I have had many great strokes of luck in my life, and one of these has been an Italian flatmate. She’s glamorous, she has very (very) big hair and when she gets angry, she spouts silky diatribes of Romance lingo that make her a wonder to listen to.
She also talks of home and a farm in Calabria which, never having really been to Italy (I was too young to remember when I went) I find difficult to imagine. I think of it as a version of Provence only hotter, but she insists it’s different to anything else – not least because the widows in Calabria still wear black until the day they die. She’s very proud of the fact that she’s not a city girl.
One of the things I have yet to do but is very much on my ‘Bucket List’ is a vendange tardive (late harvest). This is the hand picking of grapes at the end of summer for dessert wines, because allowing the grapes start dehytrating concentrates the sugars and changes the flavours within. My father did it when he was a student and he tells me that the work is back-breaking but the people he met were a whole new level of intellectual. It sounds idyllic to me.
I haven’t seen this film (Days of Harvest/I giorni della vendemmia) yet, but the advert is a perfect mixture of both the vendange and Italy in general – I’m going to watch it with my two Italian friends.