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Nino's Salty Wines

It was the first phone call I placed. 'Nino', I said. 'I'm coming to Sicily'. 'Outstanding! 'The finocchietto in the garden is almost ready', he said. There was a long silence. 'Nino?', I asked. 'Are you there?' I heard him swallow. 'And I know where I can locate some excellent strawberries. I also have a friend that is a baker'. I've only known him...

Gaspare and The 'M' Word

  Meet Gaspare…. Philosopher… Bicycle- enthusiast. Ex-police officer. Drinks wine every day. Doesn’t know a damn thing about the stuff. I just had rounded a stunningly-beautiful corner when Gaspare saw me looking at my map. He threw one leg over to the side of his bicycle and rode up, stopping perfectly, something a show-off teenager would do. I was endeared immediately. What’s the best way to Trapani, I...

Crossing Over: The Straight of Messina

I'm on a ferry, crossing the straight of Messina, the body of water that separates Italy from Sicily. To many it's just a watery obstacle, something that a boat has to do to a train before they can continue on their way. To me right now though, it marks the end of Sicily and the beginning of Calabria and the...

Cirò: Southern Wine Unlike Southern Wine

At one point in my education I had five roommates, all from Calabria, all ear-nose-throat docs in training. Like most southerners that study away up north, they always returned to our student apartment with boxes and boxes of foods and wines from home. They brought loaves of gray-crumbed and black-crusted bread the size of car tires, which lasted for weeks....

Lipari: Pagan Pagentry

I’ve been on the island of Lipari for the last three days, resting up a bit, and passing Easter weekend in familiar surroundings. I rented a little room with a 4th-story terrace, and a kitchen, and I’ve been cooking again, with intermittent access (it’s the holy weekend) to markets and wine shops, many still peopled with the same folks I...

Trapani: Distilling A Sea

SSHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH SHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH SHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH SHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH Like a serious of long, sensual whispers, the brown and tan cattails that line the road outside of Trapani go on for hours, their sighing sounds seem to almost sizzle in the late afternoon as I near the old city, the shimmering salt pools perhaps one of the most welcoming sites I’ve ever seen. They seem imaginary, like some sales...

Sambuca di Sicilia: Grapes from the South, 'Cabbage' from the North

Feudo Arancio feels like a New World winery, a four-year-old, massive city-block of a building, modelled after a cloister, located on top of a beautiful hill in a part of Sicily that could be anywhere in the world. That’s assuming, of course, you’re in stunning, rolling wine country, the sleepy horizon broken only with olive, orange, lemon and Cyprus trees....