The Italian Almanac

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whale fossil

A Whale in the Vineyard

The biggest whale fossil ever found in Italy has emerged from one of the country's finest vineyards. The five-million-year-old skeleton turned up on the property of Castello Banfi, makers of the famed Tuscan wine Brunello di Montalcino.

Millions of years ago the whole of Tuscany was under water and today's ground was the sea bed. Experts said they are "pretty sure" they will be able to recover the whole skeleton. "It's in an excellent state of preservation," said paleontologist Simone Casati, who was called in when vineyard workers saw unusual bones in the ground.

Vineyard owner Cristina Mariani was also delighted with the find. "This discovery reminds us, once again, that much of our soil is composed of minerals and nutrients deposited over millions of years," she said. "This is special earth. It gives complexity to our wines".