On the feast of the Immaculate Conception, a village in Trentino transforms to celebrate its famous artisanal grappa. Santa Massenza di Vallelaghi, a village of around a hundred people, is considered the capital of artisanal grappa and comes alive with the Notte degli alambicchi accesi (Night of the Alembics Lit) from December 7 to 10.
The Notte degli alambicchi accesi is a historical reenactment that recreates the postwar period, when the village’s distilleries worked day and night. Grappa producers, in fact, paid a daily tax and kept factories up at night to amortize costs. And in between their tasks, the workers could finally enjoy some leisure: they went to neighboring distilleries and sat around the fire, eating and drinking together, surrounded by the elderly people’s stories. The cold winter nights were warmed by the coziness of sharing, lit by the fire of the stills and the tools used for distillation, while the women spun and the kids listened in wonder to the legends of the grownups.
Four days to discover Trentino and its artisanal grappa
There are now five distilleries left (Casimiro, Francesco, Giovanni Poli, Giulio & Mauro, and Maxentia) of the 13 that originally existed, which take center stage at the Immaculate Conception festivities. Every year, tourists from all over the world visit Santa Massenza, which is located in the Valle dei Laghi, about a quarter-hour drive from Trento.
For four days, visitors may immerse themselves in a traveling show that embraces both its past and future in the cradle of artisanal grappa. Participants wear headphones and follow an itinerary through the five distilleries to learn about scientific techniques and traditions while immersed in a Christmas atmosphere. The discovery of history and secrets follows a performance by the Koinè theatrical company, all paired with grappa tastings.
The program consists of two performances per day, with the exception of Sunday, December 10. There will be desserts and local specialties at each step, in addition to distillate sampling.