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Literati

Our Something to Wine About contest begins with this MAD entry (Martin A David) . Much like the original Coffeeshop Chroniclesthat launched our site ten years ago, this contest asks you to write anything in the world fermenting in your soul, as long as you tie it back to wine. Here’s a link to details: https://awordwithyoupress.com/2019/11/29/something-to-wine-about-a-new-contest/

 

A Very Special Vintage

By Martin A. David

 

Everyone, including Ezio himself, thought Ezio Alexio was a special child. He was the baby who filled a nest that had been emptied by the war. Almost every household in the town of Gorizia had lost a family member, a friend, or a neighbor. Ezio’s parents lost their two sons, one in battle, and one whose head was bashed in at an anti-fascist demonstration. It was 1948, in a desperate, post-war Italy, that his parents, who thought themselves too old for such things, were touched by a miracle. The miracle was Ezio.

Ezio was spoiled. He was showered with attention and treats by neighbors. His father, who rejoiced at having his legacy restored, carried the young boy everywhere as soon as the precious boy child was old enough to sit on papa’s shoulders. Ezio’s mother, who lit enough candles at the local church to illuminate half the town,  worshipped the ground the child walked upon.

Gorizia’s citizens needed bright moments. The years of war and deprivation had wiped the smiles off most of the faces in the town. There were places not that far away that had seen ferocious battles and experienced savage bombings,  but Gorizia and the nearby area had escaped the worst of the fighting. Even so, there  were still buildings in the town that were missing their roofs and there were sons, brothers, and husbands who had been found lying in distant meadows, neither drunk nor asleep. The story of Ezio, the wonder child, was just such a bright moment.

Was Ezio being overindulged? Yes!

There are parts of the Italian tradition and therefore the Italian spirit that even a war could not suppress. The Vendemmia was one of them. That is the early fall harvest of the succulent wine grapes. The grapes are gathered gently and lovingly so as not to break the skins and risk starting the fermentation process too early. The bunches and bunches of precious fruit are put into bathtub sized wooden vats and then the fun begins. One of the vats is placed on a stone platform in the town square. A group of local residents—if you are over inclined toward kindness you might refer to them as a band— bring out their musical instruments and begin to play—if you are over inclined toward kindness you might refer to it as music. The priest, the dour-faced Father D’Este, leads a procession from the church door to the center of the square and blesses the grapes. Then an honored elder inhabitant, barefoot and with his trousers rolled up above his bony knees, is assisted to the platform and lifted into the vat. The crowd goes wild with cheers and the respected senior begins the ancient ritual of stomping the grapes into a rich, purple mush.

The inhabitants of Gorizia valued the old, but they also venerated the new. The new in this case was the adored toddler named Ezio. “Lascia che Ezio calpesti l’uva,” one of the townspeople shouted. Soon the cry was taken up by all, “Let Ezio stomp the grapes.”  And so Ezio was brought to the center of the crowd and lifted into the vat. He looked confused for a few seconds, but then he followed the example of the old man and began sloshing joyously through the murky mixture. Ezio sloshed and stomped and splashed and looked triumphant, and then he did what any young boy might do under the circumstances.

He peed.

Silence swept the plaza as townsfolk remembered errands they had to do elsewhere. Soon the square was empty.  There may have been whispered comments here and there, but nobody ever mentioned the Ezio incident in public. However, people did remark that the wine from that year’s vintage had a certain unique flavor.

 

**** something’s afoot!

6 comments

    • Avatar
      Edward Coonce says:

      I love this story. I watched a documentary recently about the horrors of the war in Italy and the final days of Mussolini, and the incredible hardships the Italian people suffered at the hands of that regime. The post war situation was never spoken about much on this side of the globe, even in American history books. We American children thought Italy was more a macrocosm of what we saw in Italian immigrant communities. This presents a human side of a vast story that needs to be retold, again and again.

  1. Avatar
    Jon Tobias says:

    Great write. I like that the reaction of the spectators is to look the other way and then for them to go about their day instead of get angry at Ezio for spoiling the event. I think the reaction, or lack there of, makes Gorizia’s citizens a character as a whole. That quiet forgiveness of a little boy’s innocence is a shining moment in this piece. So well written. Thank you for sharing.

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