Franciacorta is a hilly area situated between Brescia and the southern end of Lake Iseo.
When talking about Franciacorta the thought goes immediately to the extraordinary wine produced in the area south of Lake Iseo in the province of Brescia. But in addition to the wine cellars and large expanses of vineyards, the area offers history, medieval towers and ancient sixteenth century palaces, castles and small villages and of course nature that can give you breathtaking views. All just an hour or so from Milan.
If you’re going to Franciacorta you must absolutely treat yourself to a long walk along the Sebino Peat Bog Nature Reserve, a green lung made of reeds and ponds! The large reserve is home to 17 species of birds that nest and stop during their migrations as well as many aquatic and land animals, some of which are really rare. You can listen to the chirping of the nightingale that wanders through the reeds. And, if you’re lucky, you can also see cute little hares sneaking along the path. For birdwatchers it’s a real paradise!
However, the Reserve is a place rich in history and above all the result of human intervention. In fact, right here, in the eighteenth century and throughout the nineteenth century, the reserve was used for the extraction of peat that was dried and used as fuel instead of coal. Until the beginning of the twentieth century it was a real productive activity that employed the population of the territory. Today, on the contrary, it is a place of peace, where you can relax and enjoy the spectacle of nature around you.
One of the gems of this territory are the abbeys, full of history, art and culture: in some of them still live monks.
The Cluniac monks, who were part of the congregation of the Order of St. Benedict, had an important role not only from a spiritual point of view, but also from an economic, political, social, artistic and cultural point of view. For example, they were responsible for the system of vineyards in rows and it was thanks to them that many small churches were transformed into monasteries.
Like the Abbey of San Pietro in Lamosa, which dates back to the year 1083 and is a jewel to be discovered, recognized by the Ministry of Cultural Heritage as a “tied heritage” because it is unique of its kind: the monastery houses a series of frescoes ranging from the eleventh to the sixteenth century. Until the end of 1600 it remained in the hands of Cluniac monks then became private property. Today the historical, artistic and cultural heritage of the abbey is preserved and enhanced by the San Pietro in Lamosa Foundation.
Another abbey to see is that of San Nicola in Rodengo Saiano, one of the largest religious complexes in northern Italy. Beautiful the three cloisters that, built in three different moments, give a sense of peace and serenity.
Next door is the fifteenth-century church dedicated to St. Nicholas, also rich in wonderful frescoes. Founded before 1050, the abbey was entrusted to the Benedictine Olivetan order of Monte Oliveto Maggiore in 1446 and served as a resting place for pilgrims on their way to Rome. Today the monastery is guarded by 9 monks who live from work and prayer and can be visited every day by appointment.
Franciacorta is one of the most important sparkling wine areas in Italy. Franciacorta wines are produced from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Blanc and Erbamat, an ancient grape variety of Brescia, and as provided for by the regulations the only production system is the Metodo Classico, here called Metodo Franciacorta. Franciacorta DOCG sparkling wines stand out for their elegance and freshness, and are increasingly appreciated both by enthusiasts and critics, not only from Italy. The cellars are among the most modern in Italy and the quality level of Franciacorta sparkling wines is getting higher and higher.