Italy is famed for its longstanding viticulture and winemaking traditions that make its wines world-renowned, such as Tuscany's prized Sangiovese or Sicily's Nero d'Avola wines.
Northern Italy is becoming more and more well-known, particularly among wine drinkers who appreciate delicate white wines like Pinot Grigio. Other wines with Mediterranean origins are produced here as well.
Trentino-Alto Adige can be found at Italy's northern tip and boasts some of the highest vineyards. Known for producing some of Italy's crisp Pinot Grigio wines, Trentino-Alto Adige takes full advantage of its cool climate and high altitude setting to craft some truly exquisite bottles.
Mountainous terrain creates an ideal microclimate, giving grapevines the opportunity to flourish and produce complex-tasting wines like Gewurztraminer with intense floral and spicy notes. This area is also famed for its exceptional cuisine, known for producing gourmet pastries.
Whereas throughout Italy, small estate wineries dominate production of premium wines, here several wine cooperatives are producing outstanding bottles that often win top awards at international competitions.
Piedmont, with its longstanding winemaking traditions, should be on any wine enthusiast's must-see list. Not only is this region rich with ancient villages and stunning mountain landscapes; its cuisine also stands up well to comparison. Plus, some of Italy's premier wines like Barolo and Barbaresco hail from this part of Italy!
Mountains provide a dramatic setting in Langhe and Monferrato regions, but are also the source of some exceptional wines produced here. Their varied altitudes and exposures lead to distinctive single vineyard bottlings with great character.
Visit Italy in September before the grape harvest starts and have more time with winemakers and share your wines. Driving here can be dangerous and illegal, so booking a private wine tour or paying entry to vineyards would be smart. Locals take great pride in their cuisine: delicate tajarin noodles with local vegetables to small agnolotti (ravioli) filled with roast meat and wild mushrooms are staples here.
This region's cool climate, thanks to breezes from both Adriatic Sea and nearby Alps, fosters vibrant white wines with high natural acidity that are often suitable for extended aging. As a result, their wines become crisp and aromatic over time, showing notes of fennel or nuts as their flavors evolve over time.
Friuli-Venezia Giulia may not yet be known for its red wines, but winemakers in this region are pushing the limits with local grape varieties like ribolla gialla and malvasia. Furthermore, this region is becoming known for producing sophisticated orange wines made through extended skin contact that pair perfectly with hearty meals.
Wine expert Bressan suggests visiting Grado while sampling regional seafood in Grado's lagoon and discovering medieval isolated rural chapels and vineyards during fall "when colors become an artist's palette." Grado is known for its vibrant aperitivo culture and Aperol-infused spritzes - these pair beautifully with smoked meats or bratwurst dishes as accompaniment.
Northern regions of the country offer diverse climates and produce numerous grape varieties. Emilia-Romagna boasts numerous UNESCO heritage sites, sumptuous Renaissance monuments, and boasts an iconic cuisine consisting of prosciutto crudo, mortadella, and parmesan cheeses.
This region boasts spectacular natural wonders, from stunning Adriatic beaches to towering Apennine mountains and two national parks and 14 regional parks providing opportunities for hiking, camping and exploring caves.
Culture from this area has had an outsized impact on Italian history, from composer Giuseppe Verdi and opera tenor Luciano Pavarotti to filmmakers Bernardo Bertolucci's 1976 masterpiece 1900 in Bologna and Parma to Pier Paolo Pasolini and Federico Fellini who all produced films there; popular actors like Gino Cervi who appeared in 1950s-1960s TV series Don Camillo as well as Rossano Brazzi of Gigi e Andrea were born here as well.