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Località Casisano, 52
53024 Montalcino SI

The countess and the poet, a history of literature and wine in Montalcino.

Not many can boast mention in an illustrious quote, such as this appreciative verse by one of the greatest poets and the first Italian to win the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1906.

If the Montalcino wines can do it, the credit goes to an otherworldly woman of a different era. “I wipe myself with the Argiano wine, which is so good”, Giosuè Carducci wrote in an enthusiastic letter dated 1886 and addressed to Countess Ersilia Caetani Lovatelli, owner at the time of the historic Arginao cellar.  The Renaissance villa, surrounded by Brunello vineyards, was designed by Baldassarre Peruzzi, one of the greatest architects ever. The Villa has remained in the hands of noble families like the Peccis, who commissioned the 16th-century project.

Since then, it has always represented a unicum in Montalcino, much like Ersilia herself. She was known for her great culture; she challenged the conventions of the time, according to which women could not study, and devoted herself to archeology. She learned Greek, Latin and Sanskrit, wrote books and publications, and was the first woman to enter the Italian Academy of the Lincei in 1879.  She became a member of prestigious academies like Crusca and was awarded the Laurea Honoris Causa from the University of Halle.

The Argiano cellar, built in the seventeenth century, was already well known.  However, the international appreciation came to the production of Argiano’s wines thanks to the countess. The Villa became a literary salon hosting some of the most important Italian poets, such as Carducci. Among the members of Ersilia’s circle of “intelligentsia” were the poet Gabriele D’Annunzio and the French writer and philosopher Émile Zola.

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