It is hard to explain why the Bele Casel website drew my attention since the very first time I saw it.
Was it because their story began “more than 40 years ago”, just like mine would, if there were one?
Or was it perhaps because of the photo, depicting three generations and with Luca towering in the middle appearing determined to keep the past, the present and the future together at any cost?
Was it possibly because of that “great farmer”, Grandpà Ilario, who cannot be in the picture, but whose spirit seems to pervade and guide the words and deeds of the “county” to this day?
I also immediately loved that name, “county”, with a lower case “c”, a name with implied nobility. Not inherited, but to be achieved and then maintained and emblazoned with work, ethics and the consistent quest for improvement.
More simply, perhaps, my virtual encounter with Bele Casel was an unpredictable, yet in some ways, unavoidable coincidence.
Unavoidable because after having reached, and gone well past, retirement age, now I can finally afford the luxury of allowing nostalgia for Italy to embrace me; for years I felt compelled not to let this distraction affect my life.
Notwithstanding the amount of time and vicissitudes, but perhaps also because the ghost of Alzheimer seems to be lurking around the corner, my affection and homesickness for the native land, its culture, its cuisine, wines and traditions seem to be flowing, rather than ebbing, with the passing of each year.
Together with my nostalgia and despite the many problems and afflictions of our Bel Paese, I have a renewed consciousness and confidence of how much Italy, and particularly certain Italians, have to offer to the world. And to themselves.
And, although initially I had no concrete proof to substantiate my instinctive attraction, I felt that to me the Ferraro family is a prototype of the best that Italy can give to the world.
I am referring mostly to the artisans, the farmers and the wine growers for whom I have always had so much respect as to border veneration.
My most vivid and beloved memories of youth are those collected on the workbenches, amid the clods, in the fields, in the stablehand the yards of Lower Brianza, on the hills and vignards of Veneto and Val Trebbia. They are populated by god folks; honest, wise, smart and, above all, hard working people armed with will of steel.
These were the people who, despite the fact that I was a short, scrawny “city kid”, accepted me as one of their own as soon as I had rolled up my sleeves, donned a pair of clogs and started to work; not only was I an apprentice or a pupil, I would participate in their life, shared their tasty meals of simple, fresh food and partake in their abundant libations around the fireplace at night….(”Don’t put too much water in the kid’s glass, he worked hard today!”)
Today, nearly sixty years later and four thousand miles away, thanks to the miracles of electronics and cybernetics, i find myself walking (virtually, of course) in the same fields or along the same vineyards loaded with clusters of grapes whispering to you: “Not yet…let me bask in the sun one more day…”
Without your knowledge, I visit vineyard or walk through your stables like a ghostly voyeur, in the sweet pre-dawn hours, sensually filled with promises of a new day. Or in the middle of the day, when the hot sun shines, I’ll join you under the shade of a bower or in a cool cellar. Or in the velvety dusk, redolent of the sweat cooling off under your armpits, l savor with you the prize for a good day of work. Or on a sleepless night, I’ll come and keep company to the spider, weaving its web under the lintel lit by a moonbeam in the stable…
I visit you via your websites, your blogs, your advertisements, your comments, your passionate debates … and I f
eel at home again; my appetite and my senses reawaken … I can smell the earth … and then …
…and then, even if only for a few fleeing minutes, I feel rejuvenated and for a short while I can dream of still being able to learn something new.
It is a wonderful feeling. Certainly worth of celebrating and what better way than opening a nice, cool bottle of Prosecco Millesimato.
… or, who knows? maybe Mr. Danilo may even give his blessings to one of those mythical bottles “sur lie”?