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Imaginary Culinary Journey through Romagna - Part Two

Guest Blogspot by Patrizia Poggi - Wines of the Romagna

Introduction After savouring Part One of this journey - Zuppa Inglese - English Trifle, we now welcome you to experience Part Two - Wines of the Romagna - and in doing so continuing our mutual passions for art, culture and tourism intertwined with our love of history, literature, music, food and drink.

Patrizia currently manages a historical residence immersed in the Romagna countryside, the Relais Villa Roncuzzi,, once owned by the Poor Clares of Ravenna. A welcoming environment, an intimate atmosphere, rich in art and culture for a pleasant stay in the cradle of Byzantine Art of Ravenna, UNESCO heritage and from the Po Delta Park. ​This oasis of peace is full of charm and is surrounded by some of the most beautiful art towns of the Emilia-Romagna region: Ravenna, ancient capital of the Byzantine Empire, Faenza, famous worldwide for its ceramics, Bologna, home to the oldest university in Europe, and Ferrara, cradle of the noble House of Este. Thanks to its favourable position, from here it is easy and quick to get to the vibrant Adriatic Coast of Romagna, which is, so to speak, "behind the corner".

Suzanna and Patrizia at Villa Roncuzzi. Saluti!

Patrizia relates her story here... The pleasures of the table for Romagna come first. You wish for an ancient hunger experience, you wish for the joy of life to have always accompanied them and that finds one of the greatest satisfaction on the table; you wish them because they consider eating in its primordial essence - that is the basis of life and every human action, so much so as to put eating on top of all thoughts. ​The poet Tonino Guerra (1920-2012), returning from his captivity in Germany at the end of the Second War, met his father at the front door and did not ask him how he was and what had happened to him, but "Did you eat?".

Tonino Guerra, favorite screenwriter of Federico Fellini, Michelangelo Antonioni and of the main directors of the twentieth century, in front of the painting “The angel with the mustache” by the artist Luigi Poiaghi in the Museum with only one painting, "the most unguarded and poetic museum in the world", born from a poem that welcomes the visitor [foto © VITTORIO GIANNELLA]

The wine has accompanied the life of the people of Romagna for several millennia, as evidenced by the writings of Latin authors, which underline the great productivity of Romagna. This element has slowed down the drive towards quality. Between 1700 and mid-1900 the interest of the people of Romagna was in fact mainly aimed at producing as much wine as possible.

Drinking in Romagna also identifies wine tout court. And wine was of such importance in peasant culture and civilization that we find it in many ways of saying and traditions. In the last forty years there has been a profound renewal also favored by a generational change of producers and with the introduction of new and modern techniques of vine cultivation and wine-making that have led to the production of high quality wines.

The most appreciated wines are however those related to the territory and its people, namely the wines with the denomination of controlled origin (DOC) label that reflect the environment, climate and history.

The most representative wines are:

Albana denomination of controlled and guaranteed origin (DOCG); Sangiovese DOC; Trebbiano DOC a white with a pleasant freshness and fragrance; and Pagadebit DOC, another white wine with a floral and fruity aroma of great versatility.

Wines offer to our guests:

Sangiovese di Romagna superiore Riserva “Le Iadi” | Francesconi Paolo Viticoltore Faenza (on the left) ■

​Romagna Albana DOCG Progetto 1 Leone Conti Viticoltore Faenza (on the right)

The Albana is the wine of celebration and joyful moments and of rites. It is the wine that is still offered to the guest and of which, until a few decades ago, when a girl was born, six bottles were prepared for opening on her wedding day. They are all "gentle" customs born perhaps from that golden blonde colour that refers to lightness.

It is a wine with a two-thousand-year history, produced only in Romagna in the dry, sweet, passito and passito reserve types.

