Translation edited by: Arianna Cassani.
Article written by: Sara Fumagalli
In the heart of Tuscan Maremma, in an unique scenery dominated by the hills that head down to the sea, is born the Morellino di Scansano: a red wine composed by 85% of Sangiovese grapes, integrated by a 15% of grapes coming from wine varieties that produce black fruit like Canaiolo, Ciliegiolo, Malvasia, Colorino, Alicante, and also Merlot, Cabernet, Syrah and other international wine varieties.
With the grape harvest of 2007 Morellino di Scansano was awarded with the Appellation d’OrigineContrôlée et Garantie, thanks to the commitment of wine growers and wine-producers who in three years time tried to achieve the maximum quality in every single making and producing phase. But, the history of this Tuscan wine is millennial.
The materials coming from workings and rescue, exhibited in the Archaeological Museum of grapevine and wine of Scansano, testify that the wine market production was present in that place since the Etruscan Age.
Undisputed protagonists of this journey discovering the origins and the enchanting territory of Morellino are the villages.
You can get lost – it’s true – among the vineyards and the straight-laced hills of Albegna that lead You then to Scansano where You can find the Producers Association of Morellino di Scansano Wine joined by more that 200 companies and it has the aim to ensure the wine quality, through the product specification and to enhance the product in the various markets.
The itinerary that we propose encloses in about 20 kilometres four medieval villages all more spectacular. Entering inside the walls of these fortresses, clung on the hills of the Maremma region, you will immerse yourself in a distant past, where myths and legends mix with the millennial history that you can still hold in your hand.
The common thread is always the wine, and it is present in the anecdotes of the towns, passed through the inhabitants of the village over the centuries and they got on to us thanks to the historical memory of these places that is still strong and still guarded.
Montiano rises up on the top of a hillock that overlooks the county road that leads to Grosseto and from this low hill of 261 metres high above sea level starts our route. The view from here is extraordinary and the gaze stretches from Promontorio di Monte Argentario to the Islands of the Tuscan Archipelago. Through a door that enters the medieval walls, of which remain only few segments, we get to the town centre. Strolling through the alleys you get to Plebiscito Square, where You can find the San Giovanni Battista Church and the Clock Tower, both of them dating back to Medieval times. Here there’s the centre of the village and also the centre of the power: in the past years, indeed, the tower was the first residence of Aldobrandeschi and later it became the Town Hall. Today, while taking a break in this square, it seems as if You are in a sitting room where time has stopped and where you can enjoy such a tranquillity soaked in history and culture.
Once left Montiano, our itinerary continues along the vineyards of the Maremma region where many wine businesses that are placed down the county road, propose guided tours to the vineyards and wine-tastings.
Ten kilometres away from Montiano we get to Magliano, Tuscany. The first thing that hits who sees the village from the Tuscan hills are the impressive walls (built in the Middle Ages and finished during the Renaissance) that surround the whole village. The stroll upon the walls is an incredible experience. The Magliano borough dates back to 1000, the first documents of Aldobrandeschi date back to 1009, its history is a varied twine that is testified by the presence of two different types of towers: the square ones that go back to the first millennium, and the round ones realized by Sienese inhabitants that go back to 1500, built so that they could resist withstand the blows of the guns. The presence of walls with different types of towers of two different periods is a rare thing, and this makes Magliano unique of its kind.
To immerse Yourself in the atmosphere of this village though, You have to listen to the tales that people narrate in its streets, the stories that are talks of the town and were told by shopkeepers in a word-of-mouth and arrived up to the present day. On Checco Bello, a prominent citizen of Magliano of which remains the building that bears his name in the heart of the village, are told a lot of anecdotes as You can read in the book Magliano in Toscana e la SuaGente, written by VittorianoBaccetti, citizen of Magliano and considered the local historian. Baccetti, for example, tells the «sketch of the promissory note that Checco Bello had signed, and at the moment he had to pay it, he wasn’t able to pay it.When the creditor claimed for his money, Checco Bello took the title in his hands as if he wanted to pay it and then with a rapid movement he put the title in his mouth and he ate it, leaving the creditor speechless. The creditor addressed then to Cucco, mutual friend, hoping that he could intervene in his favour. Cucco calmed him down, and told him “let’s go and have a break, let’s drink some wine and then You’ll see that under the effect of wine he’ll admit that he has a debt, so with some witnesses (like the Doctor, the Chemist, the Marshal and some other friends) You will be able to demand it also in the future.” Thus, it happened. At the end of the break, everybody started singing the praises of each other. After a while, Cucco, cleverly, brought into play Checco Bello and the people around him started singing “Checco Bello is a good man” and Checco repeated it, then they sang other songs, such as “Checco Bello has eaten a title” and Checco Bello said “Checco Bello… doesn’t sing anymore”. In this way the debt was extinguished. “Checco Bello doesn’t sing anymore”, together with “You have more debts than Checco Bello”, are still manners of speaking used by the people living in Magliano and in the neighbouring towns». As you listen to one of these tales to get into the mood of this small borough, to be among people’s custom. After having listened to these stories, the stroll in the downtown has a different flavour.
