Italian Wine News


Marino, Italy: Quality Wines Pours from the Faucet
Staff Writer – October 15, 2008

Every year Marino, a town south of Rome in the Castelli Romani (Roman Castles) wine-producing zone, celebrates the Sagra dell'Uva (Grape Festival), an annual event held at the end of the harvest, by routing the new wine to an ornate fountain in the main square of town.

Fontana dei Quattro Mori (Fountain of the Four Moors)

This year however, citizens and visitors who gathered around the fountain at the given time with jugs, canteens, goblets and and beakers in hand, waited in vain for the yearly "miracle" to be performed by the local administration's engineers who, thanks to the the town's creative plumbing running below the streets, manage this feat.

The wine pouring from the central Fontana dei Quattro Mori (Fountain of the Four Moors) marks the apex of the festival. From the fountain, decorated with grapes for the occasion, the year's newly pressed vintage spurts forth on a backdrop of fireworks, dancing and –of course– drinking.

People kept waiting while the town's officials and technicians investigated why the "miracle" was not taking place as usual. After about ten minutes the pipes began to gurgle, however nothing happened.

In the meanwhile, housewives washing dishes or pouring water for their pasta in their homes suddenly noticed a pleasant smell of wine. In fact, instead of emerging from the fountain, the new wine surged through the pipes into surrounding homes.

The mistake was quickly reversed, but not before many quick-witted residents filled up jugs, pans and any other container that came to hand with wine. Adriano Palozzi, the embarrassed Mayor of Marino, said that the hydraulic engineers had inadvertently misdirected the flow of wine. He added that this year's "miracle" would "be talked about for some time to come around here."

The Castelli Romani wine zone has been producing straw yellow colored wine, made with Trebbiano and Malvasia grapes, since Roman times. The wine –known generically as Frascati after the well known Castelli towns– is often served as house wine in Rome's trattorias, and delivered to the table in 250-milliliter, 500-milliliter, or one-liter jugs.

Every year 3,000 liters of fresh, slightly effervescent white wine is poured through the Fontana dei Quattro Mori, erected in the 16th century to commemorate the 1571 naval victory of the Pope's fleet over the Turks, at the Battle of Lepanto, in which Prince Marcantonio Colonna, lord of the Marino Castle, played a leading role as captain.

Although the first recorded Sagra dell'Uva festival took place in 1573, two years after the Lepanto battle, the celebration is believed to date back to the Middle Ages. The festival lasts all day and includes booths with local products, floats, bands, parades and light shows. For the occasion, flowers and grapes are draped over everything.

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