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In the words of Mario Soldati, a passionate wine and food lover, writer, scenographer, director, and symbolic figure of 20th century Italy, we find the most candid description of Gattinara. Soldati arrived in Gattinara in the 1950s, a traveler in search of the heart and souls of places he visited. In his short essay “A Sip of Gattinara” ("Un sorso di Gattinara"), he celebrates the region's red wine that has always been the pride of this town.

The ties to the earth are still strong for the eight thousand inhabitants of this small community of Vercelli. The same clay-like earth that cultivates vines (100 hectares, or 247 acres of surface area for 500 thousand bottles a year) on the hills that slope downwards to meet the plains, is the foundation of rice paddies. The viticultural tradition is so rooted in Gattinara's inhabitants that it’s expressed in the town's coat of arms with a vine heavy with bunches of grapes.

The history of Gattinara is interwoven with that of the Arborio family, one of whom was the prominent Cardinal Mercurino, Prime Minister and Counselor to Emperor Carlo V. Mercurino often watered his diplomatic lunches with copious amounts of the region's wine that was produced from Nebbiolo grapes.

The undisputed protagonist today is the same vine that Mercurino so loved, whose grapes make Gattinara DOCG. Taste it in the area’s wineries: we suggest Anzivino, situated in a building that once housed a distillery. Sabrina will recount the history of her family and the passion for viticulture that brought them from Milan to Gattinara in 1998, dedicating themselves to producing wine. She'll accompany you to an inviting area with rounded arches in red brick to have you taste her risotto alla toma with Gattinara wine reduction. Accompany it with cheeses from Valsesia paired with a delicious mostarda of grapes (a chutney made from grape must cooked at a low temperature, different from that found commonly throughout the Langhe). Among the vast selection of the Anzivino cellars is Bramaterra, another locally produced wine (60% Nebbiolo with the remaining 40% from native varieties Croatina, Vespolina and Bonarda).

In a car or on a bike, turn down the "Strada delle Vigne," or the Road of Vines, a dirt road that runs through a dense forest before coming upon rows of grapevines that lead to the 11th century Tower of the Castles at a high point with a fantastic view. At the beginning of the trail is the winery Travaglini, which is worth a visit: with 60 hectares (148 acres) of cultivated land, it is one of Gattinara's largest estates.

Don't leave the countryside, however, before walking to the low porticoes of the central street of the town, peeking into the small, cobblestoned courtyards from between the ancient gates along the roads. Enter the walls of this hamlet to pass into a lazy, tranquil silence that the farmers of the past once experienced.

In the historical center is the beautiful, medieval Church of St. Pietro in red brick Gothic-Lombard style. Note the sculpted gates and cast-iron, stone-worked dome, a masterpiece of a 19th century architect. Leaving the town, the surrounding countryside presents many different views, from the Vercelli territory’s numerous rice paddies to the paths along the banks of the Sesia River, and finally to the cultural destinations approaching Novara.

    Last modified onMonday, 25 February 2013 12:15
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