Friday is the quintessential Italian holiday, Ferragosto. What is Ferragosto you might ask, well according to Wikipedia:
“The Catholic Church celebrates this date as a Holy Day of Obligation to commemorate the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary—the actual physical elevation of her sinless soul and incorruptible body into Heaven. Before the Roman Catholic Church came into existence, however, this holiday also included honoring of gods—in particular Diana—and the cycle of fertility and ripening, during the time of the Roman Empire.”
Ferragosto for me is much simpler and has always represented the beach, good food and good friends. Usually I am on my way to Cape Cod this week but this year I’ve got other big plans. Very excited about these plans but I do always love the Cape….
Lucky for me, New York unlike Italy, decidedly does not shut down for the holiday. My first summer living in Milan, the entire city was shut down for August but I worked at a financial newswire which never closed its doors. Those were the days when Italy’s Central Bank still mattered and as always, most financial crises began in August. At times, being in the office was almost a relief from the hot, empty streets of the city. When I did have to venture out, I looked forward to the one light on the street, a bar called Le Trottoir. I lived in the Corso Garibaldi area and Le Trottoir was the only game in town.
It has since changed its location and style but at the time, it was the closest thing to a hippy bar that I could find in my chic Milanese neighborhood and it was refreshing. They served popcorn, bad wine and had loud music every night until dawn. When everyone’s tapparelle or sun blinds were down, it was a pleasure to slip into that bar and order whatever they had on the menu, generally a bland Barbera/Croatina from the Oltrepo’ Pavese, an area near the city of Pavia. These wines used to be on every Milanese restaurant and Trattoria menu.
They were not particularly refined wines but went well with some of the local fare. Wines from the Oltrepo’ aren’t that popular in the US but they do make some good Pinot Nero.
This week’s wine of the week hails from Oltrepo’ from Conte Vistarino, their Sangue di Giuda. This wine is made from a blend of Croatina and Barbera.
This semi-sweet sparkler has low alcohol and is a fruity summer wine. I can see drinking some of this and eating a sandwich staring out at the sea on the Cape. It would be a great combination.
Buon giorno, Susannah:
A lovely column about early years in Milan and your insights into Italian living. I’m sure Le Trottoir was a lively scene in spite of the bad wine. Have you previously written about Sangue di Giuda? It’s really an interesting wine, even for those who don’t prefer a sweet red.. I wish you a joyful Ferragosto and best wishes with your “other big plans.”
Thanks for stopping by and commenting here at Avvinare. Sangue di Giuda is an interesting wine. I actually think I have never written about it here on this blog. I’m curious if you find it in stores or on restaurant lists in Colorado.
Thanks for the good wishes on my other project :).