One of the most famous miracles that everyone knows is the tale of the Wedding at Cana, when Jesus transformed water into wine. It may seem blasphemous to say so, but with my natural (and perhaps overzealous) tendency to look for connections between things, it was that very sensation that popped into my head when I first set foot in the Cantinone B&B and Holiday Apartments, owned by Jane and Ian. Allow me to explain: this impressive country home which now hosts tourists from every corner of Europe once had a very different purpose. During the Second World War, all the wine produced in the region of Cupramontana would be gathered there. It was a simple wine, what we would call a ‘table wine’, and one in which the local citizens took great pride. This pursuit, which will by now have made clear to you the origins of its name, made the Cantinone a sort of magical place, a casket that contained the people’s effort and their spirit of initiative during that era gave them little time to think about anything else other than survival. Cupramontana, just to be clear, is the birthplace of our extraordinary Verdicchio grape.
With the end of the war and the passing of time, new and now famous wine cellars have arisen around this monument to the daily life of the people of Le Marche, and the Cantinone has ceased to perform its historic duty. Gradually it fell into ruin and became picturesque rubble, riddled with mystery. Generations passed and the significance of what this old country house had meant to the local history was lost.
Some years later, when Jane and Ian bought the ruins with the help of Grazia, they were confronted with the challenge of renovating an enormous building, covered with creeping plants and in many areas reduced to rubble. It was a sort of lost paradise that within a couple of years would be transformed before their eyes into a potential paradise. Little by little work progressed, the couple discovered new parts of a house that, had previously been hidden by heaps of rubble, walls in tatters and dust. One of the most remarkable discoveries – finally I’m able to explain to you the nature of the miracle – was the natural spring that was hidden away within the deepest tunnel of this vast cellar. In the deepest recesses of its structure, the building that greedily took care of the wine from a whole valley, now revealed its greatest mystery: water. Water that is linked to a deep well, which on the surface is almost entirely hidden by brambles. When Jane told me of the emotion she felt the day she first discovered this phenomenon, stressing that a way must be found to make it accessible to the visitors of the B&B (jbecause to do so will require going through Ian’s workshop), it dawned on me that not even years of neglect could have spoilt the charm of the place, and that the wine locked away in those spacious rooms had transformed itself into water. A sort of miracle in reverse, it would appear.
When Jane and Ian decided to move permanently to Le Marche, they never imagined they would transform the Cantinone into a B&B: they understood however, having stayed in many neighbouring B&Bs whilst working, that it could be a way of bringing new life to the building and sharing its beauty with others. Today the Cantinone is a farmhouse basked in light; the large apartment and living room windows give light to the furniture that is both inviting and comfortable. At the centre of large garden, where finally the beautiful well appears in all its glory, is an attractive swimming pool from where a panorama of the valley can be appreciated. All the apartments are self-catering, giving families the possibility of a holiday that wont break the bank. And if Jane says that the project, “like every project, is unfinished”, it seems that this would be perfectly fitting with the history of a place that has not yet finished its story or ceased to reveal, little by little, its wonderful secrets.
The Paradise Trotter
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By Chris Palfreyman on
Re: The Miracle of Cantinone
This place sounds amazing!! These vivid descriptions really bring the magic alive!