Martin IV was a French Pope that was crowned in Orvieto and chose Montefiascone as his residence, a town 80 km North of Rome . At that time Popes were not living in Rome because the eternal city was stormed by conflicts between factions and nobody was safe.
Medieval writer Jacopo della Lana describes Martin IV : ” He had very vicious throat…he brought out eels from nearby waters pf Lake Bolsena and made them drown and die in Vernaccia wine … ” .
Dante Alighieri, the famous Florentine poet, also mentions in his Divine Comedy Martin IV love for eels soaked in vernaccia Wine.
But why, even though there were many glutton popes , Martin IV became probably the most famous ? Maybe because in the Middle Ages eel represented a prohibited delicacy, symilar to snake, symbol of original sin and the unbridled preference of such food in a Pope became an occasion of scandal .
Martin IV died in Perugia in 1285 , and according to some historians, the cause was ” fatness and indigestion of tasty fish from Lake Bolsena cooked and washed down with Vernaccia :-)” .
For an ancient and strict ceremonial , his body would have been washed with warm Vernaccia flavored with secret and special herbs .