Sunday, June 25
In the village of Grottole there are still many caves carved into the rocks. Originally, these caves were the first houses in which people used to live. These caves still exist today, but today they no longer serve as houses, but as a kind of cellar in which food and wine are stored and family celebrations are held.
The caves are called “cantina” here and many families in Grottole own a cantina, which can vary in size and depth. During our time in Grottole we stayed at the “Wonder Casa” in the historic center of Grottole, also known as the “Cave District”. Precisely because there are so many caves here. So Christoph and I became friends with our cave neighbor Francesco, whom we met by chance while he was cleaning up his cave next to our house. Over the next few weeks we kept having nice conversations with Francesco in Italian. Francesco also brought us a bottle of his homemade wine several times, which Christoph was particularly pleased about. One day we were spontaneously given a tour of his small cave, where he also explained to us how he makes his wine.
A few days later we took part in another “experience” of the “Wonder Grottole” project: the wine tour with Silvio. We first visited the small vineyard of Silvio’s family and then drove to their cave, which was in the cave district, near our house. The cave itself is closed with an impressive heavy wooden door, which is unlocked with a huge old key, the kind you only see in fairy tales. The door you see in this illustration is the door of Silvio’s cave. If you go through the door, you are in the covered anteroom of the actual cave, where Silvio keeps his wine-making equipment. The actual cave in the rock is hidden behind a curtain. When Silvio pushed the curtain aside and the view behind became clear, we were immediately impressed. The cave beyond was much bigger and deeper than we had imagined! The ceiling height was high enough that even Christoph could easily walk/stand upright and the stone and rock walls everywhere were just impressive. In the back of the cave, Silvio’s homemade wine was stored in huge glass amphorae. It was nice and cool in the cave and you couldn’t feel the heat from outside any more.
After we had learned a lot about wine production from Silvio, there also was a buffet with Italian specialties at the end (of course also in the cave) and those who wanted could of course finally try Silvio’s homemade wine! Although the whole tour was of course very exciting, my personal highlight was experiencing the amazing cave of Silvio’s family.