Forget Tuscany. Enjoy Israel's very own version!

The northern Galilee is becoming Israel's answer to the premier Italian vacation spot.

grapes 88 (photo credit: )
grapes 88
(photo credit: )
Touring exotic wineries nestled into rolling green hills, munching on the delectable local cheeses and settling into quaint bed-and-breakfasts for the night. Sound like the perfect Tuscan vacation? Israelis don't have to cross the Mediterranean to experience it, though. The northern Galilee is becoming Israel's answer to the premier Italian vacation spot. Recently, The Jerusalem Post had the opportunity to experience much of what the romantic region has to offer in an introductory excursion for journalists. Wine down with a glass of Israel's finest Sisters Liora Bega and Revital Conricus own and operate the tour company Lir Bagalil, which specializes in Galilee-oriented tours. The main attraction at Lir Ba'Galil is "Sipping Friday," a weekly tour through the wineries of the Galilee combined with a taste of the authentic cultures of the region, and an optional lunch in one of the area's restaurants. The tour, designed for vacationing weekenders, starts at 10 a.m. near Kerem Ben-Zimra and ends around 4 p.m. Participation is limited, and reservations should be made before Thursday night. The tour costs NIS 150 without lunch and NIS 250 with lunch for one person. For further details contact Conricus at 050-892-4365 or visit Bed down in a well-designed cabin The northern Galilee has no shortage of quaint guesthouses, and bed and breakfasts to cater to every vacationer's needs. One place that stands out is Makom Ktzat Acheret [A Little Different Place] at Moshav Hazon, between Safed and Karmiel. Each of the six suites is fully equipped and designed to overlook the area's beautiful landscape while still maintaining a sense of privacy. And if the kids tag along for the weekend, they can enjoy each cabin's child-friendly second floor. Makom also boasts a small pool, sauna, hot tub, and spa treatments. Visitors receive a complimentary bottle of wine, and the price of NIS 740-1,100 per night per couple includes breakfast as well. An additional NIS 80 is charged for each child. For more details, visit Speed down mountains in ATVs Once you've had enough of the bed and breakfasts' amenities, take a 180-degree turn and charge up with a number of extreme sports that offer an alternative way of exploring the region's signature mountains and valleys. Galilee Attractive in Moshav Safsufa, situated at the foot of Mt. Meron, offers All-Terrain Vehicle rides around the area. You can also tour the area by jeep, on horseback, bicycles or even by carriage. Safsufa also offers other extreme sports, such as rappelling, zip-lines and more. Once you've gotten your thrills, relax in the tranquil tent encampment, where you can sip herbal tea, snack on homemade sweets and breathe in the fresh mountain air. The prices start at NIS 120 for an hour for the jeep trek. For more information, including prices and all-inclusive deals, call 054-426-1369. If you're drawn more to the competitive side of sports, check out Kart Race in the Circassian village of Rehaniya, north of Safed. Though designed with children in mind, the medium-size go-kart race track also caters to adults' need for speed. The track has a computerized system to determine the fastest driver, as if the finish line weren't proof enough. Prices run at NIS 40 for 10 minutes of track time. Kart Race is open daily until late. For more details call 04-6989076. Chow down on local cuisine No vacation would be complete without a good meal, and Ein Camonim fills that last gap in your visit to the northern Galilee. An independent farm on the Amiad road, between the Kadarim and Karmiel junctions, Ein Camonim has been operating as a restaurant and a dairy farm for more than 20 years, and its cheeses are sold across the country. If Ein Camonim's NIS 84, all-you-can-eat special doesn't get you, the rich food and lush surroundings will. Meals include dishes of goat's milk cheese, freshly baked whole-wheat rolls, a variety of homemade salads, homemade fig jam, lemonade, wine, desserts and hot drinks. All the food served at the restaurant is locally produced, short of the wine. Large groups can ask about the tour to the Ein Camonim goat farm and visitors enamored with the food can buy cheese to take home at the gift shop. The restaurant is open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. For more details, reservations (especially during weekends and holidays), call 04-698-9894 or visit