In this second article covering Italy, we take a further look at some of the northern regions, namely Piedmont, Lombardy and Liguria. All three have much to offer the golfing holidaymaker, not only on the course, but also in terms of food, wine, culture and so much more.
Piedmont is located in the northwest and borders Switzerland and France. Roughly translated, Piedmont means “foot of the mountain”, a very apt title for a region that is surrounded on three sides by the Alps. More than 30 Alpine peaks, some reaching to over 3,000 metres, have acted as a boundary over the centuries and allowed Piedmont to develop in its own unique way. This is the home of the white truffle of Alba, whose intense aroma and flavour can turn the plainest of dishes into something truly magnificent.
The wine areas of Langhe-Roero and Monferrato have been included in the UNESCO World Heritage List since 2014. There are five distinct wine-growing districts within this beautiful landscape and such notables as Barolo, Barbaresco, Asti Spumante and Barbera d'Asti all come from here.
TURIN. Turin, the capital of the duchy of the House of Savoy during the 16th Century, became the first capital of a united Italy in 1861. Boasting an artistic and architectural heritage dating from Roman times, every street and piazza is a surprise to the senses and offers the opportunity to visit numerous art galleries, churches, palaces and museums.
GOLF COURSES. Having a well-established golfing network with a phenomenal abundance of golf clubs spread around the region, Piedmont has much to offer the visiting golfer. Just add stunning scenery, historical cities, amazing food and wine, and you have a wealth of experiences waiting to be discovered.
GOLF CLUB BIELLA. Golf Club Biella “Le Betulle” (The Birches) is a parkland golf course and was designed by John Morrison. It plays out over a natural landscape which is reminiscent of England in style and feel.
CASTELCONTURBIA GOLF CLUB. Built in 1898 under the direction of Count Gaspar Voli, a frequent visitor to Scotland, Castelconturbia was the first course to be built in the Piedmont region. The course fell into disrepair during the 1960’s but the 1980’s saw the club reopened after extensive work and further holes were added to bring it up to its present total of twenty-seven.
One of Italy’s largest regions, Lombardy neighbours with Switzerland. Stretching from the Alps to the lowlands of the Po Valley, it is an area which has a wide range of landscapes, of which the Lakes Como, Maggiore, and Garda understandably are of prime importance. The region is brimming with more UNESCO sites than any other part of Italy.
Traditional trattorias and multi-award-winning restaurants highlight the region’s culinary tradition with cuisine comprising of risottos, pumpkin tortelli, cassoeula and cheeses like Taleggio and Grana Padano.
Some of the country’s finest wines are grown in Franciacorta, the Oltrepò Pavese and the zone of Garda. All have world-class wineries, not to mention Valtellina, whose mountain wines have such an intense flavour.
MILAN. You just cannot visit Lombardy without visiting Milan, the European capital of fashion. A veritable metropolis for shopping, Milan is also famous for its restaurants. If it’s culture that you are after, the Gothic Duomo di Milano cathedral and the Santa Maria delle Grazie convent, which houses Leonardo da Vinci’s mural The Last Supper, are not to be missed.
GOLF. With over sixty golf courses within the region, Lombardy could be said to be where golf is most prominent. With a backdrop of the Alps, the Italian Lakes or its historical towns and cities, the options are endless.
LAKE COMO GOLF. Nine exclusive clubs with spectacular views of the lake are to be found here and several courses have hosted some of the biggest international golf events. A stay at one of the luxury hotels located around the lake or within the town of Como make this an ideal destination for golfers.
LAKE GARDA GOLF. Beautiful scenery, Mediterranean vegetation and a wide variety of world-class golf resorts welcome the golfer to Lake Garda, a real golf holiday contender. The ability to play all year round due to its warm, temperate climate opens up the possibilities for a round or two when other courses may be closed.
MILAN GOLF. Just a short distance from the business and fashion capital, you will find golf courses which will remind you of those back in England. Some of the oldest and most prestigious courses in Italy, they regularly host international tournaments and championships, and are open and available to the visitor.
LAKE MAGGIORE GOLF. Lush forests, the lake, and a backdrop of the Monte Rosa mountain range create a magical place to visit and play golf. Every course has a story to tell, diverse and fascinating, with combinations of forests, streams, magnificent views, striking fairways and lush greens.
Liguria is located in northwest Italy, wrapping itself in an arch across a long section of the Mediterranean coastline until it reaches France. Described as the Italian Riviera, the region is home to everything from rolling hills to mountains and, of course, the ever-present sea.
Liguria is rich with vineyards and olive groves, producing extra-virgin olive oils and good quality wines. Having a Mediterranean coastline, seafood and fish dishes are part of the culture, with fish soups a popular dish as well as stuffed and fried sardines.
GENOA. Described as “a beauty that tears at the soul” this, the largest of Italy’s sea ports, is unquestionably the gateway to the Riviera. For a period from the 12th Century onwards, the Republic of Genoa held dominance over the Mediterranean.
In recent years, the city has undergone a transformation, with the port area now home to the largest aquarium in Europe.
GOLF. With a host of golf courses offering a smorgasbord of choices, Liguria is a hot contender for anyone, especially those keen to be close to the sea.
CIRCOLO GOLF DEGLI ULIVI. A beautiful course set in the hills close to the coast and with magnificent panoramic views out to the sea. This is a par-69 course that is not overly long but it requires forethought and technical ability.
GARLENDA GOLF CLUB. Founded in 1964 by two British designers, John Morrison and John Harris, the course is situated in the picturesque Lerrone valley and surrounded by ancient olive groves and pine forests. The Lerrone river flows alongside several fairways and comes into play on several holes.
Italy - So much more
The unquestionable truth is that these Italian regions offer so much more than most people realise. This is a land forged by the Roman Empire, and history and culture are to be found everywhere. The only real thing to do now is come and see for yourself.
Good to know
How to get there
Most major carriers fly to all regions, with EasyJet and Ryanair providing low cost flights.
For more information, visit Italy Golf & More at www.italygolfandmore.com