The Wines of Italy

Citalia recently held a virtual wine tasting event with some of our valued guests. We were joined by Richard Bampfield, Master of Wine, and our very own Senior Regional Destination Manager, Heather Green. Our two experts treated guests to a trip around Italy from the comfort of their homes sharing their knowledge about the wines from each region as well as destination expertise. Guests prepared their charcuterie boards, invited their friends round, and sipped on the varied vinos.  

Italians love wine. You can find Italian restaurants all over the world and they’ve taken their wines with them. Home to more different grape varieties than anywhere else in the world, every province across Italy produces wine. Join us as we take you on a wine tour of Italy stopping off in Campania, Veneto, Sicily, and Tuscany.

Richard Bampfield
Richard Bampfield graduated from Cambridge University before heading off into vineyards and cellars around the world. He passed the Master of Wine Exam in 1990 so has over 30 years’ experience in the world of wine. He offers regular wine tastings, consultancy and writes tasting notes for Lidl.
a person standing on a bridge over a body of water
Heather Green
Heather Green has worked for Citalia for over 20 years and has travelled the country extensively. She is fluent in Italian and loves Italy just as much as we do! Heather works hard to source hotels throughout Italy that are of the high standard we and our guests expect.

Stop 1: Campania – Bellamico, Falanghina Beneventano

First stop on our tour around Italy was the beautiful region of Campania. Richard introduced us to a lovely white and highlighted that it is in fact our sense of smell that informs the taste of the wine. We learned that DOC status applies to the protected region of where the wine comes from and is not a guarantee of quality, but rather a guarantee of origin. 

This dry white wine, Bellamico, Falanghina Beneventano provided a little bit of flavour on the palate, had a certain fruitiness with hints of apple and would pair well with light fish or pasta dishes. 

Heather shared her love for Campania with us and expressed that it is one of the most beautiful areas in Italy, not just for scenery but also for food and wine. Famed for its simple dishes with fresh, seasonal ingredients and lots of fish, Campania is a true taste of Italy. 

There is so much to see in Campania, an area steeped in history with a stunning coastline. Campania is home to Italy’s 3rd largest city, Naples, as well as the breathtaking Amalfi Coast and the islands of Capri and Ischia. Sorrento shouldn't be missed and is the gateway to so many world famous places in this area.

Naples is gritty, vibrant and chaotic. It was founded by the Greeks, is steeped in history and is fascinating to explore. It has a beautiful location alongside the bay, has a great food culture and is full of stunning architecture.

The Amalfi Coast is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is made up of 13 villages known as "pearls". Heather recommends the “Path of the Gods” walking trek where you’ll be rewarded with sensational aerial views of the coastline. 

Moving on to the islands, Capri offers the glitz and glamour of Italy with high end hotels, spectacular marinas, rugged natural scenery and is steeped in history. Ischia is sometimes overshadowed by its famous neighbour but is perhaps Italy’s best kept secret with thermal springs and a more laid back, authentic atmosphere.

Cilento lies in the southern part of the Campania region and is relatively undiscovered, in our Hidden Italy: Cilento Blog we have uncovered some of the areas best kept secrets. The amazing temples of Paestum provide some of the best Greek temples outside of Greece. The region is known for its quaint harbours, characteristic villages, stunning beaches and the National Park of Cilento.

Our pick of hotels in Campania

Botania Relais and Spa, Ischia
  • Discover Italy's hidden gem, the Green Island of Ischia
  • Enjoy a sophisticated stay at an exclusive Mediterranean spa resort
  • Soak up the healing powers of natural thermal springs
Palazzo Murat, Positano
  • In the colourful town of Positano on the Amalfi Coast
  • Close to Positano Beach
  • Onsite restaurant showcasing the finest Italian cuisine

Stop 2: Veneto – Bardolino Chiaretto

We then moved north to the region of Veneto, home of Prosecco, for a taste of a nice rosé wine, Bardolino Chiaretto. This wine was produced in the vineyards to the east of Lake Garda and had a little bit of spritz to liven the palate. Dry, lightly fruity, and easy to drink, this rosé comes from a family producer who believe there are three key ingredients for a good wine: “sun, the heart and the love”. Impressive on the first mouthful, it is understated and effortless – and that’s what makes a good wine! 

