Franciacorta, Italy = 17.5 million bottles produced every years. Hectares and hectares of hills that every year produce tons of precious grapes that are then transformed into that DOCG wine with the important name: Franciacorta.
Franciacorta is the portion of Italian territory located between the municipalities of Brescia and Iseo. It is delimited to the south by Monte Orfano near Rovato. Square kilometers of morainic hills which transfer to wines the characteristic taste of this territory and to the landscape a great sense of peace and wellness.
From the first moments of spring until late autumn, Franciacorta offers splendid moments. From the awakening of the vines to the yellowing of October, the landscape changes every month and those who, like me, have the pleasure of living here, are able to savor every period of the year.
Who better than a blogger that lives in Franciacorta can tell you what to do in Franciacorta and how to choose where to spend some carefree hours, why not, drinking a good wine.
Where to stay in Franciacorta in Italy
One of the aspects I love most about living in Franciacorta is waking up to find myself immersed in the green, wrapped in the vine-covered hills. My advice for sleeping in Franciacorta is to find a solution here-> CLICK HERE to discover the hotels in the area.
History of Franciacorta
Before setting out to discover the things to do in Franciacorta, it is best to give an explanation of the name. As a matter of fact, while searching for information, it is not possible to find an univocal version that explains the appellation “Franciacorta”.
The name Franciacorta appeared for the first time in 1227 in an ordinance of the statutes of Brescia (read also: Best Things to do in Brescia). Mistakenly it could be thought it derives from France, in reality it has very little to do with it.
Many versions reunite under the concept of “payment of taxes”. It seems to derive from the Latin words “francae” and “curtis“, meaning freedom and monastery. It would be linked to the monastic courts as Rodengo, Provaglio and Rovato that at that time seems to have been free from the payment of the tithe. Another version claims that the name “francae curtis” referred to the fact that goods passing through Brescia were exempt from duties, in exchange for the maintenance of the Brescia-Iseo road.
Finally, there is a more popular version whose key to interpretation is the dialect. To be “a curt de franc”, in Brescian language means “to be short of money”. This nickname was used to indicate a poor region.
In short, as is often the case, finding a single version is unlikely. Sometimes, it’s best to preserve the mystery…
The birth of Franciacorta wine
Franciacorta started only in the 1960’s, precisely in 1961, to become known as an area where wine is produced. Thanks to Berlucchi, who started its production in the Borgonato area. From that moment on, Franciacorta changed its aspect and from woods it slowly turned into hills cultivated with vines.
In 1967 Franciacorta wine acquired the DOC appellation, in 1990 the consortium was established and in 1995 it became DOCG. In that year it also becme the first Italian wine exclusively produced with refermentation in bottle, an essential characteristic of a bottle of Franciacorta.
The history of Franciacorta wine goes on laying year after year the foundations to get the current success. Thanks to DOCG, now the simple word Franciacorta can be associated to three key aspects: Territory, Production Method and, of course, Wine.
The Franciacorta territory is not only synonymous of Franciacorta. Curtefranca wines (dry white wines) and red wines are also produced, although the latter are not so widely commercialized.
10 Best Things to do in Franciacorta in Italy
4 different types of soil, 6 landscape areas with as many pedo-climatic zones, Franciacorta is a relatively small territory, but it really reserves many surprises and activities to do.
With this article I want to list a series of things to do and to see in Franciacorta, so that you can organize a weekend related to good wine or to active tourism. If you would like to spend more time in the Brescia area, I suggest you to -> discover the things to do on Lake Iseo or -> visit Brescia in one day.
You might also be interested in: Brescia Castle and the lioness of Italy: great pride!
1 – Visit a winery
How not to start an itinerary in Franciacorta if not by visiting one of the many wineries and tasting a good glass of bubbles.
The morainic hills which characterize this territory are full of vineyards. In wintertime vines are completely bare and they are nothing more than a small trunk coming out from the ground. In summertime everything becomes of an intense green until about the half of August and in this moment in which leaves begin to turn yellow.
This moment marks the beginning of the harvesting of grapes because for Franciacorta it is necessary to harvest berries very early. In September most of vineyards are bare and the landscape begins to tend towards the classic colors of autumn.
Within Franciacorta’s territory there are more than 100 wineries Some of them are very famous and have been on the market for a long time, such as Ca’ del Bosco, Berlucchi, Villa, etc., whereas others are smaller but of high quality.
A tour inside a Wine Cellar
Besides the dedication for the classic method and the passion for wine, almost every winery offers the possibility to visit the cellar and end with a tasting. Although a visit in a winery can be considered as similar to another. In case of Franciacorta every winery has its own peculiarities and its own beliefs about wine. Just think about “remuage”…try asking in the winery what is their theory about this technique of rotating the bottle.
