At another event, in a grand palace, we are poured the producer’s Soave. In another room they pour their barrel aged Chardonnay. At the table they serve us a Merlot, the grapes dried Amarone style. We ask for some more Soave. It took quite the arm twisting to get them to pour us the simple little Soave. The other wines were designed for whom?
The next morning I made my way to Tuscany, and Badia a Coltibuono. Upon entering a fresco covered room, I sensed a familiar place. The room was filled with Italian wine shop owners and restaurateurs happily sipping and chatting. I’d been in this room before, but not in the last 100 years. The simple Sangiovese caused my eyes to well up. I moved to the window for this private moment. At least we haven’t lost the Tuscans.
But Tuscany is listening. I’m on the mend, the fires are contained and we go back to the work of getting the soil ready for the next turn.
In Tuscany, winter is gone. Bees are buzzing the rosemary, birds are playing out their dramas, the sun is shining. Time for a break from polenta and risotto; time for some carciofi, some wild fennel, maybe to start a new fire in the pit, and do some cooking.
Yes, Italy isn’t always la grande bellezza. On the roads and in the vineyards there are a lot of breakdowns. But there are also the simple moments. The pure souls, they are still here. I drive in their direction, slowly, but with purpose.
Italy, after coming here for over 40 years now, I still don’t know you. What I do know, though, is there is a link that keeps me coming back, looking for those parts of Italy that ring the big bell deep inside, in the hope of an ever greater awakening.
written and photographed by Alfonso Cevola limited rights reserved On the Wine Trail in Italy
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