Must Love Wine–Roman ‘Sagra dell’Uva’ is About to Begin

Marino's Main Fountain which Spouts Wine instead of Water
Marino’s Main Fountain Spouts Wine instead of Water for the Sagra dell’Uva Festival

Marino, just 21 kilometers south of Rome, is a little hill-top medieval castle town with a big celebration of the grape every year on the first Sunday of October. Set in the famous wine-making Alban Hills, the Sagra dell’Uva is a day of merrymaking, feasting and drinking a whole lot of local wine. This same region of Castelli Romani, once a summer resort full of luxurious villas for the Roman nobility, was also famous for ensuring the early Roman Emperors had good wine to drink.


During the Sagra, clusters of grapes dangle over statues, terraces, doorways and balconies. 8063894560_f317b372ca_bFood stalls line the streets offering plates of delicious mussels, clams, olives, nuts, fruits, sweets and hot pork sandwiches called ‘porchetta.’ Medieval jousting tournaments, the Palio dei Rioni, stir up the turf while the townspeople, dressed in traditional costumes, hand out grapes and wine to the festival attendees. A colorful display of bursting fireworks tops off the evening as the celebration carries on. It gets rowdy!

Beware! Stay too late and this is what happens...they come for you!
Beware! Stay too long and this is what happens…they come for you!

It all began after the Battle of Lepanto in 1571 when admiral Marcantonio Colonna returned to his hometown of Marino following his famous victory over the Turks. More that 250 sailors were sent to the battle but came home safely.

Leone Ciprelli, a local poet, started the very first Sagra dell’Uva in 1925 to keep the victory of Lepanto alive. It has grown in popularity through the years to the degree that over 100,000 people now attend the event on Sunday. The Sagre dell’Uva is celebrated every October to give thanks for their safe return.

The big draw that everyone crowds in for is the running of the wine through the spouts of the main fountain. This happens as nightfall begins, usually around 5 pm, when the little village is transformed into a mass of excited onlookers. After the blessing, cups, pitchers and jars of all sizes are used to capture the 5,000 liters of the sweet golden nectar of locally grown wine.


Frascati is the most popular of the wines grown here, produced mainly from Malvasia and Trebbiano grapes, described as a fruity, acidic wine, with honey undertones. Several reds are also made and are available at the festival, including Merlot del Lazio and the Castelli Romani Red, Collezione Marchesini, described as a soft, fruity and easy-drinking wine made from the local Ciliegolo grapes. Just about every rural family has a vineyard that produces wine for its own use and often sold in litres at a bargain price.

This annual event costs the city approximately a quarter of a million dollars to put on but the benefits are worth it. Not only does Marino continue to promote the local wines of the Golden Goblet Wine Cooperative, which provides all of the wine, but they also keep their tradition alive which attracts tourists and puts Marino on the map.

One Miraculous Year 

On a previous year at the Sagra dell’Uva, a shout of “miracolo” was heard coming from a balcony overlooking the square of the main fountain. Evidently a woman had just filled her bucket at the kitchen sink to mop her floors and noticed that the water had been turned into wine. The neighbors as well had wine coming out of their faucets and it was thought to be a miracle. But the mayor announced that the ‘miracle’ was in fact a technical error in the plumbing. The pipes had been switched to the homes instead of to the fountain. And all of those who were crowded expectantly around the fountain in the square were greatly disappointed.

The Battle of Albenga Heats Up on the Riviera

Live four days in the Middle Ages. Shows, games of yesteryear and wine cellars open for the highlight of the summer in Albenga. 

Historic Palio dei Rioni, 2013, the historic center of Albenga 18 to 21 July 2013.

The Italian Riviera is one of my favorite places on earth, and for good reason. Not only for the music festivals, the long and languid beaches, and zipping around on my Vespa, but I am always mesmerized by the swaying palms and salty ocean breezes that cool my weary mind from a full day of sightseeing, chatting with the locals, and keeping my writings up do date. So what’s a lady on a travel assignment to do? She turns her hot little pink Vespa toward Albenga!

Albenga, a town of pre-Roman origin up the lovely Ligurian coastline from San Remo, is a lively town full of team spirit. With eighteen towers-originally there were fifty- surrounding town walls, it features a definite medieval ambience. Dancers, jugglers, knights and ladies in costume will lure you in if you happen upon this idyllic Riviera town from July 18th to the 21st. It even gets better–between the ancient alleys you will find the most splendid food and wine taverns and inns that offer the most exquisite medieval specialties served from locals dressed in complete authentic time period dress.

Liguria, Italy

The Palio is a rivalry between the four districts within the commune of Albenga. It is interesting to note the names of the districts. They are St. Eulalia, Santa Maria, San Giovanni and San Siro. Not only are the people committed to their contrada, they are fierce in competition with good nature, of course.

More than fifty wineries open, scattered around the four districts for tastings. You will be entertained by everything under the sun; fire-eaters, jugglers, musicians, duels, falconers, and tests of skill in which the districts partake in slingshot, archery, shooting with the rope and ‘Game of the medieval family.’  And of course, a beauty pageant to elect the most beautiful lady of the Palio.

Take a look at the following video to experience the ambience of the Palio dei Rioni. I could not have taken a better video.

*Palio dei Rioni Video-(highly recommended)

List of Events for the Palio dei Rioni 2013

Saturday, July 13
Press conference for the presentation of the event.
Sunday, July 14
11.00, Piazza Trincheri, affixing plaque in memory of Mr. Vincenzo Dagnino
Every day
• Eater jesters and traveling.
• Benches “teaching” of various arts and crafts: managed by experienced staff
with practical demonstrations – Archivolto Via del Teatro, Piazza San Francesco
Duels with weapons in various wards.
• Music Performance and juggling in the streets.
• Appearing armed and civil
• The Company “Jesters of the truck” with juggling, balancing on rollers,
pitchers of daggers, comedy and minstrels, fire eaters and fire-breathing
• Live music with the “Futhark”
• Educational Laboratory Medieval – Piazza Rossi
• Donkeys around
• Show with mannequins on clothing civil and military of the thirteenth century
and audiovisual comment – Old Ass At Albenga, Via Roma
• Camp in Piazza IV Novembre
Shows in Piazza San Michele:
Tournament walk among warriors in armor
• Show with melee and a fight between warriors in armor
• Performances by falconers
• Duels with various weapons
• Performances of music and juggling
Games on Friday, Saturday and Sunday
Shooting a slingshot – S. Francis 19.00;
Archery – Cloister Oratory NSdella Mercy 20.30;
Shooting with the rope – S. Michele 21.30;
• Game of “the medieval family” – S. Michele 22.30;
In addition:
Friday, Saturday and Sunday
Acrobale in Piazza S. Francesco
Thursday, July 18
17.30 Ceremony of the issue dell’Albenghino – S. Michele
18.00 Holy Mass – Cathedral S. Michele
19.00 Investiture of the captains of the districts – S. Michele
19.15 Performance of the flag wavers
19.30 Historical procession through the streets of the historic center
20.00 Opening cellars
– Representation of an assassination attempt on the mayor
and the imperial legate by assassins – Piazza S. Michele
“Re-enactment of medieval wedding” and “Wedding Party”
Rione San Siro – S. Domenico
Friday, July 19
21.30 “Medieval Feast”: Rione San Siro – S. Domenico
Saturday, July 20
21.30 “Medieval Feast”: Rione San Siro – S. Domenico
Sunday, July 21
19.30 Historical procession through the streets of the historic center
23.30 Performance of the flag wavers
23:50 hours and Election pulcherrima Puella statement
the winner of the historic Palio 2013

*Map of Albenga