The visit of a Franciacorta winery varies according to the size of the cellar and to the quantity of wines you will taste. As a general rule, the price is about 25 € per person.
2 – Visit this Italian Region during the Franciacorta Festival
I just talked about wineries, how could I not mention the best time to take a winery tour. If your goal is to taste the wines of Franciacorta, keep yourself free for the middle of September. It’s the weekend related to the festival. Many wineries “open their doors” offering guided tours, or events, which are the perfect occasion to combine wine, wineries and vineyards. Mark this period in your diary.
3 – Trekking among the vineyards or horseback riding
Let’s talk about vineyards. Franciacorta is rich in paths immersed in the green hills. I often leave my house and get “lost” among the rows of vines; I enjoy the tranquility of the countryside. If overly active tourism is not for you, deciding to spend a few days relaxing is a perfect choice. And if you like the idea of having a picnic, know that in springtime several wineries organize picnics among the vineyards.
If even the picnic does not drive you crazy, you can not back out of a horseback ride thanks to the many stables in the area.
4 – Cycling among the hills of Franciacorta
Okay, here we move on to something more active: mountain biking.
Why not riding all these paths with a little bit of adrenaline?
There are 5 trails that take the name of the various Franciacorta wines: Satèn, Pas Dosé, Brut, Rosé, Extra Brut.
On the official website -> HERE -> you can find all 5 mountain bike, trekking and nordic walking trails.
If you like being outdoors, you will be spoiled for choice!
5 – The Sebino Peat Bogs: birdwatching and nature photography
In the extreme north of Franciacorta, a few dozen meters from Lake Iseo (read also: Things to so on Lake Iseo) is this protected area. A natural reserve where you can walk in the middle of the green and, if you are passionate, do bird-watching or nature photography. The Sebino peat bogs are a marshy area that was formed due to the retreat of the waters of Lake Iseo up to the current borders.
This place was very important in the past. From the marshy waters was extracted the peat, material used instead of coal to fuel the trains of the railway Brescia -> Edolo.
If you love nature and nature photography, the Sebino peat bogs are a place not to be missed. I inform you that, although there are no turnstiles or controllers, the cost of entry to the peat bogs is 1 euro. You can find the automatic machine at each point of entry to the reserve.
Inside the peat bogs, you can follow different paths -> Here you can find the paths of the peat bogs.
6 – Visit the Monastery of San Pietro in Lamosa
Near the entrance to the peat bogs on the Provaglio d’Iseo side there is the Monastery of San Pietro in Lamosa.
The monastery stands on a small rocky rise that allows a view of all the peat bogs; “Lamosa” is due to the marshy nature of the Sebino peat bogs. San Pietro is considered to be the oldest of the Cluniac foundations in all of Lake Iseo.
7 – Abbey of San Nicola in Rodengo Saiano
Point n.7 of this article about the things to do in Franciacorta is still related to cultural aspects. This time we are in the territory of Rodengo Saiano, a short distance from Brescia. Here you can discover the Olivetan Abbey of San Nicola, a large religious complex founded by Cluniac monks. It dates back to the beginning of 1100 AD. Inside: a church, 3 cloisters, a museum, library and even a dormitory with 25 beds.
8 – Quistini Castle, the Franciacorta of castles
Quistini Castle is one of the many castles in Franciacorta. In springtime it opens its doors to visitors to admire its splendid gardens rich in flowers and plants of every kind. There are more than 1500 varieties present. A spectacular green lung just a few meters from the center of one of the most populated towns of Franciacorta: Rovato.
It will be a place that will amaze you. Obviously the best period is spring.
9 – Discovering the tastes of Franciacorta
Until now I have talked about wines and culture while leaving out the important culinary aspects. If there is a place in Franciacorta you absolutely must discover, this is Norcineria Polastri Maceler.
I had the chance to meet them during a tour of several years ago. Since that moment I have to be careful not to pass in front of their store, otherwise the desire to enter and discover new salumi/cheese is unstoppable.
In addition to the classic Franciacorta wine they have local products that you are unlikely to find anywhere else. It is the ideal place to buy some gastronomic souvenirs to take home.
10 – Shopping at Franciacorta outlet
I have to tell you about it. I’m not a shopaholic, but I’m sure some of you will be interested in item n. 10 in this article
Recently renovated and expanded, the Franciacorta outlet is a decidedly busy place on weekends. Many tourists, including foreigners, are attracted by the discounts that can be found in this open-air shopping center. If shopping is your friend, then the outlet is the one for you.
I’ll be waiting for you among the vineyards!