There are those who are born lucky and those that are born with red hair. The others are normal. I am not normal. I don’t have a villa in Malibu nor a penthouse in the Parioli district of Milan… I have red hair. At school I painfully endured literary references to Rosso Malpelo (Giovanni Verga) and Pel di Carota (Jules Renard), but what irritated me the most was the teasing and mockery inspired by that television personality whose name started with Pippi (what could be worse...).
But I had books. From Mompracem to Macondo, the road was long yet they counted as travelling companions, sometimes rather bulky to be honest, with surnames such as Borges, Mann, Hesse, Conrad, Proust, Calvino… I devoured entire libraries and not only the extremely well furbished one in my home. Although I was allowed to read in peace, I still hid in the furthest wardrobes, armed with a torch.
By pure imitation, I learned to talk to myself from Alice, the one in Wonderland. Everyone’s own I is unique by definition, but it never ceases to be surprising and becomes increasingly demanding. It is a constant challenge to communicate on a daily basis.
Books knew how to populate my world of friends, they gave me adventures, they fed my imagination and perhaps, in those pages, with that characteristic smell that maybe only I could discern, and which certainly, only I appreciated, was where the seed of my greatest passion lay: writing.
Writing to spread the word, to transmit life, is beautiful. Novels have already been written, beauty and life are still there for those who look for them.
The concept of “familiarity” not only regards the heredity of character but also of the temperament, attitudes, experience and passions instilled within each of us.
My father: wine.
My father was a craftsman with agricultural origins. His glove factory in the hills of Valpolicella was my universe: rows of vines to make wine for us and friends, fruit trees on which to climb, walls for playing hide and seek… The vines, grapes, must, wine: smells and flavours that, from an extremely early age (therefore it is really “genetic”), attracted, fascinated and bewitched me. The winery: that miracle forge, where, without a philosopher’s stone, a fruit became an inebriating drink, a nectar that was irresistible to the touch, nose, palate, the elixir of life. A vocation.
My mother: food. She gave her very best in the kitchen while I stuck my nose and hands everywhere; helping meant learning.
Granddad, in his grocery store, had acquainted me with the most typical and genuine Italian products. Then, just to remain in the family, one of my cousins was the most famous producer of cured ham (San Daniele, Parma and Carpegna) with a seasoning workshop in Lonigo. Another cousin successfully managed a reputable trattoria in the Berici Hills and an uncle ran a pizzeria in Malcesine. And I learned from all of them. Wine and food: the first university was childhood.
As an adult, I felt the need to communicate, to navigate in that authentic wilderness of sentiment that the senses stimulated in me. I made it my profession: taste and tell.
Easy? No, difficult. Presenting a quantitative fact is never a problem, there are units and measuring tools. On the other hand, describing wine, its character, by definition unmeasurable and unquantifiable, and, what’s more, always susceptible to subjectivity,
cannot be assigned numbers. Words therefore become fundamental for expressing its soul.
I have travelled a lot, both for the pleasure of it and, above all, to learn, to give substance to my technical skills. I have measured myself against oenologists, agronomists and sommeliers from all over the world, I have studied at the AIS (Italian Sommelier Association), and at the WSET (Wine & Spirit Education Trust), I have attended courses at the University of Oenology in Bordeaux, I practice pruning with Simonit&Sirch. I have woven multiple exchanges with wine artisans who enchanted me with their unconventional expressiveness, their enthusiastic passion, their rough and clean naturalness.
In the world of wine, I have worked passionately for the guides. I was at Slow Wine for five years and at I vini d’Italia de L’Espresso for one, I am the only woman chosen as the co-author of texts in the fifteen years of the publication’s life. Since 2017, I have been the co-editor of the Guida Oro i Vini di Veronelli: to date I am the only female in Italy to cover this responsible role, as well as the first to have held the position in all the thirty years of this guide’s activity, which, I like to highlight, was the first of its kind published in Italy. With an insatiable appetite for fermented liquids, I have also studied at the University of Beer and I have begun to collaborate with the Guida alle Birre d’Italia (Italian Beer Guide).
In regard to food, I have wandered all over Italy with the odd episode in bordering countries. So many lonely hours in the car, in the snow, in the driving rain, in the densest fog and under a boiling sun to visit the great constellation of the remotest “star-awarded” restaurants. Here I will take the liberty of providing a few numbers: along the entire Boot of Italy, I have “chewed” my way through all four hundred star-winning locations, without counting the second and third visits. Going out to unearth old-style trattorias was an obsession for years. Not to mention all the work experiences in restaurants and innumerable culinary seminars. I have even penned my passion in several cookery books. At the moment, for the Guide de l’Espresso, I am participating in the publication “I Ristoranti e i Vini d’Italia” as a food critic.
My passion for journalism has led me to become the editor of several magazines, and, at one point I was even managing six at the same time (Queen International, Prince, Golf Magazine, Per Voi, Il giornale delle buone notizie, Artigianato Veronese e Piccole Imprese). That was a long period during which I was always working, with tight schedules, robbing myself of sleep: I have always thought of my profession as a mission. You can never “put your feet up”, you are always on call.
My work as a freelance journalist has allowed me to collaborate with thirty-six different publications (among newspapers and magazines). Unfortunately, many of these have closed due to the current difficulties in publishing. Between editing and collaborating, I still work with about twenty national and international magazines (you can take a look in the “Collaborations” section).
I will conclude with a quotation from Charles Péguy, the French writer, which is close to how I see things, to my interpretation of life:
“Bygone workmen did not serve, they worked. They had an absolute honour, which is honour proper. A chair had to be made well. That was an understood thing. That was the first thing. It wasn’t that the chair had to be well made for the salary or on account of the salary. It wasn’t that it was made for the boss, nor for the boss’ clients. It had to be made well itself, in itself, for itself.
A handed-down tradition, springing from deep within the race, a history, an absolute, an honour, demanded that this chair be made well. Every part of the chair that was invisible to the eye was just as perfect as the parts that were. And it is only I – now so bastardized – that continue to go on. For those workers, in those workers, there was not even the shadow of a thought. It was work. They worked well. It was not a question of being seen or not being seen. It was the work in itself that had to be well done.”
This is my daily creed, this is what I am sharing with those who read me.