The Carapace of Bevagna

December 5, 2012 / Food & Wine
Bevagna, Umbria
A giant futuristic tortoise is poised a grassy hills in Umbria near Bevagna. No one is filming a thriller out here among the vineyards – it is actually the first building designed by world famous Italian sculptor Arnaldo Pomodoro.

Known for his massive metal globes “Sphere Within Sphere” located at the UN in New York, the Vatican Museums, and the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Rome, the almost-ninety year old accepted a commission to create a winery that would be the showpiece of the winemaking Lunelli family, owners of Ferrari champagnes sparkling wines.

In Umbria, their Tenuta Castelbuono label produces the DOC Montefalco Rosso and DOCG Sagrantino di Montefalco in a setting like no other.

“I drew my inspiration from the tortoise, symbol of stability and longevity, whose carapace represents the union between earth and sky,” says Pomodoro.

The attention lavished by architectural publications on the building, which opened in the summer of 2012, brings a steady stream of visitors who end up tasting the wine and find it’s really quite good. The wow factor here is amazing, both inside and out, so it would have been a real shame if the wine hadn’t lived up to the setting.

Tours of the winery in English upon reservation.


Sharri Whiting

by Sharri Whiting

Sharri writes about food, wine and international travel from Umbria, where she and her husband grow olives. In addition to articles, she writes a blog,  UmbriaBella. Her app, Olive Oil IQ is a portable encyclopedia for foodies and culinary travelers (iTunes & Android). Follow her on Twitter: @umbriabella and @oliveoiliq. Facebook:, and

12 Responses to “The Carapace of Bevagna”

  1. Sharri, Incredible photos and great article. It’s almost like someone has tempted me with a fantastic glass of wine and then pulled it back from me. Do write more, I’d like some more wine please.

  2. I really enjoyed reading this Sharri!
    I’ve heard about Pomodoro’s wine cellar in Umbria before, as I’m a contemporary architecture lover. And what could be better than the combination of wine & architecture!
    Apart of Umbria, Southern Tuscany is another good area in Italy to explore these modern day wine cathedrals. I’ve just wrote an article about my visit at the Petra winery designed by archistar Mario Botta ( Rocca di Frassinello (the winery designed by Renzo Piano) deserves a wordy article too.

  3. Gale in CT

    What amazing vision Arnaldo Pomodoro has! Like wine, his artistry only improved with age. Bravo to the Lunelli family for commissioning this masterpiece.

  4. Rome is not the only Eternal City! I visited Bevagna in 2010 with Anne Robichaud as our incomparable guide. We stepped deeply into its ancient roots and it was an astonishing feeling. It would be a little surreal to see the modern tortoise in the same trip!

  5. MarioMeggie

    Somehow the line crossing out the champagne was missed just before you mentioned DOC; shame on you! The French wine makers deserve as much respect as those Italian…but only if you appreciate wine!

  6. What a wonderful piece, thanks Sharri! A stunning piece of architecture, Arnaldo Pomodoro is a true visionary. We love Bevagna with it lovely centro and the old papermill. When we return to Italia this summer we will definitely return to see this amazing building and taste Tenuta Castelbuono’s beautiful wines.

  7. Gian Banchero

    Thank you for the article Sharri, in the mid 80s Signor Pomodoro was my sculpture teacher at Mill’s College in Oakland, California, he was one of the very few art teachers I had over the years that was able to instil a sense of magic into my art.

  8. Pat Carney-Ceccarelli

    Many thanks for this one Sharri, wonderful photographs and I like knowing about the symbol of the tortoise. Glad to see also comment by Katja- I live near Botta’s Petra winery and will now look up Katja’ piece on it. More nice conversations by and with INotebook enthusiasts!


Leave a Reply