met Susanna Gualco while she was still alive and working. I made a note to someday visit Romano Levi as well. It never happened.
I don’t take easily to any grappa. Most are too harsh, no soul, just jet fuel piled into a full stomach. Lethal for all but the most iron-clad of stomachs. Gualco exposed me to the finesse of grappa.
One could tell he was suffering. His eyes showed the early pain of loss. I told him to countdown two years; pretend it was a long flight to the moon and back. In April of 2015 he would finally be clear of the suffering. He would laugh about it, looking back. His sad eyes wanted to believe me, but he was in the thick of it. He was burning up. But he diverted for a few moments to show us the shrine.
Did Romano Levi summon us to cheer up his young acolyte?
Several hours later as we were driving through Barbaresco, Fabrizio was sitting as a table with five friends. He was laughing, had a nice bottle of wine to share. We called out to him as we drove by; stopped to see him. His eyes weren’t as sad. The Nebbiolo helped. Not being alone did even more. Fabrizio was counting down the days. 709 days to go.
written and photographed by Alfonso Cevola limited rights reserved On the Wine Trail in Italy
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