Situated on the hills above Rome, the sleepy town of Marino wakes up once a year on the 4th of October to 100,000 people descending upon it. The festival began in 1925 by local poet Leone Ciprelli and since then has grown in fame. The day is held to celebrate the Battle of Lepanto in 1571, in which the Ottoman Turks were defeated and the town’s most famous son, Marcantonio Colonna, returned to Marino victorious.
The history lesson behind it is all good and well, but people don’t come from all over Italy to remember the great Colonna… They come for the free wine that is distributed from the town’s main ‘Fountain of Four Moors’. Which, on this day, does not spray water but rather white wine! The event also includes a parade, musical procession and hundreds of food stalls to keep you going. Grapes are also thrown into the crowd once the fountain is turned on… One delightfully drunk Roman threw one straight at me, leaving a nice pile of soggy grape on my jeans.
The festival was definitely a lot of fun, however if I have ever questioned Italian transport I am truly sorry. The day of the festival was in fact the worse I have ever seen it. Being crammed into a train (that only runs every couple of hours) with hundreds upon hundreds of sweaty people during mid-day heat to the point where you cannot move an inch left or right and then being faced with a 40 minute delay was the tipping point on the way in.
A glass of wine (or three) was definitely needed once we finally offloaded and stumbled deliriously into Marino!