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The Birthplace of the Renaissance Offers a Wine at No Cost

Photo by Vladikh

A Free Drinking Fountain Unlike Others

There is something about a water fountain that usually takes people back to their childhoods; few pit stops are as refreshing as a trip to the water fountain when one is in school. However, there is a drinking fountain in Italy that is decidedly not for children. Just like your grammar school water fountain, though, you can drink from this Italian fountain at no charge — you’ll just want to make sure that you’re not operating any heavy machinery afterward. That’s because this drinking fountain — located in the Abruzzo region of the boot-shaped European country — is dispensing wine. For well over two millennia now, the people of Ortona have been making a beautiful Montepulciano wine.

Magnificent Montepulciano Grapes Provide the Flavor

Of course, this complimentary wine fountain did not just pop out of the ether; Dora Sarchese Vini was involved with its inception. It should be noted that the town of Ortona was well-known before becoming the site of free-flowing Montepulciano. It is rumored that one of Jesus’s beloved apostles, St. Thomas, has his remains held in the local basilica. Legend insists that it was a sailor who brought the remains to Ortona back in the 1200s. These days, the Cammino di San Tommaso has become popular for Roman Catholics who want to retrace the routes of their church’s early founders. The wine tap, which has been on display for years now, is mostly meant to provide refreshment to weary travelers who are taking the almost 200-mile journey in the name of religion. However, there is certainly no one checking to ensure that each wine fan is on the St. Thomas trip. The beautiful fountain, which features stunning stone work, is available to all 24 hours a day.

A History of Wine Fountains

Some might be shocked to learn that this is not the first wine fountain in Europe. In fact, as early as the 16th century, the English court was rumored to have had its water conduits temporarily topped off with wine. In Italy, some lucky Venetian shipyard workers of the 17th century also were given a free wine fountain to parch their thirst during the day. These days, Catholic pilgrims who love the idea of a free wine fountain have options. In Spain, there is a free wine fountain at Camino de Santiago, providing respite and refreshment for those who are honoring St.James on their journey.

A Good Time for a European Vacation?

There is no doubt that some of these European tourist attractions — wine fountains included — may have become a bit too crowded over the summer of 2022. Record numbers of travelers took to the skies during this time, eager to make new vacation memories after years of lockdown due to the pandemic. With so many travel restrictions loosening up at the same time, airlines and European hotels were inundated with reservations. The crowded conditions were showcased through social media, with many users taking to TikTok and other platforms to show just how saturated destinations like Santorini had become over the summer. Savvy travelers have been holding off until autumn — and even winter — to visit their favorite destinations when they are less crowded. With smaller crowds, costs will also be more palatable for budget-conscious vacationers.

A Hearty Wine for Uncertain Times

For the winery that provides the free fountain in Ortona, one could also see how the fountain serves as a promotional tool. After all, people tend to fall in love with Montepulciano wines. With their rich color and delicious taste, these wines often keep winning over fans — even after tourists are long finished with their vacations in Italy. Dispensing free wine at the fountain is a good way to introduce travelers to the delightful flavors of the region and make them customers for life.

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