The financial and industrial heart of Italy, Lombardy has much more to offer than just the Milan fashion and design scene, the landmark “Duomo” or Leonardo da Vinci’s amazing “The Last Supper”. Football fans will probably think of AC Milan and Inter and the San Siro Stadium, also known as “La Scala” of football, whereas opera fans will dream of the real “La Scala” theatre. Milan is Milan – but Lombardy is much larger than the city and its industrial hinterland.
Tourists love the sights of Lake Como, the beauty of the mountains of Valtellina, with prominent ski stations Bormio and Livigno. The other great lakes of Lombardy, beautiful Lake Maggiore, which runs into Piemonte, and superb Lake Garda, on the border to Veneto, with smaller Lake Iseo in between, and many other sub-alpine lakes, can be found where the mountains meet the plains.
The cities of Lombardy are renowned for their beautiful monuments and historic city centres. Bergamo, Brescia and Mantova draw many international visitors every year. In Cremona, the violin building tradition dating back to Stradivari is still thriving. Lombardy’s most unique wine regions have little to envy from its neighbouring territories, but their fame. North of Lake Como, a deep, wide valley cuts through the alps. Valtellina is home to some incredibly rich Nebbiolo-based red wines, among which Sfursat – or Sforzato – is king. Made by adding freshly pressed dried grapes to the must – similar to Amarone – Sfursat has that extra sugar content, which makes the otherwise austere Nebbiolo a little richer in ripe fruit and structure.
Further southeast, in the foothills of the Alps, between the larger cities Bergamo, Brescia and lake Garda are several sub-regions, each with its own territorial uniqueness. Valcalepio is best known for international grape-based wines, mainly from Chardonnay and Cabernet or Merlot. Franciacorta has built its reputation on world-class sparkling wines, that have little to envy from Champagne, and the hills leaning onto Lake Garda are home to the beautiful white Lugana and lively reds and rosés from Valtenesi.
Further south, surrounded by rice paddies and wheat fields, Milan lies at the centre of the plains. On clear days, the view falls on the snow-covered alp peaks in the North and West and the rolling hills rising into the Apennines in the South. Here is the most ancient wine-growing land of Lombardy, known as Oltrepò Pavese, as it is the only part of this region on the south bank of the river Po, which elsewhere marks the boundary to Emilia. This is our first wine destination in Lombardy.
At Frecciarossa the vineyards are farmed organically with a careful eye on the environment and biodiversity. Attention to detail, tradition and environmental protection and cumulative know-how allow for making high quality bottles, which fully express the territory of origin with honesty. Pinot Noir, the great red grape of Burgundy has been proliferating in these lands for over 150 years and is the “queen” of the winery, flanked by Riesling and native vines Croatina, Barbera and Uva Rara. The twenty hectares of vineyards consist of clayey soils, with percentages of marl and iron, and are surrounded by fruit trees, vegetable gardens, fields and farm animals (cows, for producing manure and bees).