An orange flag village, a territory of great products. Weekend idea proposed by the Touring Club! If current events often tell us of young people who can’t wait to escape abroad in search of a better future, spending a weekend in the Colli di Luni, in the province of La Spezia, is a guarantee of a sip of native optimism and of good wine. Thanks to a new generation of winemakers in love with the land of their fathers and determined to make it even more beautiful and prosperous. Wandering through the cellars of Castelnuovo Magra, among vineyards that breathe the sea breeze of the Gulf of Lerici and small enchanting villages, among one glass and another, we chat with the new generation of the Vermentino dynasties, guys who know how to “understand the character of the territory and want to cultivate native vines – as explained by Paolo Bosoni, founder of Cantine di Lunae – picking up the key from tradition reading for their future”. As if to say that to make a good wine, you also need culture, tradition and landscape conservation. THE WINE OF LUNAE: Pliny the Elder already knew that the wine in these parts was good, when he wrote “The wine from Lunae wins the prize for the best in Etruria”. In those days, vessels loaded with wine and immaculate marble from the nearby quarries of Carrara sailed from the port of Lunae. Over time the Roman port silted up and people moved to the hills in search of healthier air, away from what was destined to remain a marshy and unhealthy area until the reclamations in the 1700s. Today in Ortonovo you can visit the excavations in the archaeological area of the city that the ancient Romans called Lunae, in honor of the goddess Luna. An elegant and rich city, with many buildings covered in marble, a theater and an amphitheater, as well as numerous devotional buildings. Leaving the plain behind, however, vines and above all Vermentino continued to be cultivated here with excellent success, so much so that the Genoese Christopher Columbus apparently wanted numerous barrels of Vermentino di Luni on board his caravels leaving for the New World. Thanks to the happy passing of the baton between generations of winemakers, today the bottles of “Colli di Luni” Doc also leave for China and Northern Europe, but the best place to taste them is always here, in this area at the crossroads between Liguria, Tuscany and Emilia Romagna. CASTELNUOVO MAGRA, BORGO DOC. The medieval tower of what was once the Castello dei Vescovi dominates Castelnuovo Magra, a beautiful town about 200 meters above sea level. It is like a lighthouse on the green sea of Vermentino vineyards, of which Castelnuovo is the epicenter of production. “It is no surprise that the regional wine shop is located right here” – explains the president Federico Ricci – “in the Ligurian province with the greatest wine production”. As can be learned by visiting the interesting multimedia exhibition set up in the recently restored tower, Vermentino, however, can be considered a symbolic wine not only of the Liguria region, but of the whole Mediterranean, as its production is traditionally distributed between Sardinia, Corsica and Tuscany and Liguria. “Thanks to European funding in 2009, we were able to give a new impetus to wine tourism – says Manuele Micocci, a young and enterprising city councilor with responsibility for tourism – “and we thought of proposing ourselves as the leader of the Vermentino production areas in the Mediterranean. To celebrate the new wine, we have also created a great moment of celebration now in its seventh edition, which this year will be held on May 28 and 29, involving the entire Colli di Luni area, with the extraordinary opening of cellars and historic houses”. THE VERMENTINO WELCOME PARTY. And there’s no shortage of good reasons to celebrate, because it seems that the last year was an excellent year. Thanks to the particularly warm temperatures, the 2015 production has an above average quality. There will therefore be two days dedicated to tasting the new wine – fresh, savory and fragrant – paired with local dishes proposed by the most talented chefs in the area. For the occasion, the families of Castelnuovo Magra open their parlors to the public, welcoming visitors in the eighteenth-century buildings of the historic centre. Among these is the suggestive Dimora Garibaldi, the ancient residence of the Pucci family in the heart of via Dante, where it is also possible to stop for the night, among fireplaces, ancient grand pianos and memorabilia dedicated to classical music. Good food and rivers of Vermentino also in the square with the refreshment point set up by the Proloco in collaboration with local restaurants. And to get rid of the food and wine excesses there are walks through the vineyards organized by the CAI or the climb to the Torre dei Vescovi in Luni. From its top you can enjoy a magnificent panorama of the gulf, while spread over 6 of its 7 floors you can enjoy the Football and Icons exhibition, which Steve McCurry dedicated to street football, offered as a world preview until 10 September. Even the great American photographer has fallen under the spell of Terre della Luna and at the end of June it will be possible to meet him in person in Piazza Quericiola. DISCOVERING THE TERRITORY . To welcome visitors who have just arrived in Castelnuovo Magra, the remains of the ancient city walls and what was once the Palazzo dei Vescovi-Conti di Luni, where on 6 October 1306 peace was signed between Bishop Antonio da Camilla and the Marquises Malaspina in the presence of the latter’s attorney Dante Alighieri. One of the two remaining towers, recently restored, houses the new headquarters of the Vermentino Multimedia Museum as well as interesting temporary exhibitions. In reality, the Palace was never destroyed, but simply disassembled piece by piece by the inhabitants of the hills in search of building materials and in the 19th century for the construction of the choir of the Church of Santa Maria Maddalena. The original nucleus of the parish actually dates back to the 17th century and houses a canvas of the Crucifixion by Peter Brueghel the Younger (1564 – 1637) as well as many sculptures in Carrara marble. Right next to the parish church is the entrance to the Oratorio dei Rossi, while in the heart of Borghetto (the nucleus of the historic centre) is the Oratorio dei Bianchi. Going to the discovery of the Castelnovese area, one comes across interesting marble bas-relief icons on the facades of some private homes. They are the Majesties, evidence of the Marian cult and of the link with the nearby Carrara marble quarries. In the immediate vicinity, in the hamlet of Ortonovo, do not miss a visit to the charming village of Nicola and the Mariano del Mirteto Sanctuary, built entirely of white marble in the sixteenth century.