Richard’s top tip for this rosé is to use frozen fruit to keep the wine chilled, suggesting strawberry to add a delicate flavour. Also noting the UV from sunlight can make wine in clear bottles go off so be sure to keep your bottle in the fridge to keep it fresh. 

The region of Veneto stretches as far as the Adriatic and to the snow-capped Dolomite mountains. The variety of the Veneto region makes it great for exploring.

Italy’s floating city, Venice, can be found in Veneto and is built over 100 islands and is truly unique. Venice used to be the main trading point to the Orient and has always been a commercial and affluent city. Heather recommended going off the beaten track and visiting the lesser known areas particularly Le Zattere (which translates to timber), and is the area of the city where gondolas used to be made. Or head to Cannaregio where you can discover the authentic food culture and sample some cicchetti. Be sure to get out and about first thing in the morning to appreciate the true beauty of the city. 

A trip to Veneto is not complete without visiting the “city of love”, Verona. Piazza Bra is the main square and is home to the amphitheatre which is older than the Colosseum in Rome. Here you’ll get to spend a night under the stars at the Verona Opera Festival which is held annually. The atmosphere is electric and promises to be an unforgettable evening even if you are not an opera aficionado.

The largest of Italy’s lakes, Lake Garda, can also be found in Veneto. It is so large that the western shore is in Lombardy and the eastern shore is in Veneto! The northern part of the lake is narrow and surrounded by mountains whereas the south is much wider and flatter making it great for family holidays and for walking and biking. There are lots of picturesque towns surrounding the lake and each has its own ferry point so it’s easy to get around. Bardolino and Lazise are Heather’s favourites as you can just sit and watch the world go by with the colourful harbours and cobbled streets. 

Our pick of hotels in Veneto

Corte Valier, Lake Garda
  • In the charming town of Lazise
  • Occupies a prime location on the shores of Lake Garda
  • Contemporary guest rooms with side or front lake views
  • Great Spa & Wellness centre
Londra Palace Venezia, Venice
  • Stunning location overlooking the lagoon
  • Ideal base for exploring the city's main attractions
  • Favourite with Citalia guests
  • Boutique hotel offering excellent service

Stop 3: Sicily – Nero d’Avola

Heading to the south of Italy we socially sipped on wine from the island of Sicily with a bottle of Nero d’Avola. This is the main red grape on the island and Richard let us in on a secret that the best reds tend to come from the volcanic soil around Mount Etna. Flavoursome, refreshing and smooth, this wine isn’t too dry and doesn’t have a lot of tannin in it, making it the perfect choice for a glass of red in a Sicilian restaurant.

Sicily is an exciting source of wine and is the largest island in the Mediterranean. It's a very unique island and this diversity is due to the fact it has been ruled over thousands of years by the Arabs, Spanish, Greeks and Normans. All of these civilisations have left their influence on the island. Defined by the three C’s: culture, cuisine and calm, it makes for the perfect multicentre holiday

Heather shared some of her favourite places on the island and started us off in Taormina with its cobbled streets, artisan shops and beautiful verdant gardens. Its Greek amphitheatre still hosts live shows today, more than 2,000 years after it was built. 

We then moved south to the beautiful city of Syracuse. Home to some of the most intricate architecture in Italy, it was the most important Greek city and today you can retrace ancient civilisations through every step in every street.

A visit to the towns of Noto and Ragusa, famed for their stunning baroque architecture is also recommended.

The seaside town of Cefalù is also well worth a visit with its pretty harbour, sandy beach, winding streets and imposing Norman cathedral.

