MELISSA BLOCK, Host:
Winemaking in the region dates back to antiquity when wine was known also for its therapeutic properties. And Sylvia visited an Umbrian town where what was old is new again.
SYLVIA POGGIOLI, Host:
It's the creation of Maria Grazia Lungarotti.
MARIA GRAZIA LUNGAROTTI: (Through Translator) We all made wine more or less the way the Romans did until the Second World War. It all changed with modern machines and technology.
POGGIOLI: The displays alternate between the sacred and the profane - ceremonial bronze pieces and glassware from ancient Greece, alongside medieval and Renaissance winemaking tools. A large section is dedicated to rare books, engravings, and apothecary jars which illustrate the many uses of wine in medicine and cosmetics. And now, visitors to Torgiano have the chance to experience those old methods put into practice. It's called wine therapy.
POGGIOLI: (Speaking foreign language).
TERESA SEVERINI: The wine therapy spa is called Bella Uve because bella is bella everywhere in every language. You understand the meaning. And uve because it's from the grape.
POGGIOLI: Teresa Severini is the daughter of Maria Grazia Lungarotti and one of Italy's first female enologists. She says the idea of using wine for wellness goes way back.
SEVERINI: Many centuries ago, where you can find recipes to have good skin, good health. Still today, if you go into the country, you can find people emerging the legs in the wine when they are tired or doing a massage on the scalp because of the good properties of wine.
POGGIOLI: The spa has revived the ancient use of grapes and wine to make unguents, perfumes and soaps applied with modern massage methods. Every treatment uses a specific wine for foot massages, facials or body peelings.
EMANUELLA MENELLA: (Speaking foreign language).
POGGIOLI: Masseuse Emanuella Menella starts filling the wooden tub that looks like a wine cask. As she adds three liters of San Giovese red, she describes the treatment called the Wave of Bacchus.
MENELLA: We start the wine therapy with a scrub, massage with a cream with wine, (unintelligible) wine, and after the bath in wine, you feel energized because the wine activates circulation. It is an antioxidant and relaxing the muscles.
POGGIOLI: Menella says all the treatments are just modern versions of what a person like Cleopatra would have been accustomed to.
MENELLA: If she did the bath in wine, the bath with milk for moisturizing her skin. So we take the old treatment, here in Umbria, we have old product, all-natural product. Why not use that?
POGGIOLI: Sylvia Poggioli, NPR News.
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