A starry night in Carmignano
On the most evocative night of the summer, with countless shooting stars setting the scene, wine lovers from all over Italy will be able to choose their perfect destination and head off for one of the many towns that will be hosting Calici di Stelle again this year.
The traditional summer event thought up by the Wine Tourism Movement celebrating Bacchus, the Roman god of wine, offers tourists a chance to enjoy "the shower of Saint Lawrence's tears" accompanied by fine wine and expertly guided by skilled sommeliers and famous Italian wine-makers.
By way of the tasting sessions, which go hand in hand with typical local products, visitors will be drawn into a sensory sphere of little pleasures for the body, mind and sight as well as for the taste buds too of course.
In the loveliest squares and villages of Italy, in courtyards of unexpected beauty and castles, wine lovers who are passionate about fine wine can taste the best wines from member wineries combined with exquisite typical products, an expression of the local heritage of every region that hosts the event.
Here in Tuscany, the event dedicated to Bacchus and Saint Lawrence will take place in Carmignano, in the province of Prato, the smallest controlled and warranted designation of origin zone (known as DOCG) in Italy and the fourth one to be established in Tuscany back in 1990.
This is the ideal occasion to try one of the leading products of the land, the full-bodied and elegant Carmignano Rosso DOCG and the younger Barco Reale DOC, which was named after the extensive hunting reserve that Grand-Duke Ferdinand II de' Medici had set up in these parts in the Montalbano area.
There's also the refreshing Vin Ruspo DOC, a rosé that can be enjoyed by itself, perhaps as an aperitif, and which also goes very well with starters, meat stews, fish and shellfish.
To finish there's Vin Santo, in the sweet and amiable variety, excellent served with cantuccini cookies and the local Biscotti di' Fochi. In this perfect union, Tuscan nibbles will be served with the wine, such as pecorino cheese, finocchiona [salami with fennel seeds], Tuscan salami, soprassata [salami made with meat and lard] and bread simply drizzled with local Carmignano oil, as well as the afore-mentioned cantuccini cookies, jams and dishes prepared by some local caterers.
Throughout the weekend of 10th August, the wine showcase will go hand in hand with a busy set of events that will entertain with jazz and classical concerts, historical processions, theatre performances and fireworks, and a myriad of Italian and foreign tourists who flock here for the occasion.
It's a chance for a flying visit to the cities of art and a tour of the little villages lost in the Tuscan hills or simply to enjoy a panorama that blends with the bright green of the vineyards and the clear blue skies in the summer months.
The Tuscan tasting session organised by the local tourist board will be held, as has been the case every year since 2000, in the divine gardens of the majestic medieval fortress, in front of the bell tower, whose tolling once punctuated life in the countryside surrounding the little town.
From the age-old vedettes of the fortress, experts and amateur astronomers will point out the constellations, leaving the 3,000 people who crossed the castle's threshold in previous years, and especially in 2011, with their noses in the air.