There’s a colleague I’ve been meaning to call for a while. Diego’s agency developed the visual image and promotional materials for Vinalia, an intimate restaurant with an amazing wine cellar and tasting bar that was just near Palazzo Margherita in the heart of l’Aquila. I had a lot of favorite places to eat and drink in L’Aquila, and Vinalia was where I went when I wanted something intimate, elegant and refined (and was in the mood to pay for it). Marzia Buzzanca, Vinalia’s mind, heart and soul was somehow able to transmit her rich knowledge of wine and her attention to detail, but also make you feel at ease and somehow in control. Of course she was playing with a stacked deck. It was all good. And the nights where dinners were combined with wine tastings guided by representatives of some of most renown winemakers in Italy and France became relaxed sumptuous dinner parties among friends.
I still have one of the last messages she sent out to Vinalia’s followers:
“All the bottles in the wine cellar are now on sale. Please look at the website. If you are interested please write me with what you want and where to send it now.
Please pass this on.
A big Hug”
When I started this blog, I started out with a brief piece on Vinalia, finishing with a promise to write again about what Marzia and her people were able to do. Now I have to work from blurry memory.
When I lived in Venice as a student twenty years ago I first began to feel that cities were far more than the sum of their streets and buildings and the people animating them. What counted was how you would interact with the people and places there – and your relationship with the city itself.
It’s not a question of not being able to go for wine in Vinalia or Il Bar Garibaldi or Fenice or Ju Boss, or go for an espresso at Caffé Polar or the Frattelli Nurzia. Or no longer being able to have a last minute neapolitan pizza at Bella Napoli for Friday lunch with my girls, or sneak a slice at one of a dozen different places around town, or even just reading the shared newspaper at the bar in Piazza San Pietro in front of Silvia’s university office.
The people behind what made these and other places so enjoyable are still alive and that’s what counts most. Many have already reopened bars and eateries elsewhere in town. When something this big and bad happens you discover that rebuilding your life comes naturally.
But what what was part of my life and thousands of others is gone. Thirty seconds was all it took to transform one of Italy’s lesser known but more beautiful historic centers, a place where tens of thousands of people would live, work, shop, study or just hang out with friends, into a vast, mostly inactive, construction site.
But I think my youngest daughter Emily was more eloquent. At the beginning of this Summer when she was saying goodbye to her cousin who had come to visit us at the hotel that housed and cared for us in Montesilvano. “Your are so lucky that you can go back to your everyday and habits”
Posted in earthquake, Restaraunts, Uncategorized, Wine / Vino
Tagged abruzzo, abruzzo earthquake, bar nurzia, bella naopoli, buzzanca, caffe polar, champagne, frattelli nurzia, italian wine, ju boss, l'aquila, l'aquila vinalia, la fenice, marzia buzzanca, montesilvano, nurzia, palazzo margheria, percorsi del gusto, piazza san pietro, terremoto in abruzzo, thirty seconds, via leosini, vinalia, vinalia l'aquila, vinalia percorsi del gusto
The first weekend I came to L’Aquila, in 1994, I discovered two places that have been making my mouth water ever since. Ju Boss, the city’s oldest wine bar, and the slightly spicy hot pizzette, or mini-pizzas from Pane e Lavoro.
Ju Boss is still off limits in the “red zone” that was the city I loved so much, and it’s fans have to wait, destroying their livers elsewhere. But Pane e Lavoro, in the Torrione neighborhood, is open again.
I never have asked them the details about their bakery or their pizzette, I just buy them and, more importantly, I eat them with conviction. It’s not the city’s most renown bakery, but I’ve never heard any ill spoken of it either.
The come in two sizes: round pizzette that could cover your outstretched hand to the fingertips, and smaller round pizzette that would rest in the palm of your hands. Just pizza dough and a generous dash of chunky tomato sauce. Especially the chunky kind.
Torrione is the neighborhood Silvia was born in. It’s name comes from the “tower” that is actually the last remaining leg of the Roman aqueduct that carried water from sources on the Gran Sasso, the Apennine’s tallest mountain, to the baths and fountains of Amiternum. (The ruins of Amiternum are visitable near near one of the largest post-earthquake housing projects the government is building for the thousands of us still homeless. But more on that another time.) The tower today is half what it was at Christmas, its ancient bricks littered around like shavings from a hyperactive child’s crayon.
The Torrione neighborhood was built following World War II and is today a gateway to the old city. It was full of shops as well as apartments and schools. Very few people have been able to moved back but like grass after a forest fire, shops are sprouting again.
The Pane e Lavoro bakery is one of them. As is a branch of the Pane di Prata bakery. And Il Buongustaio, one of the best little butcher and specialty food stores in town is making the best of things. They are now an affordable but for unbeatable quality take away and have set up a few picnic tables under a tent outside.
“Pane e lavoro” means bread and work. What can be a more fitting starting point for the reconstruction of L’Aquila than the bakery and what’s still standing after 2000 years of Roman bricks and mortar.
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Posted in earthquake, ingredients, Restaraunts, Uncategorized
Tagged amiternum, best pizzette in abruzzo, bread and work, buongustaio, carbonara.wordpress.com, gran sasso, joshua john lawrence, joshua lawrence, ju boss, l'aquila, pane di prata, pane e lavoro, pizza, pizza dough, pizzette, red zone, roman aqueduct, torrione, zona rossa