Marino Grape Festival: free wine from public fountains

30 September 2019 What's up in Rome

Where:Marino (Roma) Piazza Matteotti and Corso Trieste
When: 2019, October 4 – 7

Do you know that there’s a place in Italy where fountains give wine instead of water? And that it’s for free?
It happens once a year in Marino, a medieval town 20 km from Rome, where la “Sagra dell’Uva” takes place on the first Sunday of October since 1925.
If you wish to live and experience the “Italian Folklore” you should go to Marino!

Where

The little hill-top medieval town of Marino is just forty-minutes from the centre of Rome. Along with other 15 towns is one of the towns which make up the Castelli Romani region.  This wine-growing region is famous from Ancient times for supplying Roman Emperors.  Although Frascati is the most popular of the Castelli Romani wines, the area also produces several reds including Merlot del Lazio.

On festival day, wine instead of water flows from the public fountain so that visitors can taste Marino’s famous wine.
When you arrive in Marino, you will see that all the balconies are decorated with flowers and the statues guarding the fountains have grapes in their mouths. This is a good indicator of the happy atmosphere.

A bit of history

On 7th October 1571 the town welcomed Marcantonio Colonna, a general of the Lazio family who fought in the Battle of Lepanto with 260 of the town’s citizens. In 1925 the marinese poet Leone Ciprelli, had the idea of holding a grape festival to celebrate this event.

How does the Festival work?

In the morning there is a religious procession to thank the Madonna del SS Rosario. Then, in the afternoon, there is a re-enactment of the return of Marcantonio Colonna. About 400 town folks dressed in traditional costumes hand out grapes and wine.
At last, at around 5pm, comes the moment everyone has been waiting for: the main fountain of the town begins to flow with golden wine instead of water. Grapes and wine are distributed freely to the crowd.
In the afternoon and evening there are tasting stands and all the wine cellars of the town are open. You can buy food such as spit-roasted pork and soft bread. Or you can consume your own food in the wine cellars if you buy their wine. There are also cultural events and everyone enjoys music and dancing.

“The Miracle”

In 2008 there was an embarrassing technical error. The pipes from the local vineyard (which had to supply the marble town fountain) were erroneously switched to the domestic supply. The mayor, a priest and locals were gathered around the fountain and everyone was ready to drink and held their glasses out for a first taste of the wine from the fountain. What a disappointment when water was poured instead. Suddenly there was a cry of “Miracolo!” from a nearby house: a woman shouted from balcony that wine was flowing from her kitchen tap.

A small advice

If you are going to attend this festival you should be aware that, although tourists are welcome, it is not a show put on for their benefit. The Marino Grape Festival is a very “real” celebration for the town and things can get crowdy, particularly in the evening.