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How is possibile to live on an island dominated by the Europe bigger volcano, but most of all, one of the most active in the world?
It was August, during one of my husband's first trips to Sicily, and there was a strong eruption. The floor of my terrace's house was covered with a layer of slippery black sand, from my balcony it was able to see the volcano in the distance and its lava trail.
During the night we felt regular tremors, which made the window glasses vibrate.
" is it Etna ?" - he asked me
"what we do?"
"nothing at all"
Maybe it's not easy to understant it, but it's simple.
Nothing, what can you when you live at the foot of the volcano?
It's something bigger than you, Mother Nature is bigger than you. That's it, Sicilians are fatalist.
Not only, we have a love-hate relationship with Etna.
We love and respect the volcano that we simply call "the mountain", it's part of us, what we do, what we are.
Etna reciprocates our love with an unique soil, rich in minerals, that give us extravirgin olive oils, wines, fruits and vegetables.
In 1981 I was just 7 years old.
A big eruption was approaching the village of Randazzo and many houses risked to be engulfed by the lava. This was the first time for me, the first time that the lava risked a place well knowed to me.
We used to cross the main street of Randazzo during our frequent trips to reach part of my parent's family, that still live in one of the close villages.
For the first time I was afraid, for the first time I had the perception there are things that you can't control, that are bigger than you. I remember the tv breaking news showing the people in front of the lava, motionless as stones, waiting, just waiting.
Years later, on the New York Times Food and Wine section, I read a beautiful article about Chiara Vigo and her family winery.
Last year I had the pleasure to meet Chiara Vigo and to listen her memories about the lava eruption.
Chiara is my same age, her winery is located in Randazzo, just near that main road we used to cross during our trips.
She told me about that period, about her parents' concern.
Nothing could be done, just waiting ... and praying.
The lava eruption engulfed part of the vines, Chiara’s parents were there, looking helplessly at the river of fire advancing and engulfing what its ancestors had built.
Unexpectedly the lava made 90 degree turn to finish in the Alcantara River.
A strange trajectory change, still unexplainable today, the end of the nightmare.
After a great fear the temptation to leave everything is normal and is far from Sicily that Chiara finishes her studies, in France.
Later she decides that it’s time to come back to give a purpose to that special place.
She starts cleaning the vineyard and producing her wine; the signs of the eruption are still evident and beautiful at the same time.
An hard work that has been rewarded, some of the ancient vines, which were covered by incandescent lava, after about thirty years have begun to produce grapes again.
Chiara is so passionate, she grows her grapes without chemicals and pesticides, using ancient methods, the wines and the extravirgin olive oil are organic and biodinamic.
Passion and care is in every single detail, like the beutiful bottle labels.
I spent more than two hours walking through the vinery, the small vegetable garden, admiring a thousand-year-old olive tree that lives huged by a centenary oak tree, visiting the ancient farmers house and the main villa.
After the visit, seated at the dining table I tasted three wines that Fattorie Romeo Castello produces nowadays VIGO Etna Rosso, ALLEGRA CORE Etna Rosso and my favorite one VIGOROSA a rosè wine.
The visit to the cellars of Chiara has represented for me an exciting journey in the past for me, this special place is to show how the disaster has become a resource.
Life is stonger than everything, after all, you just need to have faith, and the grape can still give you its fruits, between the lava stones, after 30 years
Fattorie Romeo del Castello
Contrada Allegracore- Strada Provinciale 89 - Randazzo (CT)