, here are our picks:

  • Bike itineraries offered by Franciacorta Wine Route to enjoy magnificent views of hills and vineyards;
  • Trekking, walking and Nordic walking along the Brescia – Iseo route, on Mount Orfano, in Erbusco, Borgonato and other destinations;
  • Franciacorta Golf Club, for golf lovers. The course also has a school for those who wish to learn to play.

Castle tour

Did you know that Franciacorta is a land of castles? The list is long and captivating: Castello Quistini di Rovato, Castello di Passirano, Castello di Capriolo, Castello di Paderno, Castello di Bornato, Castello di Gussago, and Castello Carmagnola di Clusane are among the best preserved structures. Many of them can be visited and host wine tastings.

Shopping at Franciacorta Outlet Village

What about some good old shopping in between tours? Franciacorta Outlet is located in Rodengo Saiano and is built as a village with stores offering the best brands at a discounted price, in true outlet style. You can find everything: clothing, shoes, leather goods, toiletries, household items, perfumes, stationery, and undergarments. You can take a break in one of the bars in the main plaza… because shopping also means relaxation and a day spent with friends and family.

Franciacorta: how to get there and move around

The most convenient way to reach Franciacorta is by car. The area is served by Autostrada A4 Milan-Venice motorway. The exit is Rovato. If you arrive from Camonica Valley or other Brescian valleys, we recommend that you follow the directions for Iseo.

Franciacorta is only 30 minutes away from Milan-Bergamo Orio al Serio Airport. The airport has a car rental service on site.

Another possibility is taking local train line Trenord Brescia – Iseo – Edolo: many towns in Franciacorta have a train station and you can bring your bike with you or rent it on site.

Get ready to experience Franciacorta with our suggestions: enjoy your stay!

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