Italy is the land of art and wine bonanza, a paradise for foodies and art lovers. Regions such as Tuscany and Piedmont pop immediately in mind, thanks to the “wine shires” of Chianti and Langhe, and to the cities of classic and contemporary art like Florence and Turin. But the Bel Paese offers a treasure trove around every corner. Are you looking for ideas for your next art and wine travel experiences with your Foodie Family and Friends? Or perhaps for a Corporate Retreat? We, the Team at Italian Special Occasions DMC, have some tips for amazing experiences off the beaten track!
While Rome offers an amazing artistic heritage that spans through millennia, the areas that surround Caput Mundi also host several beautiful artistic attractions… and delicious foodie surprises. About 20 km southeast of Rome, you find the verdant Alban Hills featuring 2 volcanic lakes, vineyards and 13 pretty villages – welcome to the Castelli Romani! This green corner of Lazio produces DOC wines such as Frascati, Castelli Romani and Marino, but also strawberries (fragole di Nemi), cold cuts (porchetta IGP) and beautiful flowers.
Wine production in the Roman Castles area dates back many centuries, thanks to a combination of factors resulting from the microclimate, the volcanic soils and the mitigating influence of the lakes. The ‘Castelli Romani DOC’ label refers to dry, semi-sweet and sparkling white wines, produced mainly from Malvasia and Trebbiano grapes; dry, semi-sweet, sparkling and new red wines produced from Cesanese, Merlot, Montepulciano, Nero Buono and Sangiovese grapes; and dry, semi-sweet and sparkling rosés produced by combining white and red grapes from the above varieties. If you travel along “the Wine Route” in the Castelli Romani, you can understand the extent to which wine production and grapevine-growing is rooted in the history of this hilly area.
You can find amazing restaurants, including the informal fraschette, anywhere in the Castelli Romani. One of our favorite places for a culinary experience that includes art and wine, is a restaurant that offers delicious local cuisine as well as a museum! Themed rooms are decorated with antique furniture from the Arte Povera movement, and with Vinarelli, or beautiful paintings created with wine. Everything on display is the result of a careful selection of the owner, who is passionate about art, antiques and collectibles. The restaurant also features ancient caves filled with old farming tools, collectors’ bottles of wine and a cheese bank. In this unique and evocative setting, you can enjoy tastings and guided tours. The restaurant offers creative dishes that are deeply linked to the culinary tradition of Lazio. Your meals here are created using seasonal products, and are accompanied by the best local wines from Castelli Romani or national wines. If in doubt, the friendly and expert owners are always delighted to suggest the best combination!
To explore the history and heritage of ancient art trades, you can join courses and activities organized by local associations such as ArteMestieri Castelli Romani. You can meet Italian painters, goldsmiths, photographers and other types of artisans, learning about their work and joining them in workshops. Furthermore, the Castelli Romani are ideal for Art itineraries across beautiful palaces like Palazzo Chigi in Ariccia, a unique specimen of a baroque residence by Gian Lorenzo Bernini that has remained unchanged over the centuries, documenting the prestige of one of Italy’s greatest papal families.
From the volcanic lands of central Italy, we move down south to Sicily, where you can experience Vineyarding in one of the most exclusive, diverse and emotional itineraries in Italy. At Italian Special Occasions DMC, we conceived this journey for wine lovers who want to go beyond the usual, discovering the world of wine from within. You get to explore different vineyards and wineries owned and managed by a historic family that has been in the wine business for five centuries and through seventeen generations. You get the chance to meet some of the members of the Planeta Family, strolling through the vineyards with them as they chat with you about their heritage and work.
Your Sicilian wine and art itinerary can start in the vineyards of Menfi, where the great classic and super cru – Planeta Chardonnay – is produced. Next is Vittoria, a town featuring the museums of Sacred Art and of Peasant Civilization, among others. The town’s womenfolk are known to still do intricate embroideries, first adopted during the period of Arab rule in Sicily. The vineyards here extend over fine, light red sand, leaving an unmistakable mark on the aromatic profile of Cerasuolo wine. You cannot miss the land of Nero d’Avola, where the Planeta Estate produces the D.O.C. Santa Cecilia, Moscato di Noto and Passito di Noto. Art lovers will gaze in awe at the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the Noto Valley, including Catania, Caltagirone, Modica, Noto and Ragusa. Next, in the vineyards shadowed by the great volcano, it is time for you to taste DOC Etna, to then visit the artistic and architectural wonders of the ancient world at Taormina. The final pit stop is at Capo Milazzo, where you will find a small estate that produces DOC Mamertino and that has also been cultivated with three ancient varieties of Vitraruolo, Lucignola and Catanese Nera, for research and experiments.
Sicily is home to surprising art exhibitions. One example is called Viaggio in Sicilia and is organized by the Planeta enterprise itself. It involves six Italian and foreign artists that meet and confront themselves with the Sicilian territory as nomads, moving for 10 days from one corner to the next. During this time, they document their feelings and impressions through different languages: painting, sculpture, photography… The final works of art will be presented in a collective exhibition in Palermo in June 2017. This innovative art experiment has reached its 7th edition!