Wondering what to do with yourself until the season starts again? Maybe it's time to reward your non-shooting (and seasonally neglected) other half with a luxurious break and take a tour through Italy's vineyards ...
If you’re in need of winning back brownie points with your partner then this might just do the trick. Imagine waking up in a Tuscan palazzo, surrounded by Chianti vineyards. Or perhaps a 12th-century castle in the heart of Barolo? Here’s some inspiration for a luxury tour through Italy’s finest wine regions…
Palazzo Lantieri Friuli-Venezia Giulia
Begin your journey in the northeastern wine region Friuli-Venezia Giulia — land of beautiful white wines and with a rich Austrian-influenced history. Palazzo Lantieri is set in a stately 14th-century courtyard right in the historic centre of Gorizia, near the Slovenian border. Its grand rooms are said to have hosted the French royal family, Napoleon, Goethe and Casanova. They have gorgeous parquet floors and vintage furniture, the breakfast is also rather special. Visits are on offer to the Italian and Slovenian wine cellars of Collio, home of the famous Collio Bianco wines.
Recommended by Simon Woolf, food and wine writer with his own wine blog The Morning Claret
Nearest airport Trieste – Friuli Venezia Giulia
Villa Abbazia Prosecco country
For lovers of premium Prosecco DOCG, travel to the opulent Villa Abbazia, a Relais & Châteaux recommended 5* hotel. It’s not only luxurious but also wonderfully quirky and family-run, with a Michelin-starred restaurant to boot. Be sure to leave enough time to visit the famous cloistered Cistercian abbey opposite. It’s well-positioned in Follina, on the ‘Prosecco road’ between Vittorio Veneto and Valdobbiadene, as well as being a 20-minute drive from Cartizze.
Recommended by Fiona Sims, who has been a food, travel and wine writer for over 20 years
Nearest airport Venice Marco Polo
Byblos Art Hotel Valpolicella
This is the place for lovers of art and Amarone, situated only a few kilometres from Verona in the heartland of Valpolicella. Imagine a 16th-century Venetian villa with gardens, frescoes and ancient relics combined with a contemporary art museum. As a hotel it boasts designer bedrooms, spa, swimming pool and a gourmet restaurant.
Nearest airport Verona Villafranca
Castello di Sinio Piedmont
No wine tour would be complete without visiting the the home Barolo, often cited as the ‘king of wines’. In the northwestern region of Piedmont, this 800-year-old castle dominates the hamlet of Sinio, and it’s surrounded by vineyards producing some of the greatest Barolo wines. Expect sumptuous rooms and a warm welcome from owner Denise Pardini, who also happens to be an expert on Barolo and Barbaresco wines.
Recommended by Lonely Planet’s Wine Trails © 2015
Nearest airport Cuneo International
SEE ALSO: History of Wine in 100 Bottles: Barolo
Porto Roca Cinque Terre
A journey south of Piedmont brings you to the coastal region of Liguria, most noted for the UNESCO world heritage site of Cinque Terre, which has been a vine-growing area since medieval times. Porto Roca is a peaceful bougainvillea-clad villa nestled in the clifftops, with impressive views across the azure bay — best appreciated from the seawater infinity pool. The top rooms are furnished with pieces from the owner’s antique collection and have balconies with sea views.
Recommended by Sarah Lane, a wine, food and travel writer who has lived in Italy for more than 20 years
Nearest airport Pisa
Castello di Ama Tuscany
Travel down the Italian Riviera and over the inland hills of northern Tuscany, and you have reached Chianti country. A soul-stirring experience is guaranteed at Castello di Ama, a 20-minute drive from Gaiole, where husband-and-wife team Marco Pallanti and Lorenza Sebasti have been producing the finest of Tuscan wines since 1985. In recent years, the couple have opened up their home, first to top contemporary artists and more recently to discerning tourists. Sip Castello di Ama’s fine wines by the glass on the terrace as the breeze stirs white drapes and you look out over the vineyard.
Recommended by Helen Farrell, editor-in-chief at The Florentine Italian travel website
Nearest airport Florence
Li Finistreddi Sardinia
If you would like to escape to the island paradise of Sardinia, head across the Tyrrhenian Sea to Li Finistreddi — a bucolic retreat near the vineyards of Gallura, famous for its Vermentino wines. This hillside resort has swimming pools with views of the Maddalena archipelago, and you can dine in its own Osteria Gourmet with an extensive wine cellar. Explore the nearby seaside village of Cannigione and its world-class beach.
Recommended by Carla Capalbo, a food, wine and travel writer based in Italy and London
Nearest airport Olbia
The regions of southern of Italy are not to be overlooked, Puglia is celebrated for its powerful Primitivo and Negroamaro wines. Stay in the Grande Albergo Internazionale in Brindisi, just above of the Salice Salento DOC wine district. This elegant and monumental hotel takes the centre-stage of the harbour, and is a few steps from the city’s many piazzas.
Recommended by Carla Capalbo
Nearest airport Brindisi — Salento