Also called “Festival of the Lumaghitt,”St. Johns festival dates back to earlier times when the townspeople liberated themselves from hailstorms that would appear in June and destroy the harvest. According to legend, the people sought the protection of St. John the Baptist by taking a solemn boat ride out to Comacina Island where a church stood that was dedicated to him. From that time on, the hailstorms ceased to exist and the trek to the island became an annual event, followed by many festivities and nighttime luminaries.
During the festival, it became a tradition to eat snails and polenta. Somehow, the empty snail shells were filled with oil and a wick was added to make small luminaries. From this came the name lumaghitt.
The fires ignited on the island and floating rafts also carry another meaning. In 1160, the people of Como, as an act of revenge against the Comacinians who joined with Milan to destroy their city in 1127, burned the island and all nine churches.
The festival takes place on Comacina Island at Tremezzo on Lake Como.
The Lumaghitt begins at dusk on Saturday, June 22nd, with fireworks beginning after 10 pm.
In Italy, more than a third of those working in wine are women. A new wave of feminine vintners is taking the boot by storm. From all regions across Italy’s domain, women are making their mark in the previously male dominated world of winemaking. These women are bringing a fresh new way of looking at wine, their land and the produce it brings by growing and developing organic, natural grapes with no chemicals.
The Antinori sisters from Florence are spearheading their 627 year old winery, being the first women in 26 generations of the Antinori lineage to have any significant role in the family’s winery. All three sisters are involved in public relations in addition to running their winery with their father, Piero Antinori.
The Antinori legend began in 1385, when Giovanni di Piero Antinori first entered the Winemakers Guild of Florence. Today, the wine industry has become an ultracompetitive global business, where they distribute their wine across the world.
A cutting edge cantina deep in the heart of Chianti is the Antinori’s newest project. This polished underground cellar made of terra-cotta and local stones, is hidden under olive groves and rows of grapevines.
Albiera sums up nicely her family’s winemaking priority. “The liquid in the bottle has to embody the soul of the people who make it. Nothing is more important than that.”
Elisabetta, a single parent of four, makes wine from the Teroldego grape. Her winery is beautifully nestled in the Trentino Valley, shadowed by the Dolomite Mountains of northern Italy. Her top Teroldego is called Granato, a stunning red said to be polished and refined. Elisabetta uses old terracotta pots to ferment her wine and has a fascinating way of wrapping her grapevines.
Nicoletta’s wines come from sustainable organic and biodynamic agriculture. Originally from Milan, she bought vineyards in the Turin area from elderly neighbors who could no longer take care of them, and from whom she learned much of her winemaking techniques and skills.
Poderi Sanguineto I & II, Dora’s winery, makes Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and Rosso di Montepulciano. Her brothers had no interest in working in the wine business, so Dora took it on and loves it. A natural comedian, she enjoys telling the story of how she had a run in with a wild boar and has many scenes butchering things….one tough lady!
A non conformist in many ways, Arianna grows the Nero d’Avola and Frappato grapes. Her wines are considered earthy, mysterious and intriguing much like her. Her vines are uniquely trellised, growing up and around in a circular motion. She is known to produce an excellent olive oil as well.
These women of the vine are bringing a unique freshness to the winemaking world. Confident, independent, and wise, they continue to show originality and capability in producing top-notch world-class wine. They are intensely in love with their land and lovingly, passionately grow and cultivate their grapes into the magnificent wines for which they are known.
As Allegra Antinori puts it, “women choose the wines more often than men, and they are often more intuitive about food pairings and far more experimental. Having a woman involved in every aspect from winemaking to marketing has made a major difference in the company’s growth. Wine is emotional, not rational. It has a lot of personality, and people who are not wine experts are starting to understand subtle differences. Women especially embody that.”
Do you happen to know of a woman vintner who is making incredible wine? I’d love to hear about it. Please share in a comment below.