Twelve years later, that hell is not as acute, but the days are not without their challenges. Still we are enduring triple digit temperatures. There are challenges in my family orbit regarding health issues, and my dear Italians are giving us a break for the time. It is after all, the beginning of August. So for the next month, we are unencumbered, free as a bird. As long as we don’t fly too close to the sun.
In a moment of diversion, I came upon a lovely photo project, “Into the Silence”, by the Sicilian, Carlo Bevilacqua. In some of the more remote corners of the world, and especially Italy, Bevilacqua has lived and photographed folks who choose to live a simpler life of solitude.
Pantelleria, Muscat of Alexandria takes the name Zibibbo and shuns any earthly comfort. Pummeled by intense sun and constant wind from Africa, little bushes stay low to the ground and in their meditation they grow slow and restrained. And after they give up their fruit, while most people are returning to their jobs and their homes from their August holiday, these clusters are splayed on the ground to be subjected to more heat and dehydration. Only to reincarnate as a passito of extraordinary singularity.
in Calabria, grapes that have trekked millennia from ancient cultures found a place in the hills. There, as in Bevilacqua’s essay, people work in solitude, growing, tending, laboring, harvesting and living until they have no more breath. And alongside the ancient grapes toil and fall and emerge year after year. Lonely, solitary, blissful.
some of the most solemn wine I have ever had.
count the bees as your friend. The Rossese and other indigenous grapes leave their enological profiles behind, much in the way a monk leaves his family and his identity. What Yaqui shamans call total freedom.
Inferno vineyard I once spotted the perfect hermit encampment. Either that, or a place for a young man to take his sweetheart and make love under the Chiavennasca vines in the cool caress of an autumn harvest breeze.
Assisi’s most famous hermit and Canaiolo, Uva Canina, who would miss this grape? It is destined for the contemplative life. And Umbria, for the living and the dead, is a soulful urn for all who seek the quiet and the peace of the green heart. It is where I took the ashes of my wife, after she passed through our last summer of hell together.
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