“Umbria needs to emerge in the secular field too”
by Agnese Priorelli
“I experienced the countryside from an arcadian point of view in the first part of my life; with a wish for innovation and above all, under a cultural outlook in the second one».
Maria Grazia Marchetti Lungarotti is a cultured woman: as it is easily understood, talking to her. She is courteous and kind as a woman of other times. Her passion for art and archeology, for wine and olive oil, and the rigor in her studies are the cornerstones of her life. A life also based on discipline: “I have never left much time for amusement and I have never been a “Latin mother.” I have always demanded a lot from my children and this has borne fruit “. In 2011 she was awarded the highest honor conferred by the President of the Italian Republic: Knight of the Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic.
In 1987 with his second husband, Giorgio Lungarotti (they had already created the Wine Museum in 1974) opened the Lungarotti Onlus Foundation, of which she is the director, to promote and enhance the culture of wine. Among the activities of the Foundation, today, there is the management of the two museum complexes: the Museum of Wine and the Olive and Olive Oil Museum, dedicated to wine as well as to olive oil. They are private museums which host precious art collections and are visited by tourists from all over the world.
How did you come up with the idea of opening the Wine Museum and later the Olive Oil Museum?
I joined the Umbrian culture and its typical products, a combination that belonged to me. I am an art historian and an archivist: from my interests in the cultural field came the idea of combining high quality production – which was started by my husband, an enlightened entrepreneur, first in Umbria to do that – with a rigorous and complex opening on the historical and artistic aspects related to wine: we speak about Umbria, but above all, about the Mediterranean area. The second museum, the MOO, was opened in 2000, when my husband had already disappeared, and it responded to the same needs to get out of a merely agricultural-productive perspective. In both of them, you can take a real journey through time to discover origins, mythology, imaginary, and other many aspects of the two products.
The New York Times in a review, called The Wine Museum: “The best in Italy”. It was a great satisfaction…
Not only in Italy, but in Europe. It is an unusual reality that proposes a 5,000 year journey through art collections including cups, jugs, amphorae, pottery, medieval, Renaissance and baroque ceramics up to contemporary ones, ancient engravings, as well as ethnographic collections. Both are family-friendly museums, also thanks to the cognitive paths dedicated to children.
For the town of Torgiano they are really meaningful.
Definitely. my husband and me wanted to promote an area of Umbria, very beautiful in terms of landscape, but little known despite the proximity to Perugia and Assisi. The realization of the two museums was very demanding, but today the result is a specialized complex that gives voice not only to the territory, but, to the Italy of wine. This project underlines the tourist potential of our land.
Mrs. Lungarotti what is your bond with Umbria?
I am umbrian and not etruscan – she smiles – a naturalized “Perugina” from Gubbio. With this region I have a very strong bond, which is conneted to the land itself, to culture and to wine. They are the reasons why I have taken this path and I have achieved these results.
How do you see the Umbrian and the Perugia reality, in a social and in artistic point of view?
I can see interesting effects and a real interest in art, music and culture. Umbria is a fascinating land, unfortunately back compared to other regions, Tuscany for example. We have a beautiful and compelling history, under many aspects. There are some periods of our history which deserve to be discovered such as Umbria during the phase of the Municipalities. In these days an exhibition dedicated to this historical period is taking place in Gubbio: “One day in the Middle Ages. Daily life in the Italian cities of the eleventh-fifteenth centuries”. We contributed through a substantial loan of art works by MUVIT to this event.
Is there a project by the Lungarotti Foundation that you particularly care about?
We have so many exhibitions and conferences. An idea I would like to realize is giving more expository space to the Etruscan period.
The first thing that comes to your mind thinking of this region…
Assisi and San Francesco that have made it famous, but Umbria must be more valued even in the historical and artistic fields. This suggests major attention to the means of transport system, considering the difficulty in reaching it.