The Italian vineyards of Tuscany are spread throughout the wine region, extending from north of Pisa to Florence (Firenze), from Sienna to Montalcino and Montepulciano, from south of Livorno to the border with Latium and Umbria, and finally to the island of Elba. In addition to the famous Italian wines (Chianti, Brunello, and Vino Nobile) there are countless less well-known wines waiting to be discovered. With the prices of some of the best known Tuscan wines going through the roof it is well worth searching in relatively unknown areas. The Italian wines from the wine region around the little town of Lucca are reasonably priced for their quality.
The region of Veneto is a veritable paradise for lovers of nature, history and gastronomy. The region has been successful in agriculture for centuries. Stretching from the Dolomites in the north to the fertile Po valley and from Lake Garda to the Venetian coast, everything seems filled with the joy of living. The landscape is gently undulating, green and inviting. The climate is ideal, moderated and mildly continental in the north and Mediterranean in the south.
The vineyards of this famous denomination are situated on alluvial soil deposited in the distant ice age between the right shore of Lake Garda and the city of Verona. Wine has been made here since before the time of the Roman empire in this wine region.
Liguria is one of Italy's smallest wine regions but is also one of its most beautiful. Liguria wine region is sheltered to the north by the foothills of the Apennines, which make a small paradise of the area.
Most vineyards are sited on the lower slopes facing south and towards the Mediterranean. It will be difficult to find any Ligurian wines outside Italy although some Cinqueterres are exported.
Trentino-Alto Adige wine region also known as Südtirol, is bounded to the west by Lombardy, Veneto to the south, and Switzerland and Austria to the north. The principal towns of Trentino are Trente (Trento) Alto Adige (German speaking), and Bolzano.
The wine region is bisected by the river Adige, the second longest river in Italy. In the north of the region the climate is continental while in the south it is less severe and warmer. Trentino-Alto Adige is somewhat of a transitional zone between Austria in the north and Italy in the south.
Italy resembles a boot with a wide open thigh piece. We are now leaving the upper part of that boot and moving towards its middle. Emilia-Romagna wine region is south of Lombardy and Veneto, extending from Liguria to the Adriatic. Emilia-Romagna is separated from Tuscany and the Marche in the south by the Apennines. For Italy, this wine region is remarkably flat and this gives the local wines a character all of their own among Italian wines. The name of Emilia- Romagna probably says little to most people about the region of origin of these wines but the individual vineyards are readily pin-pointed.
Sardinia region is an island of much contrast. There is a gentle coastal strip, rugged and precipitous mountains, lots of tourist attractions, and unspoiled places where nature flourishes. Sardinia is second only to Sicily in terms of the sizes of Mediterranean islands. Much of the land is mountainous. Vines are concentrated at the foot of these mountains, in the valleys, and on the flatter areas along the coast, where most also people live.
Umbria region is bounded in the east by the Apennines and, in the north-west by Tuscany, and in the south-west by Lazio. Umbria is one of only five regions in Italy that does not have any coast, being a fairly small region in the interior. Umbria's history of wine-making goes back some time but the area has not always been associated with quality wines. The climate here is difficult to cope with (very cold winters and extremely hot summers).
Lombardy (Lombardia) region lies right in the centre of northern Italy running from the foot of the Alps to the Po valley. Various tributaries of the River Po flow from the Alps, of which the best known is the Tieino. The wine region is characterised by water and it is home to four huge lakes: Lago Maggiore, Lago Como, Lago Iseo, and Lago Garda (Lake Garda etc.in English).
Sicily is one of the largest wine producing regions of Italy but the inhabitants here drink less than elsewhere in Italy so that the Sicilian wine industry is heavily dependant on export. No effort or money has been spared in recent years to expand these exports and the wine industry on the island has undergone a major revolution in the past twenty years. The full-bodied and sultry sweet Muscat and Marsala wines which were once the island’s pride have been improved where possible, while new modem-style wines have been increasingly marketed. In addition to the famous DOC wines huge quantities are also made here of excellent Indicazione Geografica Tipica (IDG) and Vini da Tavola.
The Marche region is bounded to the west by the Apennines, Umbria, and a corner of Tuscany, in the north by Emilia, to the south by Abruzzo, and in the east by the Adriatic. The entire wine region is crossed by countless rivers which flow from the Apennines to the Adriatic. The vineyards mainly thrive in these river valleys (the Conca, Foglia, Metauro, Cesano, and Tronto). There are three centres of wine-growing outside these valleys near Castelli di Jesi, Ascoli Piceno, and Ancona.
Campania is an elongated region on the Tyrrhenian Sea in south-western Italy. The fortunate country-side of Campania felix was much appreciated by the Romans. Naples, the capital of Campania, is one of the liveliest cities in Italy. The cultivation of vineyards in Campania region is yet another proof of how skilled the ancient Greek and Roman wine-growers were.
The region wine of Lazio extends from the Apennines, where it borders Umbria, Abruzzi, and Molise, to the Mediterranean. It is bounded to the north by Tuscany and to the south by Campania. The river Tiber plays an important role in the local wine-growing and the capital city of Rome is the region’s largest market. The majority of the vineyards of Lazio are close to Rome. The other Italian wine region are found near Montefiascone in the north of Lazio, between Rieti and the border with Abruzzi, and north of Frosinone in the south of the region.
The region of Abruzzi is bounded in the north by The Marche, to the west by Lazio, and to the south by Molise. The eastern boundary is formed by the Adriatic. Except for a small strip of land along the coast, the rest of Abruzzi consists of hills, mountains, and valleys. The climate varies from Mediterranean on the coast to continental in the mountains. The best place for cultivating vines has to be chosen with the utmost care.
After leaving Italy’s ‘boot’ you enter Basilicata before reaching the toe of the boot, which is Calabria. The region is named Basilicata (for a long time it was known as Lucania). Basilicata has a fascinating landscape, that is rugged and unspoiled and dominated by a mountainous interior and short stretch of superb coast. Basilicata lies on both the Tyrrhenian and Ionian Sea and bounds Campania in the west and Puglia in the east. The regional capital of Potenza is certainly no tourist hot spot.
Sea, The Straits of Messina, and the Gulf of Squillace. The Greeks once regarded Calabria as the Garden of Eden. The cultural inheritance can be found in towns such as Cosenza and above all Reggio di Calabria. The ancient Greeks founded the wine-growing in Calabria but all the old and famous wines have more or less disappeared and are forgotten, but something of the Greek civilisation can still be touched on with an old and matured Ciro. Superb white and rosé Italian wines are made here but the area is most famous for its red wines.
Puglia is one of the largest wine producing regions of Italy. It is found in the extreme south east of Italy, forming the ‘heel’ to the boot shape of Italy. The coastline of Puglia with both the Adriatic and the Ionian Seas is extensive. To the west Puglia borders Campania and Basilicata and to the north with Molise. Puglia’s landscape is entirely different to the bordering regions. There are no mountains, though a couple of high plateau. The climate is distinctly Mediterranean, hence hot and dry. Fortunately wine-growing and making has improved enormously in recent years throughout Puglia and work is well under way to further improve both the quality and individual identity of the local wines.
For many years Molise was linked with its northern neighbours of Abruzzi. Many websites still give the wine area as Abruzzo e Molise. This is because the quality of Molise Italian wines was too low for a DOC nomination. The quality has improved so much in recent times that Molise now has DOC for a good Italian wine.