Though only a small village, in summer Moniga Del Garda becomes a hot-spot for evening entertainment. As well as the several bars serving aperitivo at the picturesque port, the central piazza (really the only piazza – as I said, it’s a small village) hosts several concerts, and even a mid summer beer festival which attracts a huge mix of tourists and locals.
The castle also plays an important role in summer entertainment, through its lake-view cocktail-serving kiosk, regular live music and the increasingly popular annual event, Italia In Rosa. Normally taking place in June each year, it sees the outside area of the castle overtaken by around 80 wine stalls, plus a couple of food stands in the lower section. The relevance to Moniga is that some of the most famed Italian rosé wine (hence “Rosa”) originates here, though the event sees wineries come from all over the country, with the stalls ordered by region.
I’ll admit, I was a bit wary of this event: firstly because it meant my tranquil reading spot was imposed upon, secondly because 10euro still strikes a scrooge such as me as a lot of money, and thirdly because wine events can attract a certain snobby crowd. In fact, in the end it was not so much by deliberate choice that I attended: I headed to the castle with my boyfriend hoping for a relaxing sit down in our favourite view point, completely forgetting it was the weekend of Italia in Rosa. Being the Italian he is, and the alcoholic I am, we couldn’t resist the appeal of wine: a short five minute queue and thirty euros (to include a deposit on the wine glass) later, we arrived armed with breadsticks, a leaflet, and a wine glass handily supported by a necklace.
The first thing I noticed was that we weren’t, as we had thought in the queue, out of place in our casual clothes. There were some more elegantly dressed professionals, but they were balanced by tourists and locals who, like us, had stumbled upon the event. The second thing was: “how I am ever going to taste ALL the wine?”. Eighty stalls is a lot, but you then have to counter for the fact that several stalls have two or three options. Yes, they only ever give you a taster, but you’d be surprised how quickly they add up. It is for this reason – and the fact that I am not nearly a professional wine taster – that I cannot give a valid view of the wines we tried. Though we made notes for the first few, they soon became confused, and I’m quite certain that our taste was slightly tarnished for the later samples. I can say, however, that there was a huge mix there. The base was obviously rosé , including the Garda famous Chiaretto, and for those who like a particularly sweet taste there were some excellent spumantes and moscatos (towards the end I was considering disguising myself in order to get more refills of a particularly deliciously downable moscato).
It also paid off having a few contacts through English students: in the first few stalls, I met Andrea Bertazzi, whose agricoltura (a restaurant serving only home-grown and home-made produce) Il Roccolo Bertazzi, in Polpenazze del Garda, offers buffet aperitivos for groups with a range of their own wines. I can fully recommend their chiaretto.
Overall, there were only two downsides to the whole event:
There was nowhere to wash out your glass. This struck me as a clear overlook on the organisers part: although there were a few spots to tip out any unwanted wine (pfft, as if), there was nowhere to rinse it out. I’m not a professional, but even I know you want a clean – if not fresh – glass when trying a different wine.
There was only one food stall. Though everyone I spoke to complimented the food served, we never even attempted getting it due to the huge queue that the only food stall for hundreds of guests is likely to attract. If any organisers see this, I would suggest at least three food stalls, and spaced out around the event so the crowd isn’t confined to one area.
It could be down to the small dinner of breadsticks (and consequently only taking the first few stalls to get me tipsy), but the night was one of my best for this summer. For a piece of local culture, a professional wine tasting, a relaxed evening with friends, or just a chance to get drunk, Italia in Rosa will meet your needs and, even better, do so in one of the most overlooked viewpoints on Lake Garda. When you get to that tenth wine glass and need a sit down, you can collapse on the embankment to admire the lights glistening over the water from Sirmione, and know that your 10 euros were definitely well spent.