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Current topics, themes, musings and travel notes

July 20, 2023

Lunch with Bacchus! (Sort of)

A pair of Valpo vintners pairs wine (and food) with unearthed spectacular Roman mosaics

I hear it all the time: Wine is culture. Wine is history. Wine is this territory.

But what does that mean when your local history is so old it’s unearthed by archaeologists?

I am speaking of the Roman Villa mosaics unearthed under vineyards and a fruit orchard in Valpolicella.

Giuliano Franchini

Giuliano Franchini of Franchini on the Villa site. Photo by Robert Camuto.

All around it’s been a great thing. The two vintners who own different parts of the land, have spent hundreds of thousands to fund the excavation – which is handy as the Italian State is more-or-less broke.

In what could be a model for future digs, the owners get to bring guests free of charge to the site and get to use the mosaic images found under their properties.

The owners of Benedetti La Villa and Franchini, are smart businesspeople. And the presence of an archaeological site adds another element to wine tourism. Franchini went so far as having a local chef consult with archaeologists and prepare an ancient type meal from local wild ingredients.

But basically the wines in the bottles adorned with those ancient images are the same modern wines. Should they be? Or should they too be an effort at something like an authentic recreation? And if so, how authentic? Would we even find Roman wine (often preserved with seawater) drinkable?

Read about this piece of Romans-in-Valpolicella history in the latest Robert Camuto Meets… (free) at

Twin brothers Matteo (left) and Simone (right) of Benedetti La Villa

Twin brothers Matteo (left) and Simone (right) of Benedetti La Villa. Photo courtesy of the winery.