What’s that fresco painted on the walls of the old cloister in Sperlonga?
Read this if you want to be prepared while planning your wine tour in Sperlonga
When you walk through the alleys of the old Sperlonga village you’ll be surprised by a very characteristic “piazzetta” with a tiny old well in the middle.
That’s part of the very first building in the old town. It was the monastery built from the Benedictine monks in the 1100 A.D.
On one side a big fresco covering the white walls will catch your attention. It’s more like an old comic, with different scenes telling the story of the invasion of the pirates in 1534 in drawings and verses. The fresco is not very old, it might have been painted in the 1960s by an unknown artist.
But it tells a true story.
At the dawn of a warm and sunny august day, in 1534, a pirate’s fleet driven by the terrible Khayr ad-Din, known in Italy as “Il Barbarossa” (the Readbeard) landed in Sperlonga. He had been charged by the Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent to take him the best italian treasures and kidnap the most beautiful italian girl: the princess Giulia Gonzaga. She was born in Modena but was living in Fondi after he had married the count Vespasiano Colonna. Il Barbarossa used to destroy everything he found on his way. So when he ordered some “sperlongano” to show him the way to the Princess’ castle in Fondi and told him he would have spared his family and house, the man did not even think about that and took him to Fondi. Fortunately, when the pirates reached Fondi the princess Giulia wasn’t there anymore. She had been warned by her faithful servants and could run away through a hidden tunnel from her castle. She was beautiful and clever!
Have a look at that piazzetta and take a picture by the well!
What about Cecubo, the wine of the old Romans? And how the Monti Cecubi winery was born?
The Cecubo is one of the wines that you’ll taste during your ancient Roman wine tour experience. So let’s learn something about it!
The historian Strabone said it was “excellent and substantial”. The Greek physician Galeno decribed it as “pleasant, of good tone, of strong food substance, excellent for the intelligence and for the stomach.”
The Cecubo was considered one of the most delicious wines in the Roman age. It was in fact reserved for the last toast in the banquets. The Cecubo represents the identity of a country, around Sperlonga. The Emperor Tiberius himself (and his mother Livia) owned vineyards near their holiday’s villa. And they used to grow up the grapes of that so well-known Roman wine.
We believe that “Cecubo” derives from caecus (blind), joined to bibere (to drink) and that these words were fused together to name “the wine of the blind one”, Appio Claudio Cieco (i.e Blind), who was the builder of the Via Appia, through the hills of the Monti Cecubi.
Right on those hills, facing the sea near Sperlonga, the Monti Cecubi winery was born, managed by the Schettino’s. They bought an ancient farm at the end of the ’90s and were determined to take the oenology back in those lands . The job started from a small vineyard next to the farm. The oenologist could identify some local varieties like the Abbuoto, and planted some more common vinegrapes like the Vermentino, the Fiano, the Falanghina, the Cabernet Sauvignon and the Aglianico.
Monti Cecubi vineyards covers now around 100 hectares among Itri, Fondi and Sperlonga. The soil composition, the exposure, the influence of the sea, the strong temperature variation between day and night, allows Monti Cecubi to produce intense, fresh and longlasting wines, as pure expression of this country. The recipe mixes the ancient tradition with modern technology, a limited production and organic farming.
So let’s make the experience: come discover Cecubo, the Roman wine!