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Delicious drives in Italy Milan to Scanzorosciate

This is the first of a series of three posts showcasing five secret foodie locations in the Bergamo province all easy to reach from Milan and Bergamo, provided you have a car! Weve teamed up with Hertz for the Delicious Drives project and got a shiny new Fiat 500, the ideal car to drive down up the mountains and down the tiny village backroads, yet spacious enough for all our food purchases!

Pagnoncelli Folcieri was the first stop on our foodie road trip in the Bergamo province, in collaboration with Hertz. The idea was covering 5 off the beaten track foodie locations, over a two-day period navigated using our lovely car hire.

The Pagnoncelli Folcieri winery may indeed be close to the city, but public transport is unreliable so our Fiat 500 was ideal to navigate Scanzorosciates narrow streets leading to the vineyard. We picked our car up from Linate airport, and less than an hour later we were sitting in the fresco-covered room with Francesca, ready to learn all about this unique wine.

‘My family has been making wine here since 1852 said Francesca Pagnoncelli Longer than Italy exists, in fact.

My husband and I were sitting in the degustation room of the Pagnoncelli Folcieri winery, makers of the unique Moscato di Scanzo wine.

Pagnoncelli Folcieri is one of the only 20 producers of Moscato di Scanzo, the smallest DOP in Italy. DOP means Protected Denomination of Origin, the highest tier of Italian wine classifications. Each winery only produces 800 Moscato bottles every year as you can imagine, the wine is very, very precious.

Moscato di Scanzo has a very long history as Francesca said, it was always known that wine was being made in the region, but no one knew exactly how it was, or why it was so special. Some reports claim that Moscato di Scanzo was already popular in the courts of Europe in the 18th century, and it was one of the favourite wines of Catherine II of Russia.

Moscato di Scanzo as we know it today was born only after WW2, and it is governed by a strict production protocol. Harvest is in late October, to increase sugar content. After picking, the grapes are sorted bunches are hand-checked, one by one, and every single grape that doesnt make the cut is removed, for instance when grapes are too ripe, not ripe enough or damaged. Sorting takes weeks of full-time work. Once the grapes are all sorted, they are laid out to dry on lattices, where theyre left for a further three weeks, until they lose approximately 70 per cent of their original volume. Finally, the grapes are pressed and left to ferment in stainless steel tanks for a minimum of 2 years, even though most producers leave it for longer. For instance, in 2017 Francesca was selling Moscato made in 2013.

After our tour around the vineyard where Francesca and her husband do all the work by hand, we headed back into the degustation room to sample the wine. Francesca likes pouring Moscato into cognac glasses to better release the aroma and believes that the wine is best consumed alone, with no food pairing. Its a meditation wine, a wine that invites contemplation, to be enjoyed after a meal, in good company and surrounded by beauty, she explained. I swirled my glass in the light of a sunbeam running across the table. The wine was deep ruby, with dark purple tones and reflections the colour of burnt earth. I lifted the glass to my nose and took a whiff.

What can you smell? Francesca asked. Normally, I can only come up with the usual answers berries, cherry and the like. But Moscato di Scanzo was deeper, more complex and layered than any wine I had ever had. I could smell rain and wet leaves, bourbon vanilla and rosehip, prune and tobacco. Tentatively, I took a sip, and flavours multiplied so fast that I had a hard time naming them all. There was frankincense yes, the smell of church! Francesca said there was marasca, an Italian kind of sour cherry, hibiscus, black pepper and dark chocolate, and many more. It was like walking into a perfumery and being surrounded by a myriad of captivating scents, so intense you have a hard time separating them all, scents staying with you even after youve left. Moscato lingers in your mouth its one of the wines with the most intense caudalie, the unit that measures the persistency of flavours.

It was then that I understood what Francesca meant by meditation wine. Sampling Moscato is a sensory experience so strong it makes you want to pause and listen for every sip is the result of decades of family history and months of painstaking work, pruning, pushing wheelbarrows, harvesting and sorting. A wine that speaks of the land, and of the family that is custodian of its secret.

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Hertz.

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Where will you go for Mothers Day

Why send mom some flowers in a vase, when you could take her to see exotic flowers growing in the wild? Skip the stuffed animals and plan an itinerary that includes a stop to see adorable wildlife. Dont send her a card with a picture of a tropical beach book a plane and take her there yourself! Were ready to get you started brainstorming your Mothers Day getaway. These creative destinations will make you her favorite for the rest of the year.

1. Manatees in Peru Iquitos, Peru

Manatees have a special place in animal lovers hearts. They are gentle, easy to approach, and consequently increasingly rare. But you can still see them in the portion of the Amazon River that flows through Perus Pacaya Samiria National Reserve. Theres also the Manatee Rescue Center near Iquitos. This center cares for injured manatees and releases them back into the wild. Visitors can feed and interact with the centers roly-poly baby manatees.

2. South Water Caye Belize

The South Water Caye Marine Reserve is the largest marine reserve in Belize. Belizes Caribbean waters are known for their abundant marine life. South Water Caye has impressive mangroves and smaller cayes that make lovely destinations for boating tours. Visitors who come here get to stay at a private resort, and have their own little piece of a tropical wonderland.

3. Soledad Botanical Garden Cienfuegos, Cuba

Wander the meandering trails of the Soldedad Botanical Garden. Begun over a hundred years ago by an Englishman, this garden is still flourishing. It has over 1,400 species of plants, including epiphytes, rubber trees, cacti, and palms. Look for colorful plants in the wild part of the garden, and then head to the green houses to admire the more delicate species.

4. Valle de los Ingenios Cuba

Valle de los Ingenios used to be dotted with busy sugar plantations. Today, the plantation workers are gone, but the picturesque landscape remains. Now the ruins of the mills make the rolling hills look like something from the cover of a romance novel.

5. Ibarra Northern Sierra, Ecuador

Ibarra is not at the top of the list of places to visit in Ecuador, but it has a few things that make it special enough for mothers day. Because this town is a little bit out of the way, its a peaceful place to admire beautifully restored colonial architecture, without throngs of tourists. It has a temperate climate, which has made it an increasingly popular town for ex-pats. Visit the bustling outdoor market on Saturday to browse handmade textiles.

6. San Marcos la Laguna Lake Atitln, Guatemala

San Marcos la Laguna is one of the many towns bordering Lake Atitln that has earned a hippy reputation over the years. Its easy to feel mystical looking out over the lake, surrounded by its age-old volcanoes. Check out a yoga class, and the soothing treatments available at the towns healing center. Dont leave without taking a boating tour with a guide who can tell you about the mythology of the environs.

7. Casco Viejo Panama City, Panama

If your mom is a history buff, take her on a small step back inside with a visit to Casco Viejo. This is Panama Citys oldest neighborhood. Many of the buildings here have been painstakingly restored, and some date back to the 16th century. You can book rooms in upscale hotels here that blend modern comfort with historic ambiance.

8. Yungay - Huascarn National Park, Peru

In Perus central highlands youll find the snow-capped mountains and glaciers of Huascarn National Park. Vist the ruins of the town called Yungay just outside of the park. An earthquake destroyed the town in 1970, but today theres a beautiful memorial rose garden.

9. Boquete Garden - Boquete, Panama

Boquete is a particularly lush part of Panama, with rich volcanic soil (you cant miss Bar Volcano, steaming away in the distance). Make a visit to Mi Jardn es Tu Jardn to see Boquetes vast array of tropical plants in one place. In addition to the botanical gardens, Boquete also has coffee plantations where you can sample spectacularly fresh brews.

Zach Smith is CEO ofAnywhere.

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