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Underneath the Arches

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17 LOVE LANE, LIVERPOOL

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“Underneath the arches - we dream our dreams away…”

the story of how an empty railway arch in Liverpool became a secret wine bar, private dining room and experimental performance space

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It all began with the desire for a nice glass of Italian wine, not the kind you get in British supermarkets but the proper kind, made from handpicked grapes and bottled at the winery. So we began importing wine from the Italian region of Emilia Romagna, the land of fast cars and slow food, of Federico Fellini, Giuseppe Verdi, Pavarotti, Ferrari and Lamborghini. We were on a mission to introduce real Lambrusco to the UK, a dry, crimson, fruity, slightly-sparkling wine quite unlike any other, that dates back centuries and is synonymous with convivialità and allegria.

We were looking for a suitable space to store our wine and when we found this empty railway arch in Liverpool with its endearing address, I couldn’t resist it. Because it was about more than wine, it was about conviviality, about what Italians call “la tavola”. In Italian the word for table in the sense of an item of furniture, is tavolo, a masculine noun. Instead tavola, feminine, means the table in the sense of where meals are eaten, The Italian dining table is a place of warmth and passion, for animated discussion; eating together creates a sense of belonging and community. With Love Lane Wines we wanted to do more than just sell a product, we wanted to share an approach to living and convey the skill and passion that Italians put into everything they make and do.

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Our first pop-up bar…

was created with just a pallet of wine brought directly from an Italian vineyard near Parma, some secondhand tables and chairs, a vintage workbench for a bar, a cabinet from a previous installation and a homemade illuminated sign. It became a secret space to enjoy a genuine taste of Italy in unpretentious surroundings.

Once a week, we served up traditional Italian home-cooked food in what felt like a pretend restaurant. There would be only one dish on the menu, something simple put prepared with patience, love and care. Fresh tagliatelle, risotto, gnocchi, polenta.

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The decor was created entirely from secondhand furniture, found objects and artworks, I wanted to experiment with a different approach to designing, to ignore conventions, go back to basics and build around the simplicity of gathering around the table to enjoy good food and drink and above all, good company. It grew organically through a mixture of pragmatism and playfulness, with the tavola at the heart; improvised out of unexpected findings.

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The programme was also improvised: film, theatre, performance, workshops. We have collaborated with artists, musicians, chefs and performers to create all kinds of events.

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