Sunday, April 14, 2024

My Brilliant Italy

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante was made into a TV series. We’ve been watching it here on the island. I have been struck by how many places and themes hit home for me. In fact, I had a bit of an epiphany in its 3rd year. I don’t know how to accurately say it, but it was as if a confluence of memory and observation coupled with an ancestral energy. Like recognizing something I am at first seeing. Anyway, it really moved me to thinking about what it really means to be Italian and have Italian feelings. Especially in the wine world, where we witness all manner of people who position themselves (and their “branded selves”) as experts, capable of influential consequences beyond themselves.

It is a bit folly to watch it. Meanwhile, swimming in this genetic/memory/observational soup over that last 50 or so years, I realize I have a unique picture of the Italy that has been presented to me. 60 trips, most for a week, some for months, some for extended weeks. 21 trips to Verona and Vinitaly! Nothing longer than three months. In and out. No full immersion for a year or more. But still, the impression has been made. My brilliant Italy has left an indelible mark on my soul and on my chromosomes.

I say this right now, because when I observe people as they are visiting Italy, for work or for pleasure, they seem to relate to a version of Italy that becomes unique to their experience. And inexperienced travelers might tend to conclude that the Italy that they are encountering is the same Italy for all of us. And from what I can tell, talking to other travelers and residents (of Italy), it ain’t necessarily so. There are thousands of Italy’s. So, for someone to exclaim that they now know Italy, because they made the tour of Rome-Florence-Venice-Amalfi Coast, or they made it to the top of Mt. Etna, or any number of singular adventures that might seem to define for one what Italy is – it just isn’t. Or at least, it isn’t enough. It’s reminiscent of the story about the blind men and the elephant. Italy is bigger and more brilliant than any one person and their visions and theories of what it is in their mind.

And while I’m standing on top of the soap box, Italy isn’t just about food or wine or antiquities or architecture or art or music or romance or history. Italy is longer and wider than time and place. It is so much more than my little view of it. And yours too.

So, let that sink in and hopefully this little rant will compel you to rethink what Italy is in the larger scope of the universe of things. Yes, it is wonderful. Yes, it is romantic. Yes, the food and wine and art and music are incomparable. But know that there is a deeper, richer, more timeless Italy than anyone of us can imagine.

As Hamlet uttered, “There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

So, it is. 



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