Breakfast in Burgundy, Lunch in Liguria: the Last Summer?
I have the feeling that an impending doom is approaching. Whether it is economic collapse (Jeff Thomas has called this period of the economy the Twilight Zone, after the old TV show), the current phase of the cultural revolution, the sordid election, potential wars (even a civil war) or the pandemic, they all leave me queasy. Perhaps the most telling danger in my mind is the new post-human world the elite have planned for us as explained by James Corbett. “The #ExposeBillGates movement is deadly serious, and it aims to alert the public to the real dangers of the world that are coming into view: a world of lockdowns and quarantines, masks and vaccines, checkpoints and immunity passports, cashless payments and biometric IDs.”
In his memoir, The World of Yesterday: Memoirs of a European, Stephen Zweig has written evocatively and elegantly of the summer before the impending doom of the Great War in Europe. “Even without the disaster it brought down on the whole of Europe, that summer of 1914 would have been unforgettable. I have seldom known a summer more luscious, more beautiful, I am tempted to say more summery. The sky was a silken blue day after day, the air was soft and sultry, the meadows warm and fragrant, the woods dark and lush with young green growth. Even today, when I say the word ‘summer’, I instinctively think of the glorious July days that I spent in Baden near Vienna that year……It was a beautiful summer, and promised to get even better; we all felt carefree as we looked out at the world. I remember how a friend and I were walking through the vineyards on my last day in Baden, and an old workman there told us, “We’ve not had a summer like this many a long year. We’ll have a great vintage if the weather holds. Ah, folks will remember this summer for a long while to come!””
I have the sense that our summer of 2020 has the mood of that summer in 1914. And like the summer of 1914 for Zweig, it is incumbent on us to still enjoy life. Back in 1990 I met and became friends with a regular writer for The Spectator. Besides my friend’s column, I enjoyed Taki’s High Life and Jeffery Bernard’s Low Life (now written by Jeremy Clarke) column. From the Wikipedia description of Bernard, “He was given a column in The Spectator in 1975. His column, entitled “Low Life” was contrasted with the “High Life” column by wealthy socialite Taki Theodoracopulos, writing as “Taki”. While Taki’s column described a life of yachts, casinos, and grand hotels, Bernard’s was described by Jonathan Meades as a “suicide note in weekly instalments” and principally chronicled his daily round of intoxication and dissipation in the Coach and Horses public house and its fateful consequences. This was mixed with anecdotes, many of which were repeated in the play Jeffrey Bernard Is Unwell, and ponderings on life. His lifestyle had an inevitable effect on his health and reliability, and the magazine often had to post the notice “Jeffrey Bernard is unwell” in place of his column.” For most of us it is important to have gratitude for our good life. For me this includes having a house in the countryside in the south of Burgundy and being able to take vacations with my family. Though traveling with a 12-year-old adolescent can be a challenge as this is a good life, not a perfect one. This year we made a sojourn into Italy to visit the Cinque Terre UNESCO World Heritage Site, on our mission to deliver our daughter for a week with her friend on the Côte d’Azur of France. We headed south from Burgundy near Macon on the Autoroute A6, then East at Lyon to the Frejus Tunnel to enter Italy. My title is misleading in that on this trip our lunch was in Piedmont just south of Turin, not Liguria on the coast; in the picturesque village of Neive in the wine country of Italy.
Our route on the first day.
Italy and the Cinque Terre from this site.
The view from the terrace of the restaurant in Nieve.
We spent the night in Piedmont, in the countryside near the agricultural town of Caneli in the Agiturismo Rupestr. My wife made all of the arrangements for the trip so I had no anticipation for the wonderful experience we would enjoy. The Agiturismo was founded and is run by Giorgio Cirio, a man who loves the people, the land, and what they produce together; what he calls the Six Bigs of white truffles, hazelnuts (for cakes and candies) wine (e.g., Barolo and Barbaresco), fruits and vegetables, meat (beef and game), and cheese (a goat’s milk cheese called Robiola di Roccaverano). And his mission in life is to share these wonderful things with the world as is explained in the whimsical memoir he wrote and sent to me. The ambiance was m
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