In the Vineyard
I’m on an organic farm and vineyard in the town of Bosco. Not sure if ‘town’ is really the word to use. Bosco is more of a cluster of homes and shops. If you blink, you’ll miss it. Bosco is just next to Scandiano, which is just outside of Reggio-Emilia. You can find Reggio-Emilia between Parma and Bologna. But closer to Bologna.
Reggio – Emilia is in the region of Emilia – Romagna. I can give you the longitude and latitude, too, but maybe the best way to describe this specific part of Italy is that this is where prosciutto and Parmigiano-Reggiano come from. Aha. Now you know what I am talking about.
It’s the grape harvest and that is what my daily work consists of: 7 hours a day out in the vineyard harvesting the grapes. But not by myself. I’m with two other volunteers (from Alaska), Maurizio (the owner and the husband of the previously mentioned Anna), Enzo and Mario (Maurizio’s mom and dad), and three Italian guys hired to help with the all the work – Fidel, Christian and Andreas. Fidel speaks bang-on English which is great for the Alaskans and me as we need some help communicating with everyone else in the group.
The grape we’re harvesting is lambrusco. It’s for a local red wine that can be either ferme (still) or frizzanate (with bubbles!). If it’s frizzante, the wine gets chilled a bit before serving. I love it and I am already trying to figure out how much of it I can drink before I leave and where can I buy it when I get home.
Ok – back to work. The work can be a bit mundane, snip, pull, drop grapes in bucket. Keep going until the bucket is full then toss the bucket of grapes into the open trailer. Repeat. Whatever is tickling your arm or neck is usually not a spider or some other bug so try and relax. With the work being a bit tedious, conversation is always in high gear. Everyone is chatting all the time. Or breaking into random song. John Denver’s “Take Me Home Country Road’ was a surprise hit with everyone the other day. The conversation can turn political and get very heated. I know it’s getting political because Berlusconi is every other word. Berlusconi…… Berlusconi……… Berlusconi. Italian starts flying around at lightening speed. My Italian is meager so I don’t really understand what all the Italians are talking about but I do understand that most of them aren’t happy with Berlusconi since they almost spit out his name when saying it.
As the minutes count down to noon when lunch is served, the temper of the conversation relaxes and Berlusconi’s name disappears from the chatter. Even with my meager Italian, I am now able to understand the Italian conversation around me. And then I make the connection that the lunch break is oh so near and that everyone is talking about what they would like to eat. The talk has turned to food: tagliatele, capaletti, brodo, tortelli, prosciutto, melone, mozzarella, salsicchia, carne di miale, etc. Every other word is a pasta, a cheese, or some other Italian specialty. When it comes to food, I know a lot more Italian than my Beginner Italian night class ever taught me. Buon Appetito!