The Free Wine Fountain in Italy
A place where wine runs free from fountains, surrounded by nature and Italian culture... sounds too good to be true.
Have you ever walked past a fountain and wished for the water to come out as something else? Imagine a fountain that drenches your thirst with freshly squeezed lemonade or refills your pints with draft beer. A town in Italy has something that many of us can only dream of; a fountain filled with Italian red wine!
The relics of St. Thomas the Apostle are located at the end of the Cammino di San Tommaso, The Way of St. Thomas in English, a 196-mile pilgrimage from Rome to Ortona, Italy. If you make it to the small community of Villa Caldari di Ortona, you'll be rewarded with some of the most excellent wine in the area from a local winery. During the winery's business hours, a fountain of wine is provided a few miles before the journey's finish. Dora Sarchese Vini has built a fountain outside their tasting room, located off the Strada Statale, to relieve thirsty travellers. The fountain, which comes from a faux wine barrel, is made up of two brass spigots set in a stone basin that pour free glasses of red wine to everyone who comes by—pilgrims or thirsty tourists alike.
The fountain is the result of a collaboration between Dora Sarchese's owner and the Cammino di San Tommaso's promotion and maintenance organisation. The goal is to encourage more people to visit the Basilica and walk the pilgrim path created by Saint Bridget of Sweden in 1365, who travelled from Rome to Ortona twice in honour of St. Thomas. According to Dora Sarchese Vini, the fountain is a gift to the Cammino di San Tommaso and a way for the winery to help convey its message. The goal is to attract more visitors to Ortona and give them enough food to get them through the final few miles. However, one glass per person is requested. It isn't for "drunkards or louts," according to the proprietor.
The Way of St. Thomas
The Way of St. Thomas is a natural, spiritual, and cultural route that connects the town of Ortona in Rome, which has housed the Apostle's relics since 1258, with St. Peter's Basilica. The Way is also a modern pilgrimage, known locally as "pellegriviaggio," following in the footsteps of Saint Brigida di Svezia, who journeyed to Ortona between 1365 and 1368 after learning of the existence of St. Thomas' bones in the city's church. As at Santiago de Compostela, the model of which was used as an example by the Way of St. Thomas to unite Lazio and Abruzzo, history provides a beginning point for discovering, with modern forms, the activities of travel.
Walking allows visitors to discover some of central Italy's most important natural parks, including the Regional Natural Park of the Castelli Romani, the Regional Natural Park of the Monti Simbruini, the Regional Natural Park Sirente – Velino, the Gran Sasso National Park and Monti Della Laga, and the Majella National Park, through spectacular paths, ancient mule tracks, and stretches of farm road. Important sites of worship, mediaeval abbeys, Castelli, and outstanding specimens of art and culture that locals have preserved for generations can all be found. The environmental guide Massari Alessio, Vice President of our Abruzzo Routes Association, devised and constructed the "Way of St. Thomas" path. He chose a journey that connects faith and nature, culture and tradition, to cross the Apennines from Rome to the Adriatic.
If you are looking for a challenge or cannot take any longer without the satisfying sip of red wine, then the Way of St. Thomas might be the perfect fix! Upon finding out about the pilgrimage, it was not long before I added it to my bucket list, and I cannot wait to go.
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