The plentiful production of wine, and its proverbial quality.



Farming in general and wine growing in particular were in abundance and were developed in the lands of the Picenes. Experts agree in saying that definite traces of wine growing and making date back to the Xth century before Christ and that the Greek colonies and also the Etruscans had a key role in this "beginning of wine".

The plentiful production of wine, and its proverbial quality, are confirmed by a famous and frequently quoted passage of the famous Greek historian of the II century before Christ Polybius. It speaks of the destructive raids of Hannibal in Italy during the second Punic War. After crossing the land of the Umbrian people, the Carthaginian General reached that of the Picenes and finally, for the first time since he arrived in Italy, he settled by the sea. He thus halted in the mid Adriatic area in the region of the Picenes, which “flourished with all the produce of the land”.

“Hannibal, having moved his settlement by just a small distance, stayed in the Adriatic region and, washing the horses with old wine, in view of its abundance, cured their scabs and illnesses: the same he did for his soldiers, whose injuries healed completely, making the others strong and ready for future needs”.
(Polibius of Megalopolis, “Stories”, edition by Giovanni Battista Cardona, Edizioni Scientifiche Italiane, 1968, page 302).

Again in Roman times, Pliny the Elder in his monumental “Naturalis Historia” praises the quality of the Piceno grapes and, when talking of the wines of these areas, he uses an exact adjective, being “generous”, which was later used in a fundamental work of Modern times.

Following centuries of history and enormous anthropological, social and political changes, we can indeed recollect a fundamental person for Italian oenology, namely Andrea Bacci, from the Marche region and physician of Pope Sixtus V (again from Marche).

In 1596 Bacci published his important work entitled “De naturali vinorum historia, de vinis Italiae e de conviviis antiquorum Libri VIII”. In the chapter entitled “In Picenis”, Bacci traced a profile of the “powerful” wines of the Piceno region, illustrating the entire production of the region, focusing on the close relationship between wine, traditions and local culture, which became the foundations of modern oenology awareness.


Identification between the culture of the ancient Picenes and today’s Marche land has also been legitimated by the present emblem of the Marche region, which depicts a stylised woodpecker (“picus” in latin) According to ancient Roman historiographical tradition, the bird protected the ritual migration (“ver sacrum”, sacred spring), as a totem, of a group of youngsters of the Sabine area towards the land of Ascoli Piceno as we know it today (source “Picenes people of Europe”, Rome, De Luca, 1999. Catalogue of the travelling exhibition).


The ancient pre-Roman Picenes (or Picentes), descending from the Sabellians, have fascinated generations of historians, archaeologists and anthropologists. This Italic population is attested by the archaeological findings of recent years to have lived along the mid Adriatic coastal plain since pre-historical times.

However, researchers do not provide an interpretation that agrees unanimously on the geographic areas occupied by the Picenes. The biggest discussion is the southern limit of this area. According to some Latin and Greek sources (Pliny, “Naturalis historia”, 3.18.110-112; Strabone, “Geografia”, 5.4.2), the area occupied by the Picenes reached as far as the river Foglia in Pesaro, through to the central north area of today’s Abruzzo region, with the Apennine range as the western boundary.

Archaeological findings however contradict these sources and confirm some major differences in the material culture between the land to the south and north of the river Tronto, which is presently the boundary between the Marche and Abruzzo regions.

Even though ancient history and also the legends pass down the presence of several real, or presumed, ethnic groups in the Marche region, there is actually no doubt to the fact that the Picenes represent the most important and biggest population to have settled in the land of the Marche as we know it today, since the first millennium before Christ.

(source: http://www.antiqui.it/piceni/origine.htm )