Top 5 Italian Wines

In addition to iconic works of art, welcoming people and wonderful food, Italy is also often noted for its great variety of wines. Tracking down the right wine in the right region can be a bit of challenge. We’ve assembled a list of some of our favorite varietals and where to look for them, but if you find yourself in any doubt, stay local. No matter which Italian region you’re exploring with VBT, a great vineyard with delicious wine won’t be far off.

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1.  Chianti Classico

On any one of our Tuscan Vacations, you’re sure to find ample opportunities to sample a Chianti or two. Perhaps the best opportunity presents itself on our Tuscan Hill Towns by Bike​ vacation. We’ll make our way from Florence to Rome, straight through the heart of Chianti Classico country. So if you’re an avid biker with a taste for deep, dry reds, then you’ll certainly enjoy your time spent on and off the bike in Tuscany’s hill towns.

2.  Rosso della Maremma Toscana

Partly made up of the premier grape in Chianti Classico – sangiovese – Rosso della Maremma is a smooth red blend, often with notes of cherry, plum and even a hint of chocolate. Take advantage of the chance to sample wine at the beautiful Fattoria di Magliano on our Tuscany by the Sea vacation. One of their signature offerings is Sinarra, a delicious example of the Rosso della Maremma varietal.

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3.  Pinot Grigio

If you’re cycling through northern Italy and the crisp mountain air sweeping through the Dolomite Valleys has you in the mood for a dry white wine, then you’re in luck. This region produces some of the most notable Pinot Grigios in the world. Balanced and bright, this young white will be light in your glass and on your palette, complimenting the range of cuisine you’ll find in northeastern Italy.

4.  Primitivo

Moving south, into the Puglia region of Italy, you’ll find a wine that’s always in a bit of a hurry. Its name, Primitivo, is a reference to the grape’s tendency to ripen very early. As a result, this complex wine offers a vibrant range of flavors. But don’t let the name rush you. Be sure to take some time on your Puglia Vacation to sit back, relax and savor a glass or two.

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5.  Nero D’Avola

Though its title may have already given it away, this bold wine, indigenous to Sicily is very dark in color, but surprisingly easy to drink. Up until a couple of years ago, you’d have to go all the way to Sicily just to taste it. Fortunately, the varietal has recently made a splash in the international wine scene and you can now find it in many American wine shops. But don’t worry—we’ve got a great Sicily Bike Tour in mind if you’re up for an exciting, and delicious adventure.

Like Nero D’Avola, all of the wines mentioned are readily available without making the journey to Europe, but with nine different ways to Travel Italy, VBT is sure to have a biking, walking or skiing vacation that will tempt you all the way to the Mediterranean.

Top 10 Tips for Active Travelers

VBT Vacations aren’t your average getaway. Our guests travel with us to be immersed in local culture, to eat great food, drink excellent wine and to stay active as they explore. At VBT, we believe that being actively involved in your vacation is the only way to travel. A little preparation can go a long way in assuring that you get the most out of your destination, wherever you decide to go. So our veteran travelers and our team of associates came to the rescue, offering up some great suggestions to help you really get in touch with local life and to feel comfortable while you’re doing it.

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1.  Learn a bit of the Language

One of the best ways to get to know local culture is through chatting with residents. Dick J. advises learning a few basic phrases in the local language before you arrive. Offering a pleasant “Hello” in the native tongue can be a great ice breaker, helping you interact with locals. And let’s face it; at some point in your journey, you’re likely to need to ask where the bathroom is.

2.  Test Your Skills

If you happen to strike up a conversation, put your language skills to the test. VBT Owner, Caroline Marston, says she likes to try out a couple words or phrases with a local and asks them how she did. You won’t always pass with flying colors, but it will certainly be good for a laugh. And who knows? You might get a little history or a bit of information about the local dialect for your efforts.

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3.  Research Before you Leave to Experience as Much as You Can

Kate P. recommends doing a bit of exploring before you even leave for your vacation. Use your VBT info packets, browse our Blog or take a look at your favorite travel publication to get a sense for the culture and the land before you arrive. Your interactions are likely to be all the richer for the research.

4.  Don’t Over-Pack

Resist the urge to try to pack your entire closet. Harold R. encourages us to pack light. “You will be in your bike gear most of the time, so you can bring less regular clothes… Don’t worry about making a fashion statement.” Save your energy for biking, walking and exploring; not lugging around your wardrobe.

5.  Lighten Your Load

VBT Content Manager, Kyla, recommends dressing in layers through your whole vacation, from your flight to your ride along the Tuscan Coast. Sporting a few layers will keep your bags lighter at the airport and they’ll keep you comfy on your bike no matter what the weather’s like. And we provide a bike bag to hold your layers as you shed them!

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6. Plastic Makes Perfect

Janet, in Document Services, always brings a couple plastic bags when she’s traveling. They hardly take up any room in your luggage, and by the end of your vacation when you’ve got some dirty clothes or maybe a couple of damp articles, you can pop them in a plastic bag and still stow them safely with the rest of your things.

7.  Keep your Cash Flowing

Anne, from our Technical Operations team, advises that you get a little bit of cash in the local currency before you leave your own country. That way, if something comes up, from a souvenir to a sandwich, you’ll be ready right away. Marketing Assistant, Leila, suggests you call your bank before you travel to let them know that you’ll be outside of the country. When your local currency runs out, just use your bank card at an ATM to fill back up. You’ll pay a small fee, but it’s usually much less than you would pay at a currency exchange office.

8.  Slow Down

One of the best reasons to Travel with VBT is that we’ll take care of all the arrangements so that you are free to explore, and our pacing allows you to do so. Sure, you’ll visit the Duomo in Florence or the Louvre in Paris, but Marketing Assistant, Al, recommends you leave some time open for a little spontaneous exploration. Do a little people-watching over an afternoon espresso, take a picnic to a public park, you never know what kind of discoveries you’ll make. After all, some of the greatest experiences abroad tend to happen by chance.

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9. Make Your Own Adventure

If you’re a little short on serendipity, VBT Owner, Gregg Marston, has a great trick for prompting a little interaction with the locals. “I always try to get a haircut. I find it to be one of the best non-touristy cultural discoveries. I can always count on a great interaction when explaining that I only want a ‘little trim.’ Try saying that in Polish or Hungarian!”

10. Keep an Open Mind

Remember, wherever you may be traveling to, you’re there for the experience. Things will be different from home, and that’s a good thing. Try to take it all in. Watch how the locals interact, listen to how they speak, taste their local specialties, let your reservations go and really get into all of it. You’re likely to find your vacation more rewarding and your memories even richer.

What’s your secret to a successful vacation? Let us know in the comments section below.