In Italy we see it with the last vestiges of the reign of Berlusconi, a man so narcissistic that he would rather have the government founder than to exit gracefully and let sounder minds attend to the affairs of state. The curtain is falling on him, but there are plenty of other like-minded sociopaths for whom the final act is still many pages away.
Years ago, I started to read about the decline of civility in our times. And during the past 20 years, I have witnessed an acceleration of this. Yes, there are still good people around. But they are either not as visible or vocal, or have they been silenced by other forces?
Tradition. Family. God. You hear it all the time, from all kinds of people. But ask those same people to give (or give up) something that they find too dear, and will there be a quick retreat back to the safety of their home, their channel, their God? God isn’t dead. Dialogue is. And even among families, dissension has never been more widespread.
The temptation to trim, maybe buy some grapes from outside the appellation, is still strong. Witness the recent revelation in the Veneto which is unfolding in real time. How does one get to be a Dal Forno or a Quintarelli? Two ways: work hard and do your best or formulate a wine to collect high scores, accolades and prices. The easy way is always the quickest way, but always through a chasm.
Who tends the flame at Tenuta Il Greppo during these cold days in Tuscany?
In Piedmont, Bruno Giacosa may have just finished his last harvest. Who is standing by to fan the flames that made those wines so full of life and hope? Or will we just read someday, after he passes on, that the estate was sold to a wealthy oligarch?
Italy and America, this is a crucial time for all of us. There are those who want it all for themselves. And then there are the rest of us, who just want us all to get along. But we all need oxygen for our fires, and even more essential, the dignity for a simple life lived in a world of people connected by the invisible thread of promise.
written and photographed by Alfonso Cevola limited rights reserved On the Wine Trail in Italy
B&W images courtesy of RAI3
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