Truth or legend, it was told that the Ravenna princess Galla Placidia (392 AD- 450 AD), daughter of the Emperor Theodosius I, stayed with her retinue on the Bertinoro hill. The inhabitants offered her a blond terracotta wine, the Albana. Galla Placidia was delighted and raised the bowl exclaiming: "Not so humbly you should drink, but drink it in gold, to pay homage to your sweetness", hence the toponym Bertinoro, today the symbolic city of hospitality in Romagna. On that occasion, the princess wore a priestly garment called alba, a name that recalls the rising of the sun whose rays helped to ripen the bunches of a luxuriant vine fruit of mother earth. The vine was thus baptized Albana in one day with a special sunrise with a female name.

Left: A detail of the Cross of Galla Placidia preserved in the Museum of Santa Giulia in Brescia. Centre: Portrait of Galla Placidia on a fifth century gold coin. Right: Cross of Galla Placidia (called of Desiderio) - detail. Museo Santa Giulia Brescia. Credits: Photo Scala.

The Mausoleum of Galla Placidia, where cobalt blue mosaics embrace a dome of golden stars. When you enter in the Mausoleum is tantamount to entering the gate of the afterlife, it’s almost a prelude to paradise. Mausoleum was built in the first half of the 5th century as an oratory at the southern end of an entrance portico. Mausoleum should have contained the remains of Galla Placidia, the daughter of Teodosius the Great, the sister of Honorius and the mother of Valentinian III. Because her son was just six years old, she became regent of the Western Roman Empire. Placidia died in Rome in 450 and was buried in the family vault. The Mausoleum is a UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The dome is decorated with a mosaic (the oldest in the city) which depicts a night sky in which 900 stars shine. It is said that Cole Porter, in Ravenna on his honeymoon, wrote “Night and Day” because he was inspired by the mosaic of the dome.

Albana wine in Bertinoro, a medieval village located on a hill from which you can enjoy a magnificent panorama of the sea and the Romagna plain. For this reason it is known as "The Balcony of Romagna" as well as being the "City of Wine" and the "City of Hospitality". It dates to a time before the 10th century and was the residence of Emperor Federico Barbarossa in 1177, and his court and militia, and then the bishop’s seat since 1584. Today, the defensive structure still preserves its medieval appearance. Photo credit: Elio Zammarchi

Both Albana mild and sweet are drinkable wines, often and willingly sparkling, very suitable for dry pastries, such as the Romagna donut and the delicious English soup, which have already been the protagonist of ACT Part One blog dated 15.5.20.

But the Romagna wine par excellence is Sangiovese Doc, which reflects the strength and warmth of the people of Romagna and also, in certain notes of softness and in the subtle perfume of violets, ruby color, the tenderness of his feelings.

The origin is uncertain, controversial and disputed between Romagna and Tuscany - the Romagnoli make a hypothesis as suggestive as it is cloaked in legend, even if it was proposed by an Austrian glottologist, Friedrich Schürr (1888 - 1980), who studied for a long time the Romagna dialect. According to Schürr, the denomination of the Sangiovese grape derives from Monte Giove or Collis Jovis, a hill located near Santarcangelo, in the province of Rimini, on which there was an ancient convent of monks who also cultivated the vine.

During a banquet, the most distinguished guest, to whom the monks had served their best red wine, asked what that delicious nectar was called. Nobody knew, but a friar had a flicker of mind and instantly coined the name of Sanguis Jovis who, by contraction, later became Sangiovese. And then to solemnize this birth, in 1976, the Romagna Tribunate, the Romagna Wine Protection Authority, the Passatore Company and the Italian Sommelier Association placed a plaque on Monte Giove to remember the birthright. And through the occupation of sub-Apennine Romagna by the Medici, the Sangiovese grape would also have spread to Tuscany.

The alleys of Santarcangelo di Romagna |

Photo ©

It rises on a little hill behind Rimini that has the high-flown name of Monte Giove (Mount Jupiter). A few people suggest that this name comes from the famous Sangiovese wine. Climbs and descents, stairs and inset houses: Santarcangelo is indisputably one of the most suggestive hamlets in Romagna. it’s a highly marked lls, its castles, its palaces, that managed to reserve a rural atmosphere, remaining a friendly city where people can meet, especially in the area around the medieval hamlet.

