From the Brescia Est exit of the A4 Brescia-Padova to Lake Iseo: a patch of about 60 kilometers in which all the main beauties of Franciacorta meet. Let yourself be fascinated by the itinerary that develops through the rolling hills between Oglio and Mella, for a trip out of town full of beauties to be admired step by step, at a slow pace for those who want to dwell on every detail, or faster for those who are passing by and have already promised themselves to return calmly.
Discover Franciacorta in six steps, whose name derives from the fact that before the seventeenth century this area was called "corte franca" – meaning free court - therefore without duties or taxes: start your tour from Gussago, a town that combines various styles that have been created over time and that we meet as we leave the center of Brescia, heading north. They range from the Renaissance - but on a high medieval basis - the parish church of Santa Maria embraced by cypresses, to the sanctuary of the Madonna della Stella and its fascinating bell tower. Impossible not to be amazed by the beauty of the Villa Santissima, among small waterfalls, statues and a neo-Gothic crenellated tower overlooking the garden.
Continue your journey breathing in the tranquility of the monastery founded by the Cluniac Benedictines in Rodengo Saiano: an oasis of peace that since the 11th century allows you to stroll inside three wonderful cloisters and the works of art of the church of San Nicola. An obligatory stop before resuming your journey and discovering the castle of Passirano, which is the best preserved fortification among all those in Eastern Lombardy. Giovanni da Lezze, in 1610, described Passirano as a "plain land with a castle surrounded by ditches and walls with its gate, within which about 10 families live".
Go south for a moment before slowly climbing up towards Iseo, stopping in Rovato, considered the reference center of all Franciacorta. You can understand this by taking a tour to discover its wonderful stately buildings, from the sixteenth-century Palazzo Porcellaga, with a tower and fortified walls, to the baroque Palazzo Rovati, up to the spectacular Piazza Cavour and its arcades, interrupted only by a large arched door erected in the Nineteenth century.
Do you want to end with a bang? If you want to tell of having lived a complete experience discovering this fascinating territory, you just have to drive a few kilometers north to visit Villa dei Lechi in Erbusco, one of the most important patrician residences in Franciacorta, and the monastery of San Pietro in Lamosa, another monastery founded by the Cluniac Benedictines in 1083, which combines the dry Romanesque style with the charm of the frescoes produced between the 13th and 16th centuries. If time remains, it is worthwhile to take the trekking tour around the underlying Torbiere del Sebino, a naturalistic area of great value, perfect also for those who practice birdwatching. Don't forget to close this experience in a Franciacorta Docg winery but remember: if you have to drive, buy some excellent product so you can taste it upon your arrival! Meanwhile, every September the Franciacorta Festival awaits you with its rich calendar of events: find out by clicking here.
A land to discover:
Food and wine: Franciacorta Dogc, bubbles envied all over the world.
History: From the Cluniac Benedictine monasteries to the noble villas of Rovato and Gussano.
Territory: A strip between the hills of Oglio and Mella, a stone's throw from the A4 motorway.