frequently called the Tuscany of the North of Italy, the Oltrepo Pavese in
Lombardy is fairly unknown abroad. Tourists pass the area closely when
travelling to the real Tuscany, to Umbria or further south. This is a pity as
the Oltrepo really offers something worthwhile for almost every tourist,
especially food and wine lovers.
area offer several attractions: smooth hills, medieval villages and castles,
panoramic views, authentic Italian food and local wines. The Oltrepo happens to
be the largest wine producing area of Lombardy and one of the largest in Italy,
especially of the Pinot Nero. The landscape is scattered with vineyards that
are freely accessible for hikers or even mountain biking.
Oltrepo Pavese is part of the province of Pavia, in the southern part of
Lombardy. Oltrepo literally means “on the other side of the Po”. The Po river
runs through the large plain in the North of , the pianura padana, where the risotto
rice is produced. In the south of Pavia province the terrain quickly gains
height. The Oltrepo is situated at the foothills of the Ligurian Alpes and
Oltrepo Pavese offer peace and quiet, tranquility and the silence (while
strolling in the vineyards for example) is often overwhelming. Life still has a
slow pace here, as the locals are living the life in more or less the same way
their ancesters did: growing wine is a labor that follows the seasons, year
after year, generation after generation. Most of the wine farmer families have
bee living here since the Middle Ages.
any tourist business has developed here, which means, fortunately, that as the
one of the few visitors from abroad, you are encountered with amazement and
hospitality everywhere. People are enthusiastic to serve you their local
traditional food and wine at all of the little family restaurants that populate
the area. The food that is served is the food that Italians want to eat out, it
has to have “mama” quality! Prices are ridiculously low.
of the area are the local sparkling wines, the “vivace”, “frizzante” and also
“spumante” wines. Reds and whites sparkle without being just sweet. The most
famous local wine, the Bonarda is fruity but not sweet, in contrast to the
Lambrusco e.g. A local, more classical wine is the Buttafuoco, the production
of which is restricted to a small area in the North of the Oltrepo. A typical
sweet red wine of the area is the Sangue di Giuda. The regional champagne-like
spumantes have made it to the Italian DOCG category.
dishes are simple but very effective. Using the seasonal ingredients like
mushrooms and tartufi and the local meats of rabbit, wild boar and the likes,
delicious dishes are prepared. One thing not to be missed is the typical Sunday
“pranzo”or lunch in which all of the
servings of the Italian menu (antipasti, primi, secondi, contorni, dolci) pass
by, sometimes even twice. The Varzi salame is a protected product, like the
For more info on the region, see the website of Villa I Due Padroni Bed & Breakfast.