On the contrary, most ampelographers are quite in agreement in stating that Sangiovese originated in Tuscany and between the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries making its appearance in Romagna following the expansion of Florence on this side of the Apennines. A conquest that for a few centuries influenced all human activities including agriculture in the area known as Romagna Toscana. It is a triangular-shaped territory with the base formed by the Apennine ridge and the sides that start from Firenzuola and Verghereto to meet a few kilometers from Forlì, in Terra del Sole, built upon request by the Grand Duke of Tuscany Cosimo I De' Medici. It is one of the very few towns that has a precise foundation date: December 8, 1564, the ideal city created "to measure of man "with a skilful relationship between spaces and volumes based on Leonardo's principles that established" both the width of the streets equal to the universal height of the houses ".

Terra del Sole conceived as a “town-fortress” and not only as a fortress, this beautiful Renaissance citadel amazes visitors at any time of the year and represents the fusion of the Florentine Renaissance culture with that of Romagna, between the kindness and art of Florence and the harshness of the places of the Romagna Apennines and the roughness of the character of its inhabitants.

Whatever the origin of Sangiovese, it is in Romagna that has found an ideal development terrain and then spread to the whole area of the Romagna hill, becoming increasingly linked to the territory.

All the wines of the Emilia-Romagna Region are displayed and on sale in the Emilia-Romagna Regional Enoteca in the medieval fortress of Dozza, a hilltop village on the border between Emilia and Romagna, known for the paintings on the external walls of the houses - created by internationally renowned artists over the course of a 40-year Biennial of the Painted Wall. ​

Dozza: the medieval village - one of the most beautiful in Italy - is a maze of colorful streets, which leads to the Rocca Sforzesca, the heart of the village and home to the Study and Documentation Center of the Painted Wall.

​The Enoteca Regionale (below) contains a 1000 square meter cellar where the 870 labels are exhibited and that the Institution represents all over the world The wines, sparkling wines and raisin wines are also accompanied by balsamic vinegar, spirits and extra virgin olive oil rigorously produced in Emilia-Romagna.

Enoteca Regionale Emilia-Romagna holds over 870 selected labels, proposed in tastings combined with food.

Credits: Photo Enoteca Regionale Emilia-Romagna ​

In 2017, the first Embassy of the Cities of Wine of Europe was born in Rimini, a place that promotes the civilization of wine and the productive wealth of the territory not far from the University Citadel of Rimini so as to maintain constant contact with the students of ​the Economics of Tourism. A real "District" for the "storytelling" of Romagna wine.

Enotourismclub manages the structure, a modern Hospitality Mutual Aid Company serving the District, inside the courtyard of a 17th-century building in the historic center. Its premises will be furnished with antiques and furniture from various eras and origins to narrate anecdotes about the history of wine, food and the territory. I am currently the Secretary General of Enotourismclub and the Embassy.

On 20th June 2020, we officially re-opened Relais Villa La Roncuzzi to guests... These past few months have changed our daily lives and we sincerely hope that you and your loved ones are well. The arrival of the sunny days makes us finally want to leave to take the air at sea, in the mountains or in the countryside. The Hotel Relais Villa Roncuzzi is ready to welcome you! Some of our guest comments are written below...

We look forward to welcoming you to ingest, savour and experience our culinary and wine delicacies while at the same time, learning and appreciating the beautiful art, history and culture of the Romagna region. ​We hope you have enjoyed reading this and savoured our shared experience. Because you will be invited to travel again with Patrizia on Part Three of her “Imaginary Culinary Journey through Romagna”. If you have any comments to relay about this blog and about the wines of Romagna, we would love to hear from you, either in the Comments box (at the end of the photo galleries) or/and via email. Many thanks - molto grazie. Patrizia Poggi & Marysia Zipser

Romagna landscape with vineyards. Giovanni Bassi, details of “vine with bunches of grapes” Giovanni Bassi, “Vine with bunches of grapes”, 2009,cm 2000 x 3500, copper, exhibited in "Artigianato e Palazzo", 2017 edition, Florence, in the seventeenth-century Corsini Garden created by Gherardo Silvani.


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