The island's capital Palermo is not to be missed. It's a cultural melting pot which is reflected in its cuisine. Famous for its street food, don’t miss experiencing the enticing food culture.

To explore Sicily further click on the link below to see the lesser known destinations.

Our pick of hotels in Sicily

Grand Hotel Et Des Palmes, Palermo
  • Five star hotel in the heart of Palermo
  • The hotel features a wonderful mixology bar
  • Beautiful views across the city
Hotel Villa Belvedere, Taormina
  • Secluded location on the hillsides of Taormina, above the Ionian Sea
  • Just ten minutes from the centre of Taormina and its many attractions
  • Family run and offering great Sicilian hospitality

Stop 4: Tuscany – Talosa, Chianti Colli Senesi

Ah, Tuscany, the home of Chianti. Our final stop on our tantalising tour of Italy was of course the picture-perfect hills of Tuscany. Our bottle of choice was Talosa, Chianti Colli Senesi found in the vineyards to the southeast of Siena. 

A bit different in style, this red offered some really nice flavours. Savoury in character with a little bit of tannin, it pairs well with many dishes as it’s not too heavy, a classic Chianti. 

Tuscany itself is fantastic for exploration with its art, history around every corner and its rolling countryside, not to forget its long stretch of coastline. 

Heather took us on a tour of the region stopping off in Florence first. The art scene thrives here with the Uffizi Gallery and the famous Duomo. You can take a walk along the banks of the Arno River admiring the world-renowned Ponte Vecchio which dates back to the 13th century and is home to jewellery makers. 

Our two experts also introduced us to the Wine Windows of Florence which were a safe way for shopkeepers to sell wine and food during the bubonic plague in the 1600s. There are around 285 wine windows in Florence with most of them centred around the Old Town. 

We then headed to the stunning city of Siena which is located in the Chianti countryside. The heart of the city is the Piazzo del Campo where 17 districts compete in the Palio Horserace in July and August every year, maintaining traditions dating back centuries.

From Siena head to the gorgeous town of San Gimignano which is know as the “Manhattan of Tuscany” thanks to its 13 medieval towers which were built by noble families and you can appreciate the breathtaking views across the Chianti Hills. 

The Tuscan Countryside is characterised by rolling hills, valleys, Cypress trees, sunflowers, poppies and ever changing landscapes. It is also very well know for its numerous hillside towns. Montepulciano is one of the highest towns and here they produce the famous vino nobile.

For some sun, sand and sea, base yourself in the coastal town of Viareggio or Forte dei Marmi where you can benefit from easy access to the rest of the region. Be sure to experience the Puccini Opera Festival from here in the summer months.

Our pick of hotels in Tuscany

Grand Hotel Continental, Siena
  • Housed in a magnificent 17th-century palazzo
  • Located in central Siena, a five-minute taxi ride from the train station
  • Close to Piazza del Campo, famous for its medieval horse race
Palazzo Leopoldo Dimora Storica, Radda in Chianti
  • Located in the stunning medieval village of Radda in Chianti
  • Elegant restaurants with authentic Tuscan flavours
  • Rooftop deck with amazing views to enjoy the hotel's extensive wine collection

Discover the Real Italy with Citalia

At Citalia we have 95 years’ experience in tailormade holidays to Italy. Our Italy Experts have travelled all over the country so they can help you design a trip that suits your requirements. At Citalia we pride ourselves on ensuring you Travel with Confidence. So, what are you waiting for? Andiamo! 

Suggested Destinations & Trips

Call us today to speak to one of our Italy Experts for further travel advice, hotel recommendations or to begin planning your next Italian holiday.
Feefo review image

What our customers think

We have been helping our customers discover the real Italy for 95 years now. Our experience and expertise, together with our attention to detail and personal touch, really does make us the leading Italian holiday specialist.

Read guests reviews...
Request Your Quote
Request a Brochure