Not far from the medieval ateliers of Bevagna, one discovers a beautiful countryside rich in vineyards and olive groves. Taste and Slow Italy’s Samuele G. Arcangeli, an Umbrian native, is also an agronomist who works with local farmers in this largely agricultural area.
Warm and personable, he likely knows every inch of farmland in Umbria, the 0 km products each farm cultivates, and many hidden spots that have not yet registered in a big way on the global tourist map like its more touristed Tuscany neighbor.
Picture this Post (PTP) joined Samuele Arcangeli (SA) to drive through this lush farmland – landing at a unique vineyard call Carapace. Here, he explains what Carapace is and why he feels it should be of interest.
(PTP ) What is Carapace and how is it unique?
(SA )This area of the southern Umbria Valley is just now becoming very popular among wine experts-- especially the towns of Montefalco and Bevagna, where Carapace is located.
What makes it unique is that it is not an architectural structure, but a sculpture. The vineyard work is done, the cellars where the wine is aged and bottled is also in this structure and wine tastings are held here. It is unique in the world—and admittedly somewhat difficult to communicate what it is on paper. You truly have to see it and experience it in order to understand what it is.
Please tell our readers about the history of this vineyard? How does this fit into the wine traditions of Umbria?
Carapace is the name of the sculpture, but the winery is known as Tenuta Castelbono, owned by the Lunelli family, who are known for their famous Ferrari brand of white sparkling wine that comes from another area of Italy.
The ancient grape variety called Sagrantino is what has attracted people to this area. It is an ancient grape found only here that perhaps dates back thousands of years. In the past it was used for sacred ceremonies’ sweet wine. Now, it is more widely appreciated by wine enthusiasts as a rich red wine with a unique taste. In a recent visit we learned from Carapace’s wine technician that they are now also experimenting with aging the wine in terracotta jars as a restoration of ancient methods, which is a very interesting idea.
Are most of the people who visit Carapace interested in its architecture or do they visit for its famous wines?
Perhaps both—one gets to appreciate drinking a good Sagrantino wine inside a contemporary art masterpiece, all the time surrounded by a unique smell of wine and wood.
As newcomers to the area, we found the contributed art works on the road to Carapace of even more interest than the winery’s unusual architecture. Can you tell our readers about how this came to be and how many new or changing pieces there are?
The Sculpture Park of Castelbuono hosts 25 contemporary sculptures. It was meant to expose locals to this form of art--allowing the people to understand sculpture in all its aspects. This is public art—geared to bring members of the local community to help in its development.
The local agrarian culture and language has inspired the park - the traditions, stories, sounds, and voices of the area. A synthesis is made of what is called the ruby and emerald harvests-- Sagrantino wine and olives respectively.
My favorite sculpture is called “Crea il tuo Mondo”, which can be translated as “Create your own world”. It is a comfortable marble throne that is placed in front of a panoramic view of the Umbria valley. You can sit on it and be enchanted.
Any other comments to help our readers determine if fitting in a visit to Carapace would be of interest to them in a Taste and Slow itinerary for an Umbria tour?
Umbria has many hidden places and unique ones like Carapace. The first thing to know is that it a region well worth exploring. Actually, we like to use the word adventure instead of itinerary. Itineraries might be a list of places to visit, but our philosophy is not what to see in Umbria, but how to see it and with whom. When you join us you will spend time with a native able to transmit the depths of the local soul and feelings about where you are visiting.
For more information about joining Samuele Arcangeli or one of his Taste and Slow Italy colleagues on a Carapace tour, visit the Taste and Slow Italy website.
Editor’s Note: Taste and Slow Italy is part of the Divertimento Group