Liguria: vineyards on the cliffs above the sea

Wine-making in Liguria has roots stretching back to the remote past: starting with the ancient Greeks, on to the ancient Romans and then to Marine Republic of Genova, the culture of wine has been passed on through the centuries by the populations that have inhabited this land. The rugged and uneven territory of this region, stretching for the most part along an arc of mountains at the edge of the sea, has always made it diffult to cultivate wine here: hence it is not unusual to hear about "heroic" winemaking when talking about Liguria. The most acclaimed example is the terraced vineyards on the cliffs of the sea in zone of Cinque Terre (the Five Lands): Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso. Won from the earth by long years of industrious labor, the vineyards have been literally carved out of the side of the mountains and reinforced with dry stone walls. Until not long ago the only way the farmers could reach the vineyards was to repel down the rocks in a rope harness.

In Cinque Terre, which has inspired the admiration of poets and writers from every age, from Petrarch to Gabriele D'Annunzio, grows one of the rarest sweet wines in Italy: Sciacchetrà. The name is derived from two terms in the local dialect: "sciac", which means "schiacciare" (to crush) and "tra", which means "trarre"(to pull, drag), which refers to the long period in which the grapes are aged. One of the peculiarities of the panorama of wine culture in Liguria is the large quantity of diverse types of vines. We can attribute this to vigorous commercial trading due to its near vicinity to the Mediterranean, sea trade having had a much more important role in the past. Another characteristic of Ligurian wine is the scarsity of its production, caused, since the beginning, by its lack of cultivatible terrain and, more recently, by the substitution of wine cultivation for other more profitiable agricultural investments. Today Liguria has one of the lowest rates of wine production in Italy.

The major part of what it produces are whites and are obtained from two traditional vines: Vermentino and Pigato.

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