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June 19, 2024 3 min read

For a brand who’s been deeply involved with Italy for many years, when we learned of Armaurto customer Marc Millon’s latest book, Italy in a Wine Glass, we couldn’t wait to get our hands on a copy.

Hi Marc, congratulations on such an amazing publication! Tell us about Italy In A Wine Glass.

More than anywhere else, the story of Italy is intimately entwined with the story of its wines. From antiquity – the ancient Greeks, Phoenicians, Etruscans and Romans – through the triumph of Christianity, the Dark Ages, and the Renaissance, to when foreign powers rules over most of the Italian peninsula – Spanish, Austrians, Napoleon – and from Risorgimento and the creation of the Kingdom of Italy, and through world wars, an economic miracle, ‘Made in Italy’, feminism and the Mafia, to Covid-19 and the present day, there are so many myths, stories, personalities, events and social movements that connect Italy’s rich and complex history to its equally rich and diverse wines. “Italy in a Wineglass”  explores the history of Italy through the story of its wines.

Apart from the Cycling and wine of course, what is it you love about Italy?

There is so much to love - the beauty of the countryside, from the Alps and the Dolomites (great places to cycle and where I want to explore more), across the broad Po Valley through central Italy - Le Marche, still undiscovered, as well as Umbria and Tuscany, to the South and Sicily. The gastronomy, art, and culture of Italy is all part of the pleasure of being there.

You mentioned your old friend Nello, how did you meet?

Kim and I had spent a year living in Italy while we were writing and photographing our book “The Wine Roads of Italy” (HarperCollins 1991). On our return to Topsham, we found that Nello Ghezzo had opened an authentic and wonderful restaurant, Nello’s Ristorante. We quickly became the closest friends, enjoying food and wine, of course, and also taking up road cycling together. We hatched a plan to cycle from Topsham to Venice to raise money for Force Cancer Charity and achieved this goal in 1997. Nello and Karen were married in 1998, then, tragically, he was stricken with aggressive cancer and died in 1999. At his funeral, I pledged two things: to begin a memorial cycle ride in his name and honour and in aid of Force, and to achieve his dream of creating what he called ‘a longest table’ extending through all the streets of Topsham. This year will be the 25th Nello on June 30th, and the week before will be Nello’s Longest Table, with around 400 tables linked through our town to celebrate local food and friendship, this year with an Italian twist.

So, the Nello XXV, when is it and how do we enter?

Nello XXV will take place on June 30th from Topsham Rugby Club with two routes, a 60 mile route across mid-Devon and the classic Nello century route over the roof of Exmoor and back. Both are great rides, not races, not sportives, but rides that are undertaken with a true sense of camaraderie and friendship in support of a great local charity, Force. An added reason to ride the Nello: the food stops are generous and outstanding with an array of wonderful foods, much homemade, to keep you going all along the way. To enter the Nello 2024, click here:

What are your wine recommendations for our cycling community, Marc?

You mentioned your favourite sparkling wine in the world, Berlucchi Palazzo Lana Extrême, what can you recommend for us from your book, Marc?

Well, here’s a list of some personal favourites from the book (there are 90 in total).

Pithos Rosso 2009 from Azienda Agricola COS @aziendaagricolacos (Chapter 1 From Wine Dark Seas)

Erminia Fiano di Avelino Riserva 2004, Di Meo @dimeo_vini @robertodimeoenologo (Chapter 15 Spanish Italy)

Barbera d’Alba 2005 Cascina Fontana @cascina_fontana (Chapter 20 Wars and Wine)

Palazzo Lana Extrême Réserva 2011, Berlucchi @berlucchiwine (Chapter 22 ‘Made in Italy’)

Gorgona 2021, Marchesi Frescobaldi @marchesifrescobaldi (Chapter 23 Crime and Wine)

Ribolla Gialla 2014, Gravner @joskogravner @matejagravner (Chapter 25 Back to the Future)

Grazie e cin cin a tutti!

Thank you, Marc!

You can order a copy of Marc’s book, Italy In A wine Glass from the following,

Amazon - Waterstone - Blackwells, and from all independent booksellers.