Recently my husband was lucky enough to go to the Ardesio DiVino wine festival thanks to a competition win. This post is written by him based on his experiences.
What could be better on a summer’s day than to sit outside and share a glass of wine with friends? Well, for sale why not throw in spectacular Alpine scenery and some traditional Italian food? And why restrict yourself to just one glass, mind when you could sample from hundreds of the best that Italy has to offer? In fact, why not do all that, without having to give your wallet a hangover?
Less than 2 hours on RyanAir from Stansted takes you to Begamo in the shadow of the Alps in Northern Italy. A 40 minute drive up into the stunning mountain scenery brings you to the small, picturesque town of Ardesio. Normally a haven for mountain hikers, on the 1st weekend of August the town plays host to an annual wine festival, Ardesio DiVino.
This year, the festival’s 12th, saw 38 producers set up stalls in the winding streets and historic courtyards. They are mostly small, often family run vineyards, making sometimes just a few thousand bottles a year. Each is only too happy to talk (often in varying degrees of broken English) about the wines they make, what gives each one its own unique character and to share their passion. And though these are small businesses, there is no shortage of quality as the smattering of international wine awards (and my own taste buds) can confirm.
Now, I’m no wine expert. Though I know a lot more now than before I went. So if you don’t know your Spumante from your Frizzante, then fear not. Ardesio DiVino is not a cliquey get-together for the wine elite. Of the 3,000 or so visitors, many are locals who come just to enjoy some good wine in the celebratory atmosphere (which extends on the Saturday night to a big party with live music in the town square). There are also craft stalls and a dedicated food festival section to tickle any taste buds that the wine hasn’t reached.
Entry to the festival costs 20 euros per person per day. For that you get your own glass, a map to navigate around the stalls dotted through the town and the chance to sample at least 2 different wines from each producer. And by sample, I mean a generous taster portion that will give you chance to appreciate more than a few brief sips while you channel your inner wine critic. And there will be plenty left in the glass for you to check out your friends’ selections too.
Make sure to take some water with you, to keep hydrated. And a pen is handy too; with so many wines to try, it can be hard to remember where those favourites were, so it’s useful to make a few notes as you go. Especially since, with most bottles selling for comfortably under 10 Euros, you will definitely be wanting to bring some back home. The only decision harder than which wines to buy, is whether you can get one more in your suitcase without having to pay excess baggage.
Sometimes the pressures of work and daily life get a little too much and I feel the need to escape for a while. A great way of doing this is to get away for a little while and a change of scene is a good way of recharging the batteries. The thing is I don’t want to spend a fortune either, that would add to the stress instead of helping, so I’ve been looking at cheap holidays. If you look around and are a little bit flexible, you can find cheap holidays out there.
What sort of destination am I looking for? Somewhere warm, with good food and some places to visit appeals, so I’ve picked out somewhere I’ve been before that I know can deliver all of those things. Where do I have in mind? Sorrento.
Sorrento is easy to get to as you can fly into Naples airport from a lot of UK airports. The transfer time isn’t long and you’ll soon in your hotel. It’s not a place for sandy beaches (although there are some further along the Amalfi Coast), but there are still plenty of options. Most hotels have a pool and some even have a private ‘beach’ or bathing platform. You’ll be able to find a hotel terrace or a bar to sit in to drink in views like this one of Vesuvias.
We loved using Sorrento as a base for exploring as well as a place to relax in. You can take trips out to Pompeii, Positano and Capri. There’s no shortage of places to visit, including the big city of Naples itself. There are lots of coach trips which you can book onto or you can catch the train or a ferry. The ferry is a lovely alternative to the train if you are going into Naples for the day.
Are you in need of a break? Have you been looking at cheap holidays to get away from it all for a little while?