Ovada, Italy: Hometown of St. Paul of the Cross and the Dolcetto Grape

Founder of the Passionists Order of Priests

St. Paul of the Cross was born in 1694 as Paolo Francesco Danei, in northwestern Italy in the town of Ovada. Influenced by St. Francis de Sales, and the direction he received from the priests of the Capuchin Order, it became his lifelong conviction that God is most easily found in Christ’s Passion.

At the age of 21 Paul left his work helping his father to join a crusade against the Turks who were threatening the Venetian Republic, but then he soon realized that the life of a soldier was not his calling. At the age of 26 he had several powerful prayer experiences, and felt the call from God to become a priest.  He was ordained in Rome and received approval to begin the Passionists Order of Priests in 1720 at the ripe old age of 26. He held his first Passionist retreat in Monte Argentario, a peninsula belonging to the Province of Grosetto in the Italian region of Tuscany. He died in 1775 and was canonized a saint on June 29, 1867 by Pope Pius the IX and is buried in the Basilica of Saints John and Paul on the Caelian Hill in Rome.

Resource: SaintPauloftheCross.com


Ovada’s Dolcetto Grapes

Ovada is located in the northwestern part of Italy in the Piedmont region, about an hour drive northwest of Genoa, and is only a 90-minute travel time from both Milan and Turin. It is most famous for its Dolcetto di Ovada Superiore wine made entirely from Dolcetto grapes grown in Ovada. Dolcetto is a dark-skinned wine grape grown in the Monferrato hills. It makes a medium-bodied wine, which shows moderate tannins and acidity, and has a smooth aftertaste with a slight bitter almond finish. It is most often paired with hearty pasta dishes.

This Dolcetto has the highest classification of Italian wines, known as the “Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita,” which is often abbreviated on Italian wine labels as DOCG. According to regulations the Dolcetto vines must be grown on soils consisting of tufa, clay, and limestone and must be situated at an altitude of 3290 feet above sea level.

Ovada certainly fits this bill. It has breathtaking views, as it sits at the foothills of the northern part of the Apennine Mountain Range. Imagine the beautiful Dolcetto vineyards with the backdrop of the Apennine Mountains!

If you are an avid wine-lover, this is a must-stop town in northern Italy.


Photos courtesy Wikimedia Commons.