We’ve had some quite intense storms and rainfall the past few weeks, so we were a little unsure if our return to Ischia for a walk and wine tour would happen one weekend. Well, we went for it, and besides a brutal ferry ride across the rolling water, our adventure to the island turned out to be quite beautiful! We were greeted with rainbows throughout the day; enjoyed a peaceful walk along the lungomare; strolled through shops, churches, and neighborhoods; climbed higher heights for views; and tasted aged and bottled wine in amphora bottles!! We even caught a sneak peek at a new project the winery is working on- aging wine underwater for 24 months!! What a wonderful group to spend the day with!
Lacco Ameno — Santa Restituta — Villa Arbusto — Tommasone Winery
— The Story of Santa Restituta–
Santa Restituta, African virgin and martyr, according to some sources, came originally from Carthage, according to other from Tenizia, that the current Bizerte in Tunisia: this is on the coast overlooking the strait of Sicily, and was already in the third century illustrious bishop’s seat at Carthage. Restituta, attended the school of St. Cyprian, bishop of Carthage, and took part in the group of Abitinesi martyrs, described in the “Passio SS. Dativi, Saturnini et aliorum”, written by Pio Franchi Dei Cavalieri. During the tenth anti-Christian persecution, ordered by the Emperor Diocletian in 304, a large number of Christians, continued to gather in the city of Abitina in the house of Ottavio Felice, to celebrate the Eucharistic rite, called “dominicum”, under the guidance of Priest Saturnino. Fifty of them were surprised by the Roman soldiers: were arrested, interrogated and then dragged in chains to Carthage. On February 12, in 304 they underwent the ritual questioning in the presence of the proconsul Anulinus and reconfirmed their faith despite the torture, were sentenced to death: among them was Restituta.
Insufficient historical data on the place and time on her martyrdom. Tardive medieval “Passiones” completed the limited historical data cited: one that concerns us more closely and that was handed down to the present day, is that of hagiographer Pietro Suddiacono, dating back to the tenth century, which describes the trial, conviction and the martyrdom of the saint who, exhausted by torture, was placed on a boat load of oakum soaked of resin and pitch; when this was taken off by the executioners and set on fire, the Saint remained unharmed, while the fire wiped out the other boat with its occupants. Restituta thanked God and prayed that an angel accompany her during the crossing: answered, gratefully asked to enter the eternal peace and peacefully breathed her last expire. A thousand year old tradition still tells a boat led by the Angel and dragged by the wind of Africa arrived to the island of Aenaria, now Ischia, located in front of the Gulf of Naples, touching land in the locality called “ad Ripas”, today San Montano. In that place lived a Christian matron named Lucina: warned in a dream by the angel, went to the beach, where she found the boat aground and in it the body intact and shining of Restituta. Gathered the population, was given the Martyr a solemn burial at the place called Eraclius, at the foot of Monte Vico in Lacco Ameno, which contains the ruins of an early Christian basilica, and where there is now a shrine dedicated to the Saint. The legendary journey has inspired the French poet A. de Lamartine, who wrote in 1842 “Le lis du golfe de Santa Restituta dans l’ìle d’Ischia”…
The vine, wine and man, a bond that has millennial origins on the island of Ischia, as evidenced by the discovery of the famous Nestor Cup in the necropolis of San Montano, in Lacco Ameno. An 8th century artifact of exceptional importance, on which is engraved a real hymn to the pleasures of wine and love: tangible sign of viticulture introduced by the Euboeans, the first Greek settlers arrived on the island of Ischia and baptized by them with the name of Pithecusa.
It moves from the small town of Lacco Ameno the past and the present of Tommasone Winery, since the end of 1700S: the remains of the ancient millstone, the old wine press and the barrique cellar dug in the green tuff, are the traces that accompany the family wine tradition for over 300 years, together with the family know-how passed on from father to son for five generations. Son of farmers, the great-grandfather Pietro started the winemaking tradition in 1870 that distinguishes the Monti family until now. After Pietro, follows his son Tommaso called “Tommasone” (hence the name of the winery), to get to our days with Antonio and his great passion for the restaurant business which led him to move to Cologne to start a successful restaurant. In Germany he met and married Birgit and they had their daughters, Lucia and Barbara, but Antonio never forgot the strong call for his land and the teachings of his father Tommaso. In 1999, Antonio Monti undertakes the renovation of the old cellars and the replanting of the old family vineyards. From the past to the present and to the future of the family: after studying viticulture and enology in Germany, and after several internships and working experiences in Italy and abroad, his daughter Lucia becomes head of the company, in 2009, to continue the project started by her father. In addition to wine making, with her sister Barbara, Lucia also launched the idea of combining wine with a cosmetic production based on certified organic grapes creating the brand Tommasone Cosmetics. Based on a serious scientific research and an eco-sustainable packaging, Tommasone Cosmetics enhance the many beneficial properties of grapes, a precious concentration of antioxidants, astringents and revitalizers. Lucia is the only woman winemaker on Ischia!
Tommasone vineyards cover an area of 16.50 hectares (16.5 acres), spread in 14 small properties ranging from the city of Lacco Ameno in the northwest, to Forio in the western part of the Island up to Sant’Angelo. The last one is the southernmost point of Ischia, and it is home of Tenuta Monte Zunta, one of our most valuable vineyards located at 450 meters asl. Tommasone wines are produced with native grapes of the island: Biancolella and Forastera, for white wines, and Per’e Palummo or Piedirosso, Guarnaccia and Aglianico for red wines.
Our roots will forever be from here, America, born and raised. Yet, life requires us to move more frequently than we care to count. Whether living stateside or abroad, you can always find us traveling somewhere. We scout out places that you only think you can dream of one day seeing and we seek out those that aren’t found in guidebooks. We then bring them to life here in our travel memos, so hopefully, one day you too can visit them or at least be able to live vicariously through us. This blog isn’t just about crossing off places from a bucket list. It’s about absorbing and learning how other cultures grow and fit into the same world that we do. Life is short and the world is big. Enjoy and get out there!