Let me tell you about a village, where the sun shines all year ‘round, where the rolling hills are covered by vineyards – and where a fountain in the town centre flows freely with red wine.
The Italian village of Abruzzo has installed a wine fountain in the middle of the city, which dispenses local wine for free and is never turned off. The village is an important stop on the Cammino di San Tommaso pilgrimage route, a walk which attracts thousands every year.
Many of those who make the pilgrimage do so to visit the Ortona cathedral, where the remains of Jesus’ disciple Thomas are kept. The fountain probably makes a bit more sense now, because turning water into wine and having it free around the clock is a positively Jesus thing to do.
It’s not the first free wine fountain to be installed in an Italian village. But unlike the similar fountain in Marino which flows only during that city’s grape festival, the Abruzzo fountain flows January through to December.
The vineyard has encouraged all interested to make the holy pilgrimage to the fountain, but warning that the privilege was not for ‘drunkards’ or ‘louts’.
Hey, what kind of pathetic drunks do you take us for? Oh look, someone spilled beer in this ashtray!
So far the results have been far from chaotic. Visitors have been gratefully sampling the free red pretty much without incident – reminding us once again that Europe is indeed a magical place.
Can you imagine the immediate social destruction that would take place if we installed a free wine fountain in Australia? There’d be riots, looting in the streets – and no one would go to work again ever.
But while the fountain would run dry if installed closer to home, there’s nothing to stop us grabbing a bucket and heading to the airport. At least until we destroy our reputation beyond repair a la Australians at Oktoberfest. (Australia is the only country which sends a special delegation from the Australian Embassy in Berlin to Munich to “aid jailed and hospitalised Australians”.)
But forget all that. Get in while the going’s good and while the wine flows freely.