You can’t leave Magliano without a stop in front of the incredible “Olivo della Strega”, registered among Alberi Monumentali della Toscana, whose age is estimated between two thousand and three thousand years old. The millennial plant is right outside the walls of Magliano, in the olive field of the Church of Santissima Annunziata and at the moment it’s fenced in because of the tourists that detach its bark as a souvenir.
Going down, along the road that leads to Sant’Andrea, two kilometres away from Magliano, in the middle of the countryside we can find the remaining of San Bruzio monastery, whose construction began thanks to the Benedictine Monks around 1000 and it was finished at the end of XII century. What remains of the ancient church is the apse with the elegant decoration made with small arches parted in couples by half-pillars. The perfect realization of the outer curtain wall, made with heavy travertine squared stones, is really evocative when the sun sets and when the light “burns” the ruins making them becoming undisputed protagonists of the surrounding landscape.
Departing from Magliano is not easy at all. The nostalgia of the past times that still have a lot of things to tell us seems to hold back even the hurried tourist. But now it’s time to go and to go up, towards Pereta.
The entrance door of this small town is 283 metres above sea level, and the highest spot is 300 metres above sea level. On the walls of the arch that leads to the town, a plaque dating back to 31st May 1959 welcomes the ones who decide to spot and visit this Tuscan stronghold:
“Logoro il tempo queste antiche mura
ma non il cor dei peretani puri
risorte sfidan secoli futuri
forti e sicure.”
Once entered the borough, people must pay attention. Pereta bewilders. It may be due to the fact that its roads develop vertically, it may be because of the pear-shape of the town that recalls its emblem represented by a tree with seven golden pears. The fact is that the cardinal directions are confused and who is convinced of being in the North is in the South and vice-versa. Once you get out of the walls of the borough and once you watch it from the outside, you get back to normality.
Over the time many poets, directors and eminent people lived in and passed through Pereta, as the local writer Claudio Terzaroli tells us while he comes with us in our stroll. The calmness of this place, that has reached its demographic peak in the Sixties when there were 600 inhabitants living in this borough, entirely surrounded by woods and brushed by three different watercourses, ensured in the past a position of supremacy on the territory surrounding. Getting in the alleys, you can reach the tower realized at the end of 1300 during the Sienese domination probably on a pre-existing quarterdeck dating back to XI century.
With its 29 metres of height, Pereta Tower represents the tallest building of the Maremma of Grosseto, and its extremity can be seen from Capalbio when the weather is good. During the San Marco Celebration, that occurs the 25th of April, the borough of Pereta enlivens for the traditional Festival of Lunghino and Palio of Ruzzola that recall many visitors and involve also people living in the neighbouring towns. The Palio is a tradition that started in the 19th Century and continued until the post-war period, then, it re-started at the beginning of 1980s. Today, thanks to the commitment and to the passion of the Tourist Board “I 4 Scudi” of Pereta, still grows and gains notoriety. The gastronomic side of this event is represented by the Festival of Lunghino, a traditional hand-made pasta made with water and flour. The programme establishes different moments of historical remembrance and the Palio of Ruzzola, in which four different districts challenge themselves in in throwing the wheels of cheese. The main event is the Historical Cortège through the roads of the town, organized by the Ministry of Tourism. The Pereta Festival was awarded in 2011. The Festival of Lunghino and the Palio of Ruzzola, among all the re-enactments that promote the history and the Italian traditions, are considered the ones which better represent and maintain the local traditions. The main protagonist remains the wine.
Some Sangiovese grape can be tasted in the vineyards, but also in between the alleys and the roads of the boroughs, taking advantage of the bunches of grapes that come out of the gardens of the ancient houses, then in Scansano the magic happens. Our route brings us to the winery of Morellino di Scansano and its Consortium is the international reference point. You can’t miss the chance to visit the “City of Morellino” and You can also do a wine tasting of its best wines, while getting some information on its history and culture. The roadmap that the Archaeological Museum of Grapevine, located in the Palazzo Pretorio, will surprise You for the quantity of materials guarded there and it will surprise You also because of the evocative site in which they are displayed. “In vino veritas”: hope You can have a nice breakthrough!