Biodynamic wine — it’s alive!

Bellotti is a well-known biodynamic wine maker

Bellotti is a well-known biodynamic wine maker

Today, we spent the afternoon at the farmhouse/vineyard of Stefano Bellotti, the “father” of biodynamic wine. Jon has become very taken with this subject of late and has been setting up daily excursions to meet the makers of such wines. Biodynamic wine is made with no fertilizer, pesticides, sulfites or other additives. It ferments through the action of wild yeast. My favorite line of Bellotti’s: “We do not make wine. We accompany [it]. The micro-organismos make the wine.”

Here are some pictures on Flickr from the day.

By the way, here is our trip itinerary for the six weeks of this leg of our trip. Feel free to make suggestions, although the days are pretty jam packed!

The Itinerary


Filed under Italy, Natural Wine, Wine

Mombaruzzo, Italy

Thus begins the next leg of our three-week trip to Italy. While here, we will be exploring the wines, cheeses, sausages, and truffles!@! of two highly-regarded food and wine regions: Piedmont and Tuscany. Today we drove to Mombaruzzo, Italy, which is the Piedmont region.

This is the view from our bathroom window where we are staying at Hotel LaVilla, which I highly recommend! Check out my review on TripAdvisor.

There are some other shots of our Tour di Piedmont here: more PHOTOS.

Leave a comment

Filed under Italy

Gargnano Graffito

Yesterday, we had a lovely walk up a long and rock-strewn road, shedding the irritation of cars and people the further along we got. Toward the end, there was a long-abandoned concrete overpass jutting out of the mountainside. And, of course, the requisite graffiti.

Man cannot seem to resist painting caves. In this case, the vivid drawings made a luscious visual addition to the  already stunning landscape.

For more PICTURES, click here: Gargnano.


Leave a comment

Filed under Italy

Yes To Italy. No To The IHT.

GARGNANO, ITALY:  Before I left I was thinking about the things I would miss the most about New York, and the first things that came to mind was the print editions of the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.

Each morning I’ve been away—thus far, two—I wandered around a little nervously until I could get a International Herald Tribune into my hands.

The IHT is, essentially, the foreign edition of the New York Times, which has owned it singlehandedly since it broke some china in late 2002 in order to stop sharing it with the Washington Post. (This has allowed the Times to own 100% of its losses since then, but that’s another story.)  But it’s not the same as getting the New York Times.  The IHT feels distant. It lacks all urgency. It doesn’t demand your attention—a problem I have with “serious” English-language European newspapers in general.  The IHT feels Canadian in its remove from the events in America and elsewhere it describes, even though practically everything in it was written by an American and for an American audience. I have to squint at it really hard to make it resemble the New York Times; it’s the Times through a blurry glass. I don’t think this is just the jetlag talking, either.

Other than that: Italy is beautiful. Immediately after landing in Venice we headed over to Al Covo to talk about natural Italian wines with Al Covo owner Cesare Benelli and his fabulous and hilarious sommelier sommelier pal Mauro Lorenzon. (Lorenzon also writes a blog–hope you can understand Italian–and runs this wine bar where we had a rollicking late dinner. Late for us, at least.)

Yesterday it took Laurel and me several hours to realize it was Saturday, not Sunday.


Filed under International Herald Tribune, Italy, Natural Wine, Wine

a Villa to die for (seriously, bury me here!)

MORE PHOTOS posted here.

It is Day 4 in Italy and it’s hard to believe how quickly the hours in each day are passing. What have we done in the last four days since we left New York City? Gotten fatter, mostly.

We’ve eaten like hogs about to be slaughtered and exercised about as much. Hate that lousy feeling. Trying to avoid eating bread; but in Italy, I could eat an entire bread meal, the bread is just so good. Waiter, per favore, solo pan per me.

This place where we are staying, Villa Feltrinelli, is like a rest home for the rich. I don’t know what we were thinking staying here!  [Point of fact: though the Feltrinelli web site brags about artists and statesmen having stayed there, it fails to mention that the Villa was once the temporary “prison” of Mussolini.] We should have called this our second honeymoon, it’s that over the top. And the other guests here certainly don’t seem to be jumping up an down with excitement the way we are (but quietly, so as not to call too much attention to ourselves). They seem to take the place in stride.

I guess you’re supposed to be accustomed to just eating and drinking and reading and taking in the views, sitting by the water, recuperating from your life of luxury.

Alright, I’ll admit, this is rather grand, but I still need the counterpoint. I need to feel I have earned it, paying with punishing physical or intellectual exercise. I cannot merely rest. I need something to rest against. Equal and opposite force.

Stress/recovery. Hunger/satiation. That’s what I need. Off for a long walk.

Leave a comment

Filed under Italy

Ah, Venezia!

We foolishly planned NO time to really see Venice. It’s been rather a whirlwind tour (one night only!). But, in that time, we met and interviewed a couple of local biodynamic wine-makers (that will be a recurrent theme in Italy; Jon is fascinated with this subject); we’ve had a meal or three, we’ve kind of recuperated from the long trip here.

(Top) A classic shot of Venice, from our taxi to the hotel where we stayed, Hotel Bonvecchiati. (Bottom) One of Venice’s famous biodynamic wine-makers, Mauro Lorenzon. He also owns a fabulous little wine bar/restaurant called Enoteca Mascareta.

Click on the link for other photos from the day in…  Venice

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

So a guy and a girl get on a plane.

So, the short version of it is that we will be travelling—a lot—in the next several months. We will take pictures. We will shoot video. We will meet with the occasional journalist, media exec and media entrepreneur. We will read. We will eat. We will drink wine. And we will record what we do and see here.

We leave for the first leg of our journeys later this month, around the 24th, to be semi-exact. We’ll spend three weeks in Italy and three or four weeks in China.

That all seems very far away right now, given all that we need to get done before we leave. Among other things, I’ve gotten so many travel-related vaccinations in the past weeks I feel like I’m doing a reasonable impression of a pincushion. Generally a crush of logistics and organizational matters make me lose my mind, though this is something Laurel has yet to notice about me  [severe coughing ]. But today all of what’s going on– how soon we’re leaving and how fast it’s coming together and how much needs to be done between here and there—achieved the precise velocity to release exactly enough adrenaline to make all of it feel joyous.



Filed under Uncategorized

Welcome to CultureTripping!

Jon Fine and I are traveling around the world for the next six months and this is the place where we’ll be sharing info about our travels. We hope you’ll join us for the ride.


Filed under Uncategorized