Visiting the state of the art wine production facility and some of the vineyards was a fantastic experience, even though things were relatively quiet as the harvest was complete. I love vineyards mainly because I love soil, and the earth here was the best kind: wet, cold, thick, almost muddy, and dark – firm and teeming with life.
I am always keen to look at the soil and see if anything else grows or is growing nearby. The road down to the vineyard was flanked the beautiful and gummy rotting persimmons and by massive olive trees.
Across the street was the elegant chateau like Via Gemma which some of wines of Masciarelli are named after – alongside Via Gemma are some experimental plots where international varieties have been planted.
In my head as we were driving, It was almost as if I was hearing McCoy Tyner playing the piano on My Favorite Things – which for me is the seminal soundtrack to autumn and wintertime jaunts through mystical wonderlands.
We sped along in our tiny Italian car, only stopped by my insistence on taking pictures and breathtaking views of the Abruzzese countryside.
Though it was chilly in Abruzzo, I wasn’t quite aware that just above us in the nearby province of Pescara ( apparently the Port of Pescara is one of the most important and touristy parts of the Adriatic Sea) was a vibrant ski slope.
We drove up a long winding road to find the ski lift in full swing. I couldn’t help but notice how Italians are just effortlessly cool. Standing around in tight speedo like ski shorts smoking cigarettes. Wearing my Vibram Toe shoes, I wasn’t equipped to do anything but fling my body down small hills in idiotic glee at the overwhelming natural beauty.
After a tremendous meal in a cave we headed back to Castello di Semivicoli for some downtime – which for me meant passing out in the incredibly comfortable accommodations.
Wanting to at least keep my metabolism functioning under the onslaught of delicious food and wine I attempted some pushups on the creaking ancient wood floors. I managed to snap a few pictures of the castle before descending into a brief slumber.
I was awoken as I could smell the aroma coming from the kitchen beneath my quarters, the warmth providing a pleasant beginning to the evening. Down a flight of stairs I found a warm selection of cakes, sweet breads, chocolates, and several different kind of honey – all made locally to be paired with the full selection of Masciarelli red wines.
A notable one for me was the 2004 Masciarelli Iskra Rosso, (Slovenian for Spark) which carries the Colli Apruntini IGT covering the hills of Abruzzo’s Teramo province. I found the Iskra had a profound instance of minerality unblemished by generous oak and age, not unlike something from Mt. Etna and Campania.
Making wine in Abruzzo is a very old practice, mentioned beginning with Polybius, a Greek historian who lived between 205 and 123 BC. Polybius commends the quality of wines from Piceno-Aprutina, an area today would roughly be modern-day Teramo, slightly to the north of where we stayed.
We were treated to a beautiful castle-cooked meal for dinner featuring cheese and charcuterie as well as some lovely local dishes.
Polybius often wrote in his treatise on the rise of Rome as a world power (The Histories) about something called Tyche, meaning fate or fortune. Tyche was also personified as a deity, with each Hellenistic city creating their own version of her. Tyche was used as explanation when no other reason could be attributed as to why a fortuitous instance, calamity or political event occurred.
Reading about this I couldn’t help but feel like my time spent in Abruzzo was a great example of Tyche. I kept remarking that I expected Abruzzo to look like the opening scene in The Godfather II (the funeral procession where Vito Andolini’s older brother is killed, which is actually in Sicily..) yet what I found looked more like what I imagine Switzerland to look like. Regardless, this trip was one that I won’t soon forget. Mille Grazie!