Photo via grapesandgrainsnyc.com
The first time I went to Italy, I expected to look at the landscape, the sky, feel the air and smell the earth and feel the clench of my roots in my heart, feel the place take hold of me from the inside out and suspend me in a romantically elevated state of historic euphoria.
We landed in Rome in late March of last year, and it was rainy and cold and I was six weeks pregnant and I was mostly irritated that our final destination of Bari required an additional flight after our first arduous one from New York.
In Bari, we waited for our luggage, picked up our rental car, drove an hour to our destination, and because we were in the south of Italy, got lost until context clues pointed us in the general direction of our quirky destination, an old convent converted into a bed and breakfast by a couple, British ex-patriots, whose passion for the slow, relaxed rhythm of life and the drive to invite others into their weighty worldly experiences via ancient global artifacts displayed essentially everywhere, compelled them to the very limits of the peninsula, the heel of the Boot, Adriatic on one side, Mediterranean on the other.
It was a beautiful place, but it wasn’t at all what I’d imagined. I wasn’t stunned to silence, brought to tears. It was a place that had to live and breathe like any other place does; its people have to work hard, the pace of life is slow. There are long stretches of poorly lit road, there are badly marked streets, there are quiet restaurants in palazzos with a few people milling around. It wasn’t peak tourism season, and I don’t imagine they see too many tourists down in the south like they do in Tuscany, Naples, or Rome. It was a lovely, quiet place.
The trip to southern Italy that cold, rainy April comes alive for me in retrospect. When my husband travels, I am left with our little one and free reign on an entire cellar full of the geekiest dream wines available, but what I find myself wanting, night after night, is something from southern Italy: the soft, red fruited Primitivo. The black fruited, big-bodied Negroamaro. Rich, fruity, minerally whites. Unctuous, fat rosatos. What they lack in prestige they make up for in charm. Read More →