The Oltrepò Pavese (Italian pronunciation: [oltreˈpɔ ppaˈveːze]; Western Lombard: Ultrepò Paves) is an area of the Province of Pavia, in the north-west Italian region of Lombardy, which lies to the south of the river Po.
Extending over an area of c. 1,100 km2 (420 sq mi), it is roughly triangular in shape, with a base to the north formed by the Po and a southern apex at Monte Lesima (1,724 m (5,656 ft)), a mountain of the Ligurian Apennines which is the highest point in the province.
To the west it is bounded by the Province of Alessandria (Piedmont) and to the east by the Province of Piacenza (Emilia Romagna). The territory comprises a plain close to the Po, a hilly section, which rises from the Valle Staffora to the west and from the upper Val Tidone to the east, and a mountainous zone which in addition to Monte Lesima includes the peaks of Monte Chiappo (1700 m) Cima Colletta (1494 m) and Monte Penice (1460 m). The main watercourse is the Staffora; other streams include the Ardivestra, the Versa and the upper part of the Tidone, including part of the Lago di Trebecco reservoir.
The principal settlements are Voghera, Casteggio, Broni, Stradella, Santa Maria della Versa, Salice Terme and Varzi.
The region became part of Lombardy in 1859.
Though frequently called “the Tuscany of the North of Italy”, the Oltrepò Pavese in Lombardy is fairly unknown abroad.
The area offer several attractions: smooth hills, medieval villages and castles, panoramic views, authentic Italian food and local wines. The Oltrepò happens to be the largest wine producing area of Lombardy and one of the largest in Italy, especially of the Pinot noir. The landscape is scattered with vineyards that are freely accessible for hikers or even mountain biking.
Regional dishes uses the seasonal ingredients like mushrooms and truffles, the local meats of rabbit, wild boar etc. The Varzi salame is a protected product (like the Parmesan cheese).
The Oltrepò Pavese region is responsible for more the half of all wine produced in the Lombardy region as well as two-thirds of its DOC-designated wines. This region along the Po Valley, was once a part of the Piedmont, but has always had Milan as its primary market. Today it produces a DOCG sparkling wine with its Pinot nero (Pinot noir) grapes and a rose sparkling wine denominated Cruasé. In addition to sparkling wines, the Oltrepò Pavese also produces red wines from the Pinot nero, Barbera, Croatina, Uva Rara and Vespolina. There are some small plantings of Cabernet Sauvignon that are starting to appear as varietal wines. The white wines of the region are made from Riesling Italico (Welschriesling), Riesling (Riesling Renano), Chardonnay, Cortese, Malvasia, Moscato, Pinot grigio and Sauvignon blanc. The Pinot nero grape is also vinified as a rose and as a white, non-sparkling wine in addition to being made as a standard red wine.
The sparkling wines of the region are made in several styles. The wines labeled “Metodo Classico” are made according to the méthode champenoise of the Champagne region. The wines are composed primarily of Pinot noir with up to a 30% blend of Chardonnay, Pinot bianco and Pinot grigio. Slightly sparkling frizzante styles are made from several of the region’s red and white wine grapes including the dry Buttafuoco style and the semi-sweet Sangue di Giuda (meaning Judas’ blood) both made from the Croatina grape, known locally as Bonarda. The Moscato grape is also made into a frizzante style as well as liquoroso fortified wine and passito dessert wine.
How to get to Oltrepò Pavese?