Firriato Hospitality

History and Tradition

The Cavanera Etnea Resort & Wine Experience is situated within the Etna national park nature reserve, in the area north east of the volcano. This area, along with the southern slope, is one which has been subject to a high incidence of urbanisation, more than any other. It has an important presence of small agricultural plots marked by splendid examples of antique farmhouses.

Here, at Cavanera Etnea, the labourers carried out their farm work while living in a small community—housing complexes consisting of the austere main house, with the presence of frugal animal shelters, and buildings containing palmentos (stone wine pressing basins) for the transformation of the grapes into wine. These palmentos are evidence of the vine cultivation that has always occurred on the slopes of the volcano.

In 2009, Firriato restored one of these typical Etna housing complexes with an antique palmento annex, obtaining a small but modern winery from the restoration. This winery processes the grapes grown in the vineyards surrounding the Cavanera Etnea Resort. The complex’s restoration was carried out without undermining the morphology of the rooms.

At the building’s foundation, the ancient splendour of the palmento has been restored. The palmento (an old word applied to the structure and the equipment contained within, for making wine), dating back to the 1700s, contains the wooden wine press, the containment vats carved out from the rock, and the drainage channels which were made either from terracotta or hollowed out from the hard basalt rock.

This precious example of a physical artefact linked to Etna’s wine-making culture is testimony of a history which Firriato has restored and brought to life once again. It is in the vineyard, however, that the most precious Cavanera Etnea treasure is kept.

Along the contours of the lavascape, formed after the 1556 eruption, stretches the oldest part of the Contrada Verzella vineyard, containing extraordinary plants both in terms of their shape but also their life force. They are discernible from all other vines by the shape of their trunks. These trunks have often evolved forming concentric circles, spirals, and gnarled branches. They are creatures forged in time and that Father Time has brought to us rich in history and yet full of life, tenacity, and bountiful fruit. They are not vines grown on rootstock, and some precede the arrival of the phylloxera epidemic at the end of the 19th century. These plants are extraordinary specimens. They are nature’s sculptures in which the atavistic memory of those who planted them lives on. They are a real, true, open air museum, where it is possible to retrace the history of Etnea’s viticulture.

This is Firriato’s unique offering, at the Cavanera Etnea Estate, under the proud gaze of the volcano. Coming to stay at the Cavanera Etnea Resort & Wine Experience is an opportunity to come into direct contact with a dimension of excellence, a dimension where wines from the volcano are at the centre of a journey of discovery into the Firriato universe. It is a place where the terroir is the reason for everything, for authentic quality.