We remember the story of Noah, the first vitner; but also of the tragic episode of the vineyard of Naboth. In Avignon, we still remember with emotion the wines of Valréas, which became famous thanks to Pope John XXII. But we know less about the picturesque anecdote of the vineyards of Castel Gandolfo, which has taken place under the successive pontificates of Benedict XVI and Francis.
It all began on April 19, 2005. Dressed in a crimson mozette on which the heavy papal stole embroidered in gold had been adjusted, Josef Ratzinger addressed his first greeting to the City and to the world, from the Lodge of Blessings.
The German pope alluded to receiving the sovereign pontificate as “a humble worker in the vineyard of the Lord.” An allusion that did not fall on deaf ears, on those of the National Confederation of Independent Farmers (Coldiretti).
The latter offered the new pontiff a vineyard, as well as all the machinery necessary for its cultivation, and for the production of wine. The place for the future pontifical vintage was chosen: the summer residence of the popes, Castel Gandolfo.
A few months later, the rows of Trebbiano - white grapes - and Cesanese di Affile - red grapes - alternated their rows on a modest surface of a thousand square meters, near the statue of the Good Shepherd and the fountain of Orpheus: they said that Benedict XVI liked to walk there.
But, fourteen years later, in 2019, the engines of the Argentinian excavators are heard in Castel Gandolfo: the Benedict XVI’s vineyard is torn up, cut up, destroyed in a few hours.
In the Vatican, they are passing the buck, or rather the bunch: the fault of the management of the Museums of the Pontifical Villas, it is being stated oltretevere. Above all, it should not be seen as a sign of any animosity towards the former Roman pontiff.
The Museums project—which was cut short in the meantime—was to build a conference center.
In 2021, a new twist: Pope Francis finally decided to plant his own vineyard in Castel Gandolfo - not far from the previous one - and to entrust the operation to Riccardo Cotarella, president of the Italian Association of Wine Producers .
The future vineyard will be much larger than the previous one, since it will cover nearly two hectares. According to the February 14 edition of the daily Il Messagero, the production of the papal vineyard and its consumption will be reserved for St. Martha’s House.
The German pope’s vineyard has given way to a vast rose garden, leaving Orpheus in peace. Let us hope that the war of the roses does not disturb his peace of mind, under a future pontificate.