Text and photos byYorgos Kostianis
Tradition dictates that, in each edition of Concorto, a day is dedicated to accompanying the festival’s guests on a field trip in order to explore the region of Piacenza and its discreet charm.
The destination of this year’s trip was in the beautiful hills of Val Tidone, namely at the Cantina Tenuta Pernice.
At 9 o’clock sharp, my alarm went off, only to be, punctually, ignored. After all, our meeting was set for 10:30, so I had one more hour of well-needed shut-eye. Apparently, everybody got the same idea and opted for hitting the snooze button as well. Directors, actors, photographers and guests, all scrambling to stick to the schedule, but after last night’s debauchery at Pontenure, it seemed a mission impossible.
Certain few, on the other hand — in full Mediterranean fashion — did not only run late, but let the very trip slip out of mind altogether. Their obtuseness, however, granted them that coveted extra time to grab a cup of coffee and smoke a couple of fags before being escorted to the hills, by car.
The rest of us pseudo-punctual were packed in a small shuttle, like high schoolers on a field trip. However, contrary to your average high schooler, my travelling companions knew the movie industry like the back of their hands. Therefore, the next hour and a half flew by fast, gossiping about A-list directors who act up when their diva-ish demands are not met; as well as reminiscing about classic American action films, that shaped our childhoods, despite their not-so-subtle propaganda.
Thus, after snapping some shots of the bucolic plains surrounding us and of dozed-off co-passengers, we finally arrived at our destination.
As soon as we set foot off the shuttle, we were cordially greeted by our kind hosts, who were waiting for us with an array of glasses and a half dozen bottles of artisan wine, ready for the tasting. Next to the bottles waited a delicious aperitif, to invigorate the spirit and fortify the stomach before making our way through the vineyards, under a scorching August sun, to discover the secrets of the winemaking process.
Tenuta Pernice is distinguished for the variety of its offer, including an ample selection of still regional wines (Malvasia, Gutturnio, Barbera, Collare Rosso Cabernet Sauvignon DOC) as well as sparkling ones (Gutturnio, Ortugo, etc.) produced both with the Martinotti (autoclave) and the classic method; and by also including a wide range of grappas, the winery offers an all-inclusive experience of high-quality wine production.
We, however, —dispersed among the vineyards, by now slightly tipsy and with our noses seared by the sun— could hardly pay heed to our guides well-articulated explications, and their (somewhat less well-articulated) interpretation by our kind translator; seeing how the only thing in our minds was our promised lunch. A lunch that, infallibly, lived up to our expectations. Starting off with a mixture of cold cuts and cured meats including air-cured pork meat, salami and a very savoury cold cut called Saviotto, in addition to the delicious coppa cooked with Gutturnio wine.
And as our drained wine glasses kept being refilled, as if by magic, we saw the wonderful entrée pass under our noses, making its way to our plates: tortelli with tail ends!
Better known in the vernacular as “tortei cun la cua”, this pasta is one of Piacenza’s traditional delicacies. Its history dates all the way back to 1351, when Francesco Petrarca paid a visit to Bernardo Anguissola, the feudal lord of Visconti, the castle’s cooks made this delicate pasta in his honour.
What makes this tortelli, stuffed with lean, stand out of the rest is their peculiar candy-shaped form ending in two tails, wrapped in a braid. The dough is prepared with wheat flour and eggs while the filling is composed of ricotta vaccinate, Grana Padano PDO cheese and spinach.
After having devoured, at least, 3 servings each, we gathered all our fellow travellers —who were, by now, slowly succumbing to a food-and-wine-induced blissful drowsiness— in the cellar’s terrace, overviewing the endless vineyard plains, for the customary group memento photo. Then, with heavy hearts —and even heavier stomachs— we climbed back into our shuttle heading to the city centre, in order to prepare for another long night of critically-acclaimed short films, unfettered dance moves and ever-flowing wine. It’s a tough job, we know, but someone’s got to do it.
Our heartfelt thanks go out to Cantina Tenuta Pernice, a long-lasting and well-established partner of Concorto, which shares our festival’s international vision and recognises the importance of urging foreign visitors to discover the region’s excellence. Amongst Russians, French, Belgians, Germans, Welsh, English, Romanians and Greeks, there was none of our guests that could resist the captivating bucolic beauty of the winery, nor one who wasn’t touched by the hosts warm welcome or seduced by the quality of their wine. With a bit of luck, our livers will — against all odds — live to see another scorching Italian August and we will meet again to talk about films while sipping Ortugo, on the beautiful hills of Val Tidone.