Sunday, January 24, 2016

Lucid dreaming from the streets of Italy

When I talk to many Italians they like to carp about how unfair life is in Italy. Long lines, lots of bureaucracy, low pay, traffic, corrupt political system, wrecked economy. And yes, there are those factors in Italian society.

How many of us make as much money as we’d like to? We’d all like to make a little more, to save for the future, to maybe help family members or a friend in need. And who of us likes traffic, long lines and unnecessary red tape? I’m sure we could poll folks from Germany, from France, Thailand, even New Zealand, Poland, Russia, Norway, New York and find something that they feel diminishes their quality of life.

I say this as if from a 30,000 foot perspective. But no, my plane hasn’t lifted off yet. I’m on the ground, looking straight ahead. Here is what I see.

Italy, on a Saturday night, or a Thursday or a Sunday lunch, your restaurants are open, and the tables are filled with people who are enjoying their life. You are among them, can’t you see? The problems you have, we all have in one form or another. America isn’t the answer to everything. The answer lies within. How is it that you take on the day and deal with the details of your life is in your control.

The good news is that you have great materia prima. I can’t wait to get back to Verona to get the magical throat spray that the pharmacist has made up special for the opera singers. If I ever get the time, this time, I want to buy shoes, made in Italy, because to find something like those in America one has to look hard and often. I crave a well-made plate of pasta, one which I know I will probably have in the next week. And I know when I eat too much pasta or bread or prosciutto and my system says, “Enough!” there will be a bowl of spinach with fabulous olive oil and a little salt to settle the conflict in the lower tract.

I’m saying this because we all struggle with something in life. Will I make it unscathed to retirement age? Or will I be corporate jetsam? Will my health follow my mother, who at 101 (and ½) is still hanging in there? Or will I inherit the fate of my father, who at 69, left us too soon?

A friend of mine from the 1980’s, Cosmo. Everyone loved him. You’d be around him and you would have a good time, laugh, and stay up all might playing cards and drinking wine. I found out he’d died back in October. He was in his early 60's. I remember him telling me about his father, wanting to avoid his fate, an early and untimely death. And now he’s gone, leaving a gulf in the lives of those he left behind. It happens to all of us, all of the time. It’s a fact of life. We are here for a moment. Make it count.

So, let’s not worry too much if the 2011 vintage of Brunello isn’t as good as the 2010. It will be fine. We will drink it, it will all get sold somehow, and then we will worry about 2012, or 2013 and so on. Same goes with the 2012 Amarone. Later this week some of us will be in Verona for the Anteprima. And there will be all manner of discussions about the vintage. Which I welcome. But in the end, what can we do about it? We analyze, we swirl, taste and spit, sometimes we finish off the bottles at a fancy dinner in an ancient palace. How bad can it be? The reality is, it’s all pretty damn good. It is all in how we look at things.

Some say it's architectural ornamentation, some say it’s graffiti. Who knows really? It just is.

And so, my dear Italian (and German and French and Polish and Russian and Swedish Norwegian and American) friends, let’s take a deep breath and really look at what it is that has been presented to us. Isn’t it wonderful?

written and photographed (in Rome and Lecce) by Alfonso Cevola limited rights reserved On the Wine Trail in Italy
wine blog +  Italian wine blog + Italy W
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