The Dora Sarchese winery in the village of Caldari di Ortona in central Italy’s Abruzzo region inaugurated Italy’s first ever 24-hour free wine fountain on Sunday.
Caldari di Ortona sits on the 316-km Cammino di San Tommaso pilgrimage path that runs between Rome and the town of Ortona on Italy’s Adriatic coast. The fountain is intended to be used by pilgrims passing by the winery on their long journey. Any pilgrims reaching this point will certainly be in need of refreshment, as they will already have travelled hundreds of kilometres and will be just a few kilometres from their goal – the Cathedral of St Thomas in Ortona, which houses the bones of St Thomas, one of Jesus’ disciples.
The fountain dispenses locally produced red wine at the touch of a button, much like a standard drinking water fountain. The wine comes from a large barrel that is topped up by the winery staff. The winery claims that the fountain is not a ‘publicity stunt’, and that the fountain is not a place for ‘drunkards’ or ‘louts’, but instead designed to welcome religious pilgrims.
It is not Italy’s first wine fountain, but it claims to be the first to dispense wine for free, 24-hours-a-day, throughout the year. Other fountains in Italy have spouted wine during festivals and special events, such as Marino’s annual Grape Festival when wine flows out of the fountain in the town square.