Wine, Passatella and knives.
No. Violence had nothing to do with it, it was the way it was in those days. A world with its own rules, hierarchies, honours to defend and fiery passions.
You could see them under the pergolas, chatting friendly, in shirt-sleeves, laughing thunderously, playing morra or tresette and drinking golden-yellow wine in liter or half-liter carafes that came and went. Lupin beans and pumpkin seeds, as salty as the sea, accompanied those Roman Sundays.
Then came the Passatella, once dusk arrived and the inn-keeper had cut the porchetta and drained the olives from their brine.
A perfidious game that determined who was a winner and who was a loser. The poor stooge having to suffer watching the cocky way the leader could drink while he couldn't! At the very least they'd go home tipsy and ready for another hard-week's grind. But if the wrong word flew here and there and got taken the wrong way, igniting an argument, in just a moment those jackets hanging casually over their shoulders would get wrapped round their arms, as shields, defending from long flashing knives that could easily turn red. Ancient times, no more violent than those of today. Stories of men of honour and of knives. Men of vanished inns, lost in times gone-by. A Rome that is no more.
Picture of an etching by Meo Pinelli.
I'm old enough now that the vineyards that I plant will outlive me by a long way. But I'm used to this thought, I've been aware of this now for at least a couple of decades.
Harder to accept is the fact that some bottles will have that same possibility. I can only hope in a faulty cork or the gratitude of those that will prefer to drink them. Who knows, maybe to my own, useless health.
But here a recollection comes to my assistance, of a great 'enotecaro', as we call them here in Rome. Those men that dedicate their work to selling wines and to spreading the verb of the the vine. Well, one day, as he put his hand on my shoulder - we often use physical contact here to express feelings - this man led me, a new and curious novice of the nectar, with fatherly care, whilst I interrogated him on the life span of various bottles, to one of the deepest corners of his cellar. 'Come', he said, 'this is where I keep my Eternal Wines. Special and inconsumable'. I was amazed to see, perfectly ordered, one after the other, hundreds of bottle…empty!
Each one bearing a date, with names, memories; we looked each other in the eye, in perfect complicity. I got it.
I continued to see him for years, though never, did we ever speak of it again. But now that he is no longer with us, I would so like to ask him; who was that Giulia, Barolo 1959, that I had glanced at and noticed while I saw his eye twinkle mischievously looking in the same place? Certainly, not just an empty bottle.
I'll go and toast to that with a tipple…. Eternity exists.
Buk and the right to be understood.
I've often been asked, well educated and ravenous journalists, now that I no longer have to struggle at the post office, but can pay for my own sweepstakes and drink with my own pen, whether my insensitivity, denoted by my passion for sex and the glass, are for real, or just for show.
Well, once and for all, beat generation or not, Miller or Keruac or whoever they were, my Spoon River is this! Why bother interrogating me whether it was or will be, if we could or shall…Come here honey, kiss me, put up with my long whiskers and appreciate my weaknesses, these are what make me unique, your keepsake, that, maybe one day, you will even mourn.
This is my sensitivity and freedom, to have dug through the mud finding a reason to live.
You lot, go on producing, burning, skinning each other alive, but leave me here, with my perpetual, convinced, apparent, insensitivity..come here Linda, uncork that white and pour it carefully, Old Buk won't betray you.
Today is Meditrinalia!
Meditrinalia, I'll drink to that!
This is a celebration dedicated to the making and tasting of old and new wine - “Novus-vetus vinum libo, novo-veteri vino morbo medeor” (“I drink new-old wine, I treat illness with this new-old wine”). The name Meditrinalia is based on this ancient formula, reported by writer Varrone, and the curative powers of wine. Little information about the Meditrinalia survived from early Roman religion, although the tradition itself did. It was known to be somehow connected toJupiter and to have been an important ceremony in early agricultural Rome. Meditrina was a Roman goddess who seems to have been a late Roman invention to account for the origin of Meditrinalia. The earliest account of associating the Meditrinalia with such a goddess was by 2nd century grammarian Sextus Pompeius Festus, on the basis of which she is asserted by modern sources to be the Roman goddess of health, longevity and wine, or also "healer" as some suggest.
The old man and his unfair battle against the ocean and the Big Marlin, the magic pages of Hemingway, may seem to have nothing in common with vines and wine, and yet, some approach the matter with the same spirit.
I have seen vineyards in May wave and lap like a stormy sea, then there, patiently, men and women work, by hand or with scissors, presses, barrels and fermenters; with this line, expectant, never satisfied, maybe contented enough with the wine that has been produced, but always waiting for that exceptional one, where the earth and the sun bring out the extraordinary, that particular one that leaves its mark in the glass, the special one, fit to hand down to the grandchildren.
Fishermen always solitary, because each and everyone keeps in his soul and in his heart, the one best thing that he could make or make happen, towards the perfect vintage, the eternal bottle, the unforgettable sip.
Then, alas, everyday life is made up of all else, of normalness, of fish, more or less plentiful, of luck or ill fate.
But that's the way it goes, like the old man defeated by the sea, it's the same for some constructors of wines…the quest for the impossible never comes to a head, and then both types of these humans fall into slumber, to dream of lions.
There is drunkenness, and then there is the culture of Wine.
Ok, I confess. I have often abused of alcohol to make my pen write more freely or to exorcise rotten thoughts: rum, whisky, preferably diluted with a drop of water. And then in the morning a cold beer would get me back on my feet, ready to make my life bearable: great 'piss companions' with whom my readings gained moments of historical incomprehensibility, depending on whether whoever listened was, or was not, likewise, a great drinker. I've brushed with a few splendid lady-drunks, where potted geraniums would fall off the shelf above the bed for the amount of alcoholic and sexual heat.
But not wine. No. That I drink in my moments with HER, the woman of my life. With her there are raging wars and peaces regained: We notch them up with bottles of perfumed Whites. Culture with her, I respect well. Tipsy? Maybe…but never drunk. In love…definitely.
a group of people, that have lived and experienced the wonderful atmosphere of Frascati for many years, and now wish to share it with you.