Postcards from Italy
THE BLOG OF CIU TRAVEL

The Breathtaking Wine Country of Lavaux

Rising steeply above the waters of Lake Geneva (or Lac Léman, as it is known in French), the lush terraced vineyards of Lavaux are one of the most stunning landscapes in Switzerland and a paradise for both oenophiles and photographers. Named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007 for both its unique topography and its deeply rooted history of wine making, this 2,000-acre stretch of land lines almost 20 miles of lake shore and is the epicenter of wine production in the canton of Vaud. If you are exploring the area around Lake Geneva, consider a jaunt through this magnificent wine country as a treat to both your eyes and palate.

lavauxPhoto via Flickr by harmishhk

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5 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Visit Italy

Italy is one of the most popular vacation destinations on the planet, a haven for millions who swoon for its cuisine, culture, and climate. Though the Bel Paese is our first love, we know that it may not be for everyone ...Italy poses unique challenges and hurdles that may be daunting for a first-time visitor.

bacco-felice-cr-brian-dore(Photo by CIUTravel via Flickr)

So, how do you know if you should set your sights on Italy for your next trip? Here are a few reasons why you may want to take a pass... (We’re just kidding...never pass up on Italy! Here’s how to make the trip a delight for even the most cagey visitor...)

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Out of the Fog: Nebbiolo

Nebbiolo is one of the most beguiling grapes in Italy, not least because unlike other blockbuster reds like Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon, this picky varietal doesn't like to travel. Aside from its flagship DOCG Barbaresco and Barolo, most wines from made from Nebbiolo grapes—notably Roero, Gattinara, and Ghemme—are hard to find in Italy far from their happy corner of Piedmont and virtually impossible to sample beyond the border. Even its name, inspired by the heavy fog (nebbia) that blankets the hills where these vineyards thrive during the late fall harvest, hints at its reticence at being transplanted to alternative microclimates.

barolo-wall(Photo by CIU Travel via Flickr)

So, what to do if you want to taste these enticing wines for yourself? You may just have to take a jaunt through Piedmont's incredibly picturesque Langhe, Roero, and Monferrato wine countries, but it will be worth the effort. Here's why:

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The Top of Europe: Switzerland's Jungfrau Region

If you dream of visiting Switzerland's towering peaks, crystalline lakes, and fairytale-like alpine villages, you can't do better than the Jungfrau Region in the highlands southeast of Bern. Named for the majestic Jungfrau peak, this area offers high-octane skiing in winter, heart-pounding hikes in summer, and some of the most dazzling scenery in Europe all year round.

Top of Europe(Photo by CIU Travel via Flickr)

We recently spent some time getting to know the region for ourselves, and here are our top take-aways:

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Italy's Islands: The Isole Borromee in Lake Maggiore

When considering Italy's Mediterranean islands, most people conjure up mental images of the southern yachterati hot spots of Capri, Sardinia, and Ischia...famed for their coasts lined with chic beach clubs, bustling towns full of artisan shops and designer boutiques, and luxury hotels and resorts with Michelin-starred restaurants and world-class spas. Though those generalizations are largely true for islands off the country's southern coast, as you move north the character of Italy's islands subtly shifts away from beaches and boats, and begins to favor pristine nature and historic architecture.

Dawn on Lake Maggiore(Photo by CIU Travel via Flickr)

Italy's lake islands, however, are in a category of their own. These tiny outposts lording over the waters of lakes from Bolsena to Como are often privately owned, home to defensive fortresses or sumptuous villas that either stand mysterious and closed to the curious or, more rarely, welcome visitors to stroll through and admire their lavish excess from an almost forgotten age.

Isola Bella(Photo by CIU Travel via Flickr)

Perhaps the most remarkable in the latter category are Isola Bella and Isola Madre, two of the three tiny islands that make up the Isole Borromee (Boromean Islands) archipelago in Lake Maggiore. The second largest of Italy's northern lakes, Maggiore straddles the border between Italy and Switzerland and offers stunning scenery and an elegant La Dolce Vita vibe. Strung like pearls along the lake's shores are a number of delightful resort towns, including Stresa, the perfect jumping-off spot to visit the gem-like Borromean Islands by ferry or private boat.

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