Travel diary of a spring site inspection by María Zurita (Sales and Marketing Director at Italian Special Occasions DMC & Events).

Thinking of Milan is inevitable when you hear speak of Lombardy. The region’s capital has a well-deserved international reputation thanks to wonders like its imposing cathedral, one of the most beautiful in the world. It is also a major financial centre and a reference in fashion and design.

But Lombardy is much more.

Just over an hour away from the frantic pace, noise and stress of the city, we find a lake nestled among mountains where it feels like we’re living inside a postcard: Lake Iseo. Surrounded by small villages, with trails for cyclists and strollers, this vast expanse of water immersed in nature brings great calm, spectacular views and pleasant temperatures throughout the year.

Being able to visit the area in spring is a privilege.

It’s a privilege to take a stroll by the lake on a bright morning, to approach the pier and board a small boat that, as it glides through its calm waters, will gradually reveal the surrounding vegetation and the shores of ancient fishing villages… Until it docks at the fabulous island of Monte Isola, rising in the middle of the lake, dominating it.

Not only are the landscapes spectacular, but the heritage of these small villages also surprises, with their charming castles, churches, convents… Some of which date back to the Middle Ages.

Watching the sunset on the lake from the garden terrace of a castle in Monte Isola while enjoying a glass of local wine in good company, is priceless.

Furthermore, the natural and cultural beauty of this region, fortunately less frequented by tourists, has another well-kept secret and little known outside Italy: its wines.

Between Brescia and Lake Iseo lies Franciacorta, a region dedicated to grape cultivation and wine production for centuries, thanks to the richness of its soil and the temperate climate bestowed upon it by its location between mountains and lakes.

sustainable retreat activity in italian farm

On our second day, we wake up amidst silence, surrounded by nature, and prepare to explore the vineyards dotting its hills. A day of total immersion in Italian gastronomy awaits us, focusing especially on organically certified crops.

In the first vineyard we visit, we learn that since the 1960s, these wines have been granted the Designation of Origin, bearing the same name as the region that produces them: Franciacorta. This is the wine known for its freshness and fine bubbles (bollicine), a sparkling wine resembling French champagne or Spanish cava, and among the grapes used in its production is one of my favourites: Chardonnay.

Around noon, as the sun shines brightest in the sky, we arrive at an agritourism where all the ingredients used in the restaurant are organically grown. As we tour the different orchards, the chef explains the variety of dishes on the menu and the natural fruit and vegetable juices.

At the restaurant, we witness how fresh ingredients bring richness, intensity and a range of flavours that only farm-to-table cooking can achieve. We love this experience.

In the afternoon, we have the opportunity to visit two more wineries, continuing to learn about their production process and the significance of this “Italian champagne” in the history and culture of the area.

We decide to dine at one of the wineries, as it is located in a beautiful historic building, surrounded by a lovely garden and near a castle, and its restaurant offers typical dishes of the region.

As dessert arrives, we bid farewell to Lombardy with a toast of Franciacorta: Cheers!

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