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Back Sei qui: Home Territori Tutte le Notizie Miscano Cultura A ROMANTIC LOVE STORY AT THE TRAPPETO

A ROMANTIC LOVE STORY AT THE TRAPPETO

Original English extracts
from

LOUIS A. DE FURIA
“THE ROAD FROM ARIANO IRPINO”

 

Library of Congress Control Number 2002091646
Copyrights by Louis A. De Furia
Published by Rubicon Printing Co.
Livingston, New Jersey, U.S.A. 2002
(pp. 54 – 67)

    “…One windy cold overcast morning found Mingo and his helper walking down Via Monte toward the Trappeto district. Undoubtedly they both would rather have been at home where it was warmer. Covered tightly against the wind that rushed and howled up the road between the stuccoed facades of the houses they walked in silence. Hurrying they walked close to the buildings trying to gain some protection from the biting wind. The bluster was bitter and Mingo retreated even further into his great wool cloak by pulling it to cover his face…
     They were on their way to the home of don Antonio Di Florio a long walk down into the Trappeto district to do a small favour. Mingo had been asked to drill a hole in the head of a new oak wine barrel and install a spigot. Shivering from the cold caused Mingo to remark to Placido: “He picked a good time to ask for a favour.” As recompense for this frigid walk Mingo assured himself he had no intention of descending into the cold wine cellar excavated in the tufo. Accordingly, he was glad his “helper” came along. The wine cellar would be Placido’s responsibility. The warm hearthstone of the fireplace was to be Mingo’s directorial position… 
     When they arrived and had finished exchanging pleasantries with don Antonio and his wife, Mingo began a serious show of explaining to Placido where to drill to put the spigot. Meanwhile he kept reassuring don Antonio he had a great deal of trust in his disciple – who knew the work well enough. Truthfully, it was absurdly easy. Nevertheless Mingo continued – for all and sundry, “Judging the correct height from the bottom of the barrel is an exacting skill”, he said importantly. Continuing, “One needs to know how to gauge the amount of sediment in the wine barrel, so as not to draw it off with the clear wine.“ Obvious nonsense – the placement of the spigot had remained unchanged for centuries. Feigning that it sounded sensible, Placido and don Antonio nodded their heads in accord. A few moments later Mingo sotto voce – aside to his co-worker said, “I’ll wait here and have a few words and maybe a glass of wine with don Antonio”…

     Don Antonio’s home in the Trappeto district was a single storied stone building with its back nestled into the mountain side. Originally a grotto, three generations of Di Florios had patiently during the winter months cut into the mountain. They used the excavated tufo stones to enlarge the outer buildings.
     He could have lived in a “better” place, but this area included other ancient grotto dwellings and the people of the Trappeto with whom he felt a strong kinship. The grottos also provided the constant cool temperatures he needed to store wine…
     In addition to this piece of property, don Antonio had a large farm in the Magliano district. The family would spend the early spring through summer working the farm…
     Entering their front door you’d be in a simple kitchen where a fireplace is constantly burning to ease the chill of the stone walls, as well as to cook. Central was a heavy wooden table, chairs with seats of woven straw and a bench on either side of the fireplace. A good place to sit contemplating the flames, catch up with your thoughts or watch the cooking being done in heavy copper pans. A local product, hammered into shape by the iron monger masto Lanza…
     Deeper yet, you’ll see the bed of the parents and two large woven reed hampers that are used for laundry. One for clean, folded laundry packed in some semblance of order, and the other for laundry awaiting washing. Deeper still into the mountain you’ll find a large arcone- a sheet metal storage bin with a divider insert for wheat and corn. Partitioning the private living area was a wooden wall enclosing the cantina portion of the building. Here don Antonio wholesaled wine, here also was the entrance to the wine cellar accessed by stone stairs cut into the tufo.
     Positioned around the wine cellar on a low stone platform were a dozen or more barrel, with cryptic chalk markings on them – a kind of code, reminders for don Antonio. This way he kept track of vintage, quality and price differences…

     Descending the stairs Placido peered into the darker recesses of the cool but not cold wine cellar waiting for his eyes to accustom themselves beyond the small circle of light the oil lamp he carried down with him provided. Brushing some dust off the face of the large white oak barrel he found waiting for him he began drilling the hole. Carefully he cranked the drill brace biting a circular shaving from the wooden head of the barrel…
     This particular one was a vessel capable of holding about five hundred and fifty litres of wine…
      He completed the hole he had started with a few hard cutting turns of the drill brace. Still he felt the need - knowing Mingo, to stall for more time. He looked about for something else to do…
     Taking the small nails out of his pocket he tackled the hard wood wedges, normally kept there to steady the vessel, to the sides of the barrel. “Ecco fatto – there done, secure as a fistful of carlini in a priest pocket, he grinned. “Talking of priests, “ he said out loud – while looking about for a glass to sample a barrel, “this is very dry work. “ No glass, but a clay beaker stood inverted on the crest of another barrel near by... Assuaging his guilt, he reasoned don Antonio would never deny any worker a glass or two of his wine.
     Dipping his finger into the wine in the beaker, he sniffed and tasted it… Sitting down on the stone platform, he took a couple of swallows from the clay jar, realizing it held more than he had thought. Raising it to his lips he slowly emptied it. It’d be a sin to waste it… Drained  of its contents, he replaced the beaker, wiped his face and hands with his handkerchief, put his tools in the bag, and went up the stone steps…
    Almost immediately he was asked to accompany Anna, don Antonio’s daughter who had arrived while he was drilling the hole in the barrel, back down into the cellar. Don Antonio asked her to get a pitcher of the new wine…
     Placido carried the light for her. Carefully leading the way down, half turned to light each step, he became acutely aware of her lifted skirt. Inadvertently – and highly provocative, revealing her soft white ankles…
     When he first saw her in the kitchen as he ascended from the cellar he was pleased to see so lovely a girl. He had known of don Antonio’s daughter, even had seen her once or twice waking with her mother in the piazza, but his mind’s eye remembered a youthful girl, a child, not this, a flower in full bloom…
     She replied, “No, I’m not involved with anyone”, and laughed at his outrageous proposal that he intended to marry her…
      Meanwhile upstairs in the kitchen Mingo, imagining Lord knows what, was parched and a bit concerned by the wait. Is it possible that his helper could be causing the delay? Damn, he was convinced don Antonio wouldn’t refill his glass until the new wine arrived…