The Vernaccia: the first wine of the Cinque Terre

The “Vernaccia” wine, produced in the Cinque Terre area, spread widely with great success in the 13th century and most of the historians claim that to give the name to this wine was the ancient nucleus of Vernazza, stamping a trademark origin to a very famous product that takes the way of the sea. In fact, the toponym appears a century before the same name is found to indicate the wine.
The other hypothesis is that the village of Vernazza would derive its name from the wine, being the only safe harbor in the Cinque Terre where it is possible to embark a substantial quantity of the product coming from the neighboring localities.
The “Vernaccia” was a wine of high alcohol content and valuable that could be likened to strong and liqueur wines from the eastern Mediterranean coast, such as Malvasia or Moscato. Historical documents attest that vine vessels of “Vernaccia” were found in the cellars of Pompei with the words “vinum Corneliae” engraved, that is of Corniglia, one of the villages of the Cinque Terre and the closest to Vernazza.
In 1500 the “Vernaccia” from Liguria is also mentioned by Boccaccio in the Decamerone, as a wine capable of curing the stomach pains of abbot Cluny and Pope Paul III and capable of giving great nourishment in winter, especially for elderly people .
Practically it can be said that the “Vernaccia” was the ancestor of Sciaccchetrà, since it was produced in modest quantities and thanks to its strong alcohol content, it allowed conservation avoiding turning into vinegar and being transported for long distances, reaching the tables of the nobles of the time.
In “Descriptio orae ligusticae” Giacomo Bracelli, Chancellor of the Republic of Genoa in the mid-fifteenth century, describes the coast between Punta Mesco and Portovenere talking about the five villages separated from each other by an equal distance with stony cliffs that do not retain moisture, covered with vines so thirsty and slender to look more like ivy than vine.
The wine produced in this area is so renown that it used to “set the tables of kings”.
The photos are by André Leuba, Eduard Kopp and Anselmo Crovara kept in the Archives of Memory Anselmo Crovara in Via Aldo Rollandi in Manarola.