It is not often one is presented with a reasonable excuse for enjoying a glass of fine wine as a parent, but Cantina Frentana’s e-bike tour to Rocca San Giovanni and back, as part of May’s Cantine Aperte (Open Cantina), presents a lovely opportunity for just that, blending a wonderful exploration of a vineyard area with family fun and a culturally rewarding wine experience.
As you hop on your e-bike, provided by Cantina’s sister company Frentana Bike, or in our case the excellent Sorgini Bicimania and meander gently with your group through the scattered vineyards, the gentle hum of the e-bikes harmonises with the laughter and chatter of children as they race and of course, win on their traditional bikes. The air is crisp and fragrant, carrying the sweet scents of blooming wildflowers and the chalky earth aroma of the vineyards. The e-bikes effortlessly glide through the terrain that has only a small incline up to Rocca San Giovanni, which sits on a spur 150 metres above sea level. This ensures a comfortable and enjoyable ride for everyone, regardless of age or fitness level, fanned by a refreshing maritime springtime breeze.
Rocca San Giovanni
It was in Rocca San Giovanni primary school that the local doctor suggested local farmers come together to form the first regional wine cooperative in 1958, growing rapidly to include 431 members within a decade. The cantina’s slow travel bike initiative is a perfect fit for its members, who have always seen themselves as the guardians of the landscape. As the later generations of some families move away from farming the land, Cantina Frentana buys it to ensure its guardianship and that its precious vines are not lost. They have created 5 e-bike itineraries for all ages with suggestions for where to eat along the Costa dei Trabocco and evocative historical villages to visit that sit adjacent to this pretty medieval village.
Do weave your bike through the wonderful alleys of the town. It’s carefully maintained and beautifully decorated with tasteful art and historical displays. Originally Rocca San Giovanni was built to originally safely house the monks of the nearby famous abbey, San Giovanni in Venere. Unfortunately, little remains today from that time, though its walls have been restored and its 12th-century bell tower still stands. The last of its three medieval quadrangular towers in the south of the town was destroyed in November 1943 when the Allies bombarded and seized the town from the Nazies, who had been holding it as part of their defensive Benard Line. If you’d like to join the town’s annual festa dedicated to its patron saint, San Matteo, do make a visit on the 21st of September. Try the local dish palazzole, which combines anchovies or sardines, breadcrumbs, garlic, parsley and extra virgin olive oil.
Once back at the winery, enjoy a walking tour of the cantina that includes a spiral staircase to the top of its 25-metre wine tower, Torre Vinaria (there is a lift for those who require a little help!). Blue heady views out over the Adriatic coast and the surrounding countryside of vineyards and olive & orange groves with the Maiella in the distance provide a wonderful panoramic experience. Residents keep an eye open on this as they often use it as a restaurant on special days of the year and host lunch and dinner! Then, it’s down to its oaky cellars before wine tasting accompanied by a plate of delicious local antipasti, the cheese was particularly good! Parents really do win-win on this experience, with children sated enough from adventure and a delicious plate of antipasti to sit still and gobble down whilst they can enjoy an indulgent wine tasting!
This e-bike adventure offers lots of unforgettable moments for children of all ages and their wine-loving parents who are looking to have some fun and play as well as being mum and dad.