Tag Archives: marzia buzzanca

Places, habits, memories

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”

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Drunk before the wine

Friday night I caught the tail end of a classical music here in L’Aquila. I had to pick up my daughter at piano lessons a half hour before it was to start, so I could only sneak in quietly between movements at the end.

Why even bother? In part because when the company, Officine Musicale (directed by Orazio Tuccella) plays at Palazzetto dei Nobili, usually Vinalia, one of Central Italy’s best wine cellars and among it most refined and creative restaurants, is the main sponsor, and they usually organize an aperitivo for the concertgoers after the show. The other night the special guest was Bianco Colline an interesting, full but balanced white wine from the Azienda Agricola Nicola Di Sipio in the town of Ripa Teatina near the Adriatic coast. This white wine is a mix of Trebbiano (Ugni Blanc), Pecorino and Falagnhina grapes.

But before that there was the music, three symphonies from Franz Joseph Hayden. I’m not a big expert on classical music – I don’t get much farther than the most famous names and their best known works. I know J. S. Bach wrote a lot of piano concertos, and that Mozart died young. Often classical music flips on that switch in my brain that makes me daydream or reflect on things, and I end up missing most of the music. A part of me often likes this as much as the music itself.

That night, as I was standing in the back of the small hall against part of the wooden, medieval chorus like woodwork that lines the lower half of the walls (painting from the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth century fill the rest), something started happening during the second to last movement of the evening. Something started to move inside me, I started to feel a bit warm, happy, and dizzy. The penultimate movement of Hayden’s Trauersymphonie (Symphony 44) made me feel as though I was about to float off the ground.

The glass of white wine, later that night, was what would later pull me back to earth.

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Vinalia (in L’Aquila, 90 minutes from Rome)

Hidden in an elegant basement next to town hall in L’Aquila (look it up, or better yet, come and visit, it’s less than two hours into the mountains by car from Rome) is Vinalia, one of my favourite places to experience food, wine and atmosphere with a friend or three.

Vinalia can trace it’s origins as an enoteca back to 1510, but today, thanks to sommelièr Marzia Buzzanca’s love and understanding of wine, this is one of central Abruzzo’s three best places for wine, and by far the best one for oustanding wines by the glass.
More details on why Vinalia is great later on…but in the meantime see for yourself here: http://www.enotecavinalia.it/)