A combination of beauty and... yummy
The castle in Duino is a cliff-side location jutting into the northern side of the Gulf of Trieste, surrounded by an extraordinary park combining both Mediterranean and Carso (Karst) vegetation. The sea breeze sure whets someone's appetite for good food and beverage, which is a sound reason indeed to choose it for such an event as “Mare and Vitovska”! And it was also a wise choice promoters made, to put together not only local winemakers (here's the full list) but also local restaurants and farmers (here's the full list) so that visitors are tempted to taste regional dishes and local-made cheese, honey, olive oil, hams and salami, while sipping on their Vitovska glasses and listening to the precious advice of Friuli's sommeliers from AIS (Italian Sommelier Association).
Growing on a hard land
As it usually happens with legends, there are a few theories about this white native grapevine's name. Some say it comes from the city of Vitovlje (Vittuglia in Italian), near Nova Gorica in Slovenia. For some others, it derives from vitica, a Slovenian word meaning tendril, or from vitez, “knight”, also Slovenian, which clearly assures that's the language it generated from anyway.
Its grapes are round and light green, and only recently Vitovska has been devoted to a monoproduction, and not mixed with other grapes as it was used to be. It's a very resistant vine and so it must be, to challenge and endure the typical harshness of Carso territory and its peculiar climate. Its strength helped it survive from Roman times up to nowadays passionate winemakers, who brought this fragrant and fruity white wine back to a well deserved life of its own.
Vitovska is part of the Carso, or Carso-Kras, DOC (Denomination of Controlled Origin), which means it's officially recognized as a native grapevine which is peculiar to the Karstic geographical area and so it can be cultivated only in selected territories of Gorizia and Trieste's provinces (including Duino-Aurisina) in Italy. But it's also grown in selected areas in Slovenia and Croatia.
The castle and the ghost
Legends not only surround Vitovska's name, but the Duino castle too. As for all old mansions, there are a variety of ghost stories going around... The most popular one, handed down from Medieval times, is about the “White Dame”. An evil and jealous knight living in the castle, one night drew his pure-hearted wife up to the cliff and pushed her down to her death in the whirpools underneath. Such a dreadful terror took over her spirit, screaming while plunging off into the water, that an impression of her got caught on a protruding rock just beneath the castle, resembling a white-veiled lady. And... it's still clearly visible!
A bit of tragic, but a lot of magic: the beauty of the spot conquered ranks of artists, including musicians Johann Strauss and Franz Liszt, and poets Paul Valéry and Rainer Maria Rilke. The latter composed there and dedicated to Duino one of his work, the Duino Elegies and in 1987 a scenic path in the castle's park was named after him. The Rilke trail is part of the Regional Natural Reserve of Duino's Falesie (Cliffs), which encompasses both coastal and Karstic mountainous territories.
The new castle rises partly on, and partly beside the ancient Roman military fortress's ruins, and boasts a long history itself. It hosts events and exhibitions and it's open to visitors, and so is the park. Here you can find anything you'd like to know about its history, opening hours and more.
Photos taken from Carso Vino Kras Facebook page