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Vernaccia di Corniglia: Boccaccio's Elixir

Monday 19 february 2024

Explore the fascinating history and unique taste of Vernaccia di Corniglia in the Cinque Terre. A journey into the past and present of the wine that inspired Boccaccio

Vernaccia di Corniglia: Boccaccio's Elixir

Set like a precious gem between the rocks and the azure sea of the Cinque Terre, Corniglia glows with a special light when the sun caresses its vineyards. Here, among lush vines and gravity-defying terraces, Vernaccia wine is grown, a nectar that has spanned the centuries enchanting illustrious palates and inspiring poets and writers. One of the most emblematic moments in which this wine has been celebrated is found in the pages of Giovanni Boccaccio's "Decameron", a work that helped make this Ligurian essence immortal.

He recounts the novella of that wise abbot of Cluny who was a prisoner of Ghino di Tacco, the kind-hearted bandit, who offered his sick guest two slices of well roasted bread with a glass of vernaccia di Corniglia. This wine, emblem of hospitality and balm for the aching soul, almost worked the miracle of restoring vigor and health to the prelate.

Vino a Corniglia
Ph. cre8or/flickr

But what mystery lies behind Corniglia's Vernaccia wine? Why have the verses of poets so extolled its virtues?

The spirit of vernaccia has its roots in the distant past, when, as some sources narrate, freed slaves of the gens Cornelia cultivated these ethereal slopes, devoting themselves to winemaking. The sealed amphorae marked "Cornelia" found in the excavations of Pompeii testify to the esteem in which this wine was held in ancient Rome.

The harmony of the Corniglia landscape, where the work of man has shaped without raping the wild beauty of nature, has been able to create a wine of rare balance. The vines, caressed by the sea breeze and fortified by the Ligurian sun, impart flavors and aromas to the Vernaccia that recall the sea and the Mediterranean scrub, giving it an unmistakable personality.

History tells us of a wine that has not been trapped in the past, but has evolved. First the companion of the table of the powerful and poets, today Corniglia vernaccia continues to be the protagonist of tables, accompanying delicate or intensely flavored dishes, becoming a symbol of conviviality and timeless elegance.

Tra i vicoli di Corniglia

Returning to our Boccaccio, the decanted glass of vernaccia still resonates with that humanity that the father of the Italian novelist knew how to portray so well. The story of the abbot of Cluny and his jailer invites us to discover in wine not only a pleasure of the senses, but an opportunity to meet, care for and rediscover those authentic pleasures to which, too often, we do not give the right value.

And so, when the next glass of Vernaccia di Corniglia is raised in the light of the sunset that paints the waters of the Cinque Terre golden, a toast will be made not only to an excellent wine, but also to history, culture and that invisible thread that links our days to those of a time when a glass of wine was a source of inspiration and medicine for the soul.

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