At the end of the Cammino di San Tommaso, a 196-mile pilgrimage from Rome to Ortona, Italy, are the relics of St. Thomas the Apostle. It’s a long, thirsty walk to get there. If only there was a water fountain.
Turns out, there’s something even better: a wine fountain. If you make it all the way to the small village of Villa Caldari di Ortona, a local winery has got you covered. A few miles before you reach the end of the route—the reliquary at Basilica Cattedrale di San Tommaso Apostolo—there is a fountain of wine available during the winery opening hours.
To help out parched travelers, Dora Sarchese Vini has erected the fountain outside of their tasting room, just off the Strada Statale (State Road) 538. Built inside of a mock wine cask, the fountain consists of two brass spigots set in a stone basin, streaming free glasses of red wine for all who stop by—be they a pilgrim or just a thirty tourist.
The fountain is a joint venture between the vintner/owner of Dora Sarchese and the organization promoting and maintaining the Cammino di San Tommaso (the Way of St. Thomas). The hope is to draw more travelers to follow the pilgrim route that was established in 1365 by Saint Bridget of Sweden, who twice walked from Rome to Ortona in honor of St. Thomas, and to see the relics at the Basilica.
Dora Sarchese Vini sees the fountain as a gift for the Cammino di San Tommaso, and as a way for the vintner to help spread their word. The hope is to welcome more visitors to Ortona, and to provide them with a little sustenance to make it the last few miles. But please: one glass each. The owner says it’s not for “drunkards or louts.”
Know Before You Go
There are other wine fountains in Italy, but they are temporary set-ups usually as part of a specific festival. This fountain is the first one permanently installed, and is located at the Dora Sarchese winery in the village of Caldari Ortona, just outside of the town of Ortona. It can be visited during the winery's opening hours: Monday - Friday from 9:30am to 12:30pm, and again from 3:30pm to 7:00pm. Also open Saturday mornings (closed on Sunday).Villa Caldari and Ortona are part of the Abruzzo region of Italy, along the central Adriatic coast. The route of the pilgrimage begins in Rome, and ends in Ortona at the relics of St. Thomas the Apostle, inside the Basilica on Piazza S. Tommaso.