Spend a weekend in Lombardy (Lombardia) and be rewarded with fascinating history, stunning natural beauty, the rush of city life and the authenticity of a classic wine region. Choose luxury, discoveries and relaxation on vacation or a night at home with wine, food and family…all inspired by Lombardy!
Lombardy: A Rich Region
Lombardy is well-known for certain things, though not singularly or necessarily wine. This isn’t because of a shabby production; the voice of Lombardy bears a citified and luxe tone and perhaps leaves behind the vineyard delights that take time to discover. There’s Milan: moneyed and high-fashion, the sort of place one goes to work, be pampered or power-shop. There’s the lakes: sought after Lake Como and restful Lake Maggiore. There’s a grand scale of nature: play in Alpine sportiness or gaze at the lowlands of the Po Valley.
Lombardy is in a good neighborhood, so to speak. Piemonte shares a border, as does Switzerland. The region is known for artisan cheeses, local produce and hosts a share of Michelin rated restaurants, all outstanding partners for the local wine. It’s not that Lombardy doesn’t have a sit-back-with-a-glass of wine capacity…it just saves it for the weekend.
And on the weekend, a treasure at the end of the hunt, there is indeed outstanding wine. From the westernmost Oltrepo Pavese region with a 3,000 year old wine-making history, to Franciacorta and it’s well-respected bubblies, to the high-altitude reds of Valtellina Superiore, Lombardy has much to offer wine-lovers.
To experience a taste of all that Lombardy has to offer, consider spending 36 hours in the region to soak up the energy and atmosphere of this diverse and captivating area.
Friday Night In Milan
Book a suite at Hotel Magna Pars Suites, which walking distance from Porto Genova Station. Wine lovers will be impressed by the wine cellar for the hotel bar, Liquidambar, and the personal bar in each suite. Chef Fulvio Siccardi, resident chef at Da Noi In prepares seasonal Milanese meals. Make dinner the long and luxe collection that it should be, in the hands of an outstanding Italian chef and a skilled sommelier.
Follow dinner with drinks at La Cieca Enoteca. La Cieca does wine tasting like nowhere else. There are two menus: the white menu (with the names of the wines listed clearly) and the black menu (revealing only the cost of the wine and a “fantasy” name). If ordering from the black menu, wine is served in a dark glass as to avoid revealing any impressions. Patrons are asked to guess the wine by nose and taste only. Questions to bar staff can only be answered with “yes, no or maybe”. Guess right and the glass of wine is free!
Saturday Milan Snapshot & Road Trip
After coffee and a pastry at one of Milan’s coffee bars, it’s time to choose your own adventure for the morning. The day includes a road trip to Lake Como (Lago di Como). The drive will occupy around 2 hours, more if sightseeing deviations are a priority along the optional scenic route which follows the edge of the lake. Take the morning to see a choice of sights of Miliano: tour the Teatro alla Scala muesum; Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Duomo di Milano or stroll about the fashion-forward Quadrilateral to shop and people watch. Visitors that have booked entrance in advance can view Leonardo’s Last Supper (Cenacolo Vinciano) at the Basilica di Santa Maria delle Grazie.
Luxury on the Shores of Lake Como
Upon arrival in the village of Lake Como (on the shore of the lake of the same name) check into your private villa or luxury room at Castadiva Resort, an opulent historical hotel dressed in luxurious lake views. Enjoy the poolside lake views or take an afternoon nap in your suite or villa with the balcony windows thrown upon to the lake breeze. Order in a chilled bottle of Prosecco to toast the good life in one of Italy’s most relaxing, historic and luxurious settings.
In the evening, expect to be served traditional food and wine from Lombardy. The onsite Orangerie restaurant,promises a captivating combination of local, seasonal products prepared in traditional regional methods. Gastronomic, creative and meticulous menus and wine list are the threshold of quantity for the guest experience at Castadiva.
Sunday Morning Rewind
Enjoy a full breakfast on your personal balcony or on the grand terrace overlooking the lake. If time allows, Castadiva offers a full-service spa; a Sunday morning facial or massage will steep muscles in the relaxing contact of Lake Como treatment. Return to Milan to catch international transportation, or continue the weekend by driving to Oltrepo Pavese, Franciacorta or Valtellina Superiore see the vineyards, meet the winemakers and taste the vino of Lombardy.
Lombardy At Home
L’occasion blog is about “reasons for wine”… Life is beautiful, small things shine, love and laughter are the true passports to bliss. Luxury begins at home. Travel is born from who we really are, the connections to the universe and planet that start with us, with our curiosities and harmonies… we seek the experiences that balance us.
In our home we reserve time for harmony and luxury through meals we create together and the evenings spent sharing a bottle of wine with family or friends. To celebrate Lombardy, my husband and I prepared a meal from regional inspiration balanced with our own preferences.
I’d read about saffron being used to prepare a Milanese risotto. The story of saffron cultivation is incredibly compelling. Saffron is actually the dried stigmas of the saffron crocus. Imagine nearly 80,000 blossoms, and the people that hand-pick their stigmas, that comprise a single pound of saffron. I have a very small supply of saffron and used a tiny portion of to prepare a vegetarian gnocchi meal that I paired with a Pinot Grigio from Lombardy.
The wine comes from vineyards in Pavia and is made from 100% organic Pinot Grigio grapes. To create the meal, I sautéed gnocchi in olive oil, crushed red pepper and chopped garlic for about 10 minutes. Remove the gnocchi when it crisps and browns. De-glaze the pan with some of the wine and add more oil, wine and two cups of sliced fresh mushrooms. The mushrooms cooked for a bit and I had a small glass of wine (most important part of this recipe). Add the gnocchi back to the pan along with two handfuls of fresh spinach, a cup of chopped tomato and two cans of rinsed white beans. A few shimmies in the pan with salt, black pepper and more red pepper flakes, then cover while the spinach warms. Serve hot with generous application of fresh Parmesan or a PDO cheese from Lombardy.
While American visitors to Italy often aim southward, towards Rome, Florence, Venice or the Amalfi coast, Lombardy can be easily accessed From France or Switzerland and would be a reasonable stop on a European tour or road trip. Pair Lombardy with Switzerland, Provence, Tuscany or the Italian Riviera and spend more than 36 hours in this captivating, cultured, polished and promising part of beautiful Italy.
#ItalianFWT — Food, wine and travel
Join our Twitter chat Saturday May 7th at 10am CST @ #ItalianFWT to chat about Lombardia. Plus, don’t miss next month as we feature our last region of Italy, Liguria. This will complete our first full tour of Italy. See you June 4th!
Vino Travels – Chiavennasca of Lombardia vs. Nebbiolo of Piedmont
The Wining Hour – Vines and Views of Valtellina Valley
Culinary Adventures of Camilla – Sbrisolana and Cantina Casteggio Barbera
Girl’s Gotta Drink – Visit Franciacorta Wine Region: Italian Sparkling Wine For the Win!
Enofylz Wine Blog– Franciacorta: The World Class Italian Sparkling Wine of Lombardy #ItalianFWT
Food Wine Click – Valtellina: Another Expression of Nebbiolo
Orna O’Reilly – Sirmione: Pearl of Lake Garda
The Palladian Traveler – Spritz Campari: Milan’s Passionate Red Cocktail
Cooking Chat – Grilled Halibut with Parsley Pesto and Wine from Lombardia
L’Occasion – 36 Hours in Lombardy (thanks for reading)
Vigneto Communications – Lombardia: A Wealth of Wine
Photo Credit links on Wikipedia Commons:
Thank you, talented and generous photographers!