The Ultimate Guide to Italian Wine Regions

For wine lovers, few places in the world compare to Italy, a nation that boasts over 350 official vino varieties. Whether you prefer a crisp, dry white or a deep, full-bodied red, you’ll find your tipple of choice in this European country, where almost every region seems to have strong wine-making credentials. From the rolling hills in the north to the rich, volcanic land in the south, Italy is packed with amazing wine-producing areas. To help you plan the perfect escape, follow our guide to the top Italian wine regions.


Tuscany


Agriturismo Fattoria Lavacchio, Tuscany

Not only is Tuscany one of Italy’s most beautiful regions, but it also produces some of the country’s finest food and wine. Both Chianti and Brunello di Montalcino come from this central region whose gentle rolling hills are peppered with vineyards. The sangiovese grape (required for Chianti) is grown in this area, and dominates the flavor of Tuscan wine, which is around 80 percent red. With thousands of years of wine-making history under its belt, Tuscany is the certainly the grand dame of Italian wine production. And its warm climate is just the cherry on top.

What to Drink: Chianti, of course — preferably in Chianti, a beautiful old town around 20 miles south of Florence. 

Where to Stay: Guests who stay at Villa Le Barone in the heart of the Chianti wine region can wind down with some local tipples after a full day of touring the vineyards. The hotel boasts stunning panoramic views, a heated infinity pool, and charming, rustic rooms.  

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Sicily

Beach at Hotel Le Calette, Sicily

Beach at Hotel Le Calette, Sicily

The wine of southern Italy is as good as its pizza, and if you don’t believe us, go see for yourself. If you have to narrow it down between Campania, Calabria, Puglia, and Sicily, head for Sicily, Italy’s largest island, where the wine selection is eclectic and unique. A volcanic landscape and rich, fertile farmland make the island an ideal place for growing the grapes that lend Sicilian wine its own signature notes. From the sweet (or dry) Marsala to the super-dark, super-fruity Nero d’Avola, Sicilian wines are generally heavy, full-bodied beverages that might inspire an afternoon nap. While in the area, make sure to explore Palermo and its tight warren of streets and grand squares, Catania (home to Mount Etna), and the stunning seaside town of Cefalu

What to Drink: While in Sicily, sample both the sweet local Marsala and the famous Nero d’Avola, a deep and fruity Italian red. 

Where to Stay: Each of the quaintly decorated rooms at Hotel Le Calette have spacious balconies or patios from which to enjoy views of the sea with a glass in hand. In addition to its tranquil waterfront setting, the hotel has its own private beach.  

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Piedmont

View at Castello di Guarene, Piedmont

View at Castello di Guarene, Piedmont

Italy’s northernmost region, Piedmont, is known for its refined cuisine and wine, especially the exceptional Barolo. Visitors to the region can explore the vineyards and take trips to local wineries that have often been kept in the family for generations. Head to Turin to sample the city’s creative gastro scene before making your way to Alba and Asti, two towns at the center of Piedmont. In Alba, visit the monumental cathedral and the Fondazione Ferrero art museum in between quaffing glasses of Dolcetto. In Asti, try the city’s namesake sparkling wine — much sweeter than Prosecco — and take a walking tour of the beautiful area. 

What to Drink: Approximately 31 miles south of Turin, the town of Barolo is surely the best place to sample the amazing vino by the same name. Stop by a local vineyard and taste the region’s most exquisite export.

Where to Stay: Explore the Piedmont wine region from Hotel Victoria in the heart of Turin. The property stands on a picturesque cobbled street and includes spa facilities, beautiful Victorian-style rooms, and a private inner courtyard with a tiered water fountain. 

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Lombardy

Pool at Boutique Hotel Villa Sostaga, Lombardy

Pool at Boutique Hotel Villa Sostaga, Lombardy

Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Nebbiolo, and Franciacorta wines dominate Lombardy, a region with vineyards that can be explored via diversions to the famous lakes of Como and Garda, among others. Lombardy is one of wealthiest regions in Europe, and while it isn’t one of the country’s most prolific wine producers, you can still expect to find great vino along with fine art, museums, and good food in regional cities like Milan, Bergamo, and Como. If you’re interested in taking a wine tour, we recommend planning a road trip through the region. Beautiful routes take in the Alps, glistening lakes, dramatic hills, and Po River Valley.

What to Drink: Red wine fans should try the light Pinot Nero — a specialty of the region. Alternatively, sample the traditional Franciacorta, a sparkling wine made with a combination of pinot blanc, pinot noir, and chardonnay grapes, Franciacorta is held in similar esteem to French Champagne. 

Where to Stay: Located in in the heart of Bergamo, the Petronilla Hotel has stylish rooms with modern furniture and furnished balconies. The tiny boutique hotel attracts a cultured clientele, who come for the city’s art and historical heritage — not to mention the wine. 

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Trentino-Alto Adige

View at Villa Madruzzo, Trentino-Alto Adige

View at Villa Madruzzo, Trentino-Alto Adige

If you’re searching for the finest Italian whites, there’s no place better than Trentino-Alto Adige. Located in northern Italy, the region is home to a diverse, stunning landscape that includes the impressive Dolomites. You’ll find plenty of culture in the towns and cities within the region, from Trento to Bolzano. No matter the time of year (winter brings plenty of snow), the area provides a perfect backdrop for enjoying the local Pinot Grigio, Pinot Bianco, and — for fans of sweeter dessert wines — the excellent Muller-Thurgau. 

What to Drink: Sipping the local Pinot Grigio is a must when in Trentino-Alto Adige. However, if you’re feeling bubbly, go for a Trento DOC, an excellent Italian Champagne alternative.  

Where to Stay: A 30-minute drive from Trento, Hotel Montana is nestled in a gorgeous mountain setting with stunning vistas. The hotel also features cozy rooms with balconies, an indoor pool, and a mountain-view sauna and spa.

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Lazio

Entrance at Palazzo Montemartini, Lazio

Entrance at Palazzo Montemartini, Lazio

Although it’s not famous for its wine production, Lazio has some of the finest wines in Italy — and some of the finest locations in which to drink them (think rustic, romantic trattorias in Rome). Sample excellent white wines created from the local malvasia and trebbiano grapes. The rich, volcanic soil gives the region’s wines their own unique notes. Many of the wines here are also hard to find beyond Rome and the beautiful neighboring towns of Bolsena, Castel Gandolfo, and Tivoli.

What to Drink: Try the classic Lazio Malvasia, the region’s sweet, rich wine with origins in the Mediterranean. 

Where to Stay: Where better to sample the region’s wine offerings than in the comfort of your hotel? Palazzo Montemartini, a former 19th-century family home, mixes sleek modern style and historic details. Luxurious rooms, a full spa, and a swanky cocktail and wine bar are all part of the appeal here.

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