The Inside Story from Italian Wine Merchants

Three Things When Planning for Italy

Posted on | April 15, 2015 | Written by Garrett Kowalsky | No Comments

The hills of Barolo

The hills of Barolo

In just three days the Kowalsky Clan begins its Italian adventure. My brother, Justin, and I are taking along our parents for their first journey to Italy, and to say that we are all excited is a bit of an understatement. You could even say that I am ecstatic. For nearly five years I have completely immersed myself in Italian wine and culture. The idea of finally being able to walk through the vineyards and feel the soil beneath my feet, or to be able to sit down and enjoy a traditional meal from the place that created them—it’s a little overwhelming.

Much of our planning has taken place in the last few weeks, and I’ve learned a few things that I did not know before. I wanted to share a few pieces of knowledge that might be helpful for you if you’re planning a trip to Italy’s wine regions:

1) Consult an Italian Calendar: Be aware of international holidays. I discovered that one of the Saturdays during my family’s trip falls on Italian Independence Day. Needless to say, most places we aimed to visit will be closed, but we did manage to come up with some cool ideas relating to the holiday with the help of one of our hosts. That said, Italy is not like the US; they take their holidays very seriously. It’s not always easy to find alternate plans, so be aware.

2) Patience in Estate Planning: Booking winery visits in Tuscany is exponentially easier than in Piemonte’s Barolo or Barbaresco. At the forefront of the agriturismo movement, Tuscany is prepped for all kinds of visitors because many of the estates are larger properties (even the elite ones), so they frequently have rooms where you can stay. Even more helpful, they often have someone who speaks English on hand to answer the phone. This has made things a breeze. Barolo and Barbaresco are a much different story. These estates tend to be tiny family-run properties that do not have receptionists or tour guides. They are quite welcoming, but you need to be prepared for a little bit of work in this region.

That said, we’ve planned visits to Giuseppe Rinaldi and Aldo Conterno in Barolo, and in Montalcino, we’ll be staying at Canalicchio di Sopra and visiting a few other Brunello estates.

3) Affordability is Now: Travel to Europe is more affordable now than it has been in years. At this very moment the Euro conversion is $1.07 US Dollars, one of the lowest rates it has been in years and certainly less than the $1.31 I experienced when I went to France in 2013. We are booking gorgeous hotels in Barolo and Florence for $100-125 a night. You can barely stay at a Hampton Inn stateside for that.

That said, I can’t wait to land in Italy, and I look forward to sharing my experiences with you upon my return!

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