Category Archives: History

Winery visit — La Palerna

Today my friend Elizabeth Wholey arranged a wine tasting and lunch for us. It was a pretty day and we took off north — way north. To the very top of Umbria. It meets up with Tuscany and to the east Le Marche. Three regions. This winery is not in a wine region. It is in an unlikely location. And they are focusing on the Pinot Noir — Pinot Nero — wine grape. Also an unlikely choice. The winery is called La Palerna. It is at an altitude of 650 meters. High above the upper Tiber valley. Owned by Luigi Merendelli and his wife Paola. They own a large packaging company called Vimer. Here is the view from the winery.

We were greeted by Rosanna. She has worked for the Vimer industries and the family in different capacities for a long time. She is Swedish born but was raised in Luxembourg. She married and moved to the Upper Tiber Valley with her husband who is from here. Now she is in charge of sales and marketing of the Palerna winery.

We toured the property with the permission of Paola to include their beautiful grounds.

Rosanna took us around the property. We saw some of the vines and also the orto, or vegetable garden.

Orto, well fenced in to protect from the animals
Sangiovese leaf.
Pinot Noir leaf
Vine, Pinot Noir, has red stems
Sangiovese has green stems. See the baby grapes?

Next we toured inside the winery. These are the methode champenoise bottles. They are turned a quarter turn every week and slightly tipped higher. It encourages the sediment to slide into the neck where it can be popped out before corking.

Rosanna provided us with a lovely antipasti to complement the wines we tasted. They are very proud of their Methode Champenoise sparkling wine. Nudo di Palerna. 100% Pinot Noir.

She sources her food locally. We had a big platter of toasted bread drizzled with their oil.

We had the Mozzarella di Bufala from la Fattoria Montelupo. I buy mozarella often. I am a huge fan of the cheese made from the milk of the water buffalo. It is famed from down south in Campania. I’ve had it a number of times and am always blown away by the rich creaminess. It is NOTHING like common mozzarella. Well, I am here to tell you this is the real deal. Made from the milk of water buffaloes just north of us. The fat in both the olive oil and the cheese is cut by the sparkling wine which is why it’s paired. A marriage not to be beat!

Next we tried their Rosatto. Or Rose to us. Made from Pinot Noir and Sangiovese grapes.

She paired this one with meats. Salami and cured ham or proscuitto. Also from a local producer – Azienda Agricola Pigolotti. Along with a plate of bruschetta with pomodori…tomatoes.

Next we had. This was an everyday quaffing wine. Only €8.00. This is a normal price for decent but not fancy wine. We had this one with two local cheeses. Both pecorino.

Then, the prized Pinot Nero. This is not a normal grape here. We have only seen it at one other place near Orvieto. Sr. Merendelli fell in love with the French Pinot Noir and decided to dedicate much of his vineyard to this grape.

And finally Cospaia1441. It is made from Merlot, Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. It is nice with a lot of fruit and boldness. But the best part is where it got it’s name. It seems the border between Tuscany and the Papal State of Umbria was not fixed. There was constant fighting. So, finally, in 1441 the two agreed the small river running from the Marche down to the Tiber river would be the border. The north would be owned by Tuscany and the south would remain a Papal state. Due to a technical error, they seemed to not mention an island in the river. So it was neither Tuscany, nor Umbria, but a free and independent republic for almost 400 years! The label has a floating island on it held up by balloons. The motto of the land was “perpetua et firma libertas” — “firm and perpetual liberty”.

Here are Rosanna and my friend Elizabeth.

An excellent excursion. Other than a bit of haze it was a beautiful day. Let it be the first of many more!

Etruscans been here

I have been meaning to write about the purported Etruscan building up the river from us. The only mention I could find about it was in Wikipedia. “The nineteenth‑century archaeologist Mariano Guardabassi attributed this small building in the settlement of Lame, about 1 km from the center of the modern town, to the Etruscans although this is by no means certain.” I’ve been intrigued by the building since I first walked past it. Now seems like a good time to write a post about it, since not much is happening around here right now.

The earliest evidence of a culture that is definately Etruscan dates from about 900 BC. The people we call Etruscans called themselves Rasenna. The Romans called them Etrusci or Tusci. The Tivere (Tiber) river was the dividing line in ancient times, between the Rasenna/Etruscans to the west of the river and over to the Mediterranean, and the Umbras to the east. But there was an expansion in around 500 BC which crossed the river over to the foothills of the Apennine mountains. Our little building is on the east side of the river near the water.

Here is a picture of the Etruscan arch in Perugia. Perugia was originally settled by Etruscans and was one of their main cities. They have an amazing well, the arch, and a very good museum. I’m sure there’s more. The photo of the arch below is attributed to Wiki Media Commons.

Now for the picture I took of the little building near Umbertide. I took a series of photos of this building last fall and I’m going to have them printed and framed. This one is of the front of the oddly shaped building. I think it has five sides. Maybe six. None are equal. And I think the only part that is Etruscan is the center and the arch. You can see the different stones. I guess it’s been repurposed over time. It sits on a farm. Anyway, I just love this building and wanted to share.

Italian sentences for today…”Oggi ho fatto commissioni. Sono andato a fare la spesa. Mi sono tagliato i capelli” in English “I ran errands today. I went grocery shopping. I got my hair cut”. Pronounced oh-gee oh fah-toe com-miss-see-oh-nee. So-no ahn-dah-toe ah fah-ray lah spey-sah. Me so-no tah-glee-ah-toe eee cap-ell-lee.
Stay safe everyone. Andrà tutto bene 🌈