Adventures in your garden: Italy


With a delicious wine, a good book, an immersive film and some excellent music, you have everything you need to feel transported to warmer climes – even if you’re just in your own garden. This summer, we’re taking you on a tour of some of our favourite wine regions via their cultural riches. First up, we stop for a taste of the Mediterranean in Italy.

Summer, the season of adventure and escapism. Perhaps there’s a literal escape involved, hopefully to a sun-soaked beach or a verdant hiking trail – something emphatically pleasant. But I’m firmly of the belief that you don’t need a holiday lined up to indulge in a little escapism. Adventure is a mindset.  

Every time we drink a delicious wine, we are transported – however fleetingly – to the place it comes from. Just as a book can take us by the hand, gently revealing another world that we never knew existed. Alongside wine, art and culture have a unique power to take us out of our everyday routines, transport us somewhere new, bring us back with new perspectives.  

In that spirit, we’re kicking off a new series of summer adventures to see you through the coming months, whether you have a holiday lined up or not. With a good bottle of wine, a book, a film and some excellent music, you can have an adventure in spirit in your own garden. Or if, like me, you’re not lucky enough to have a garden, just throw it all into a picnic basket and make for the nearest Common.

First stop on our cultural adventures: Italia. Andiamo!  

What to drink

2021 Arcurìa, Etna Bianco, Graci, Sicily 

I adore Alberto Graci’s volcanic wines all year round, but their bright energy is perfect for summer. Alberto is a good friend of Berry Bros. & Rudd, and we were joined by him last year for our sustainability forum. I was struck by his rather poetic and philosophical approach to winemaking, how he sees the volcanic terroir of Mount Etna as a gift to work with – a force of creativity, resulting in a constant metamorphosis and an understanding of one’s place in nature. 

This energy translates beautifully into his wines. The 2021 Arcurìa, in particular, is just so fresh and expressive, with uplifting notes of lemon counterbalanced by a subtle nectarine ripeness. It is both floral and flinty, held together with a lively tension, speaking to the dynamic terrain it comes from. I recently enjoyed this wine with a barbecue lunch the other day – halloumi skewers, grilled vegetables and simply roasted potatoes – and it was just beautiful. Who would suspect that from Etna’s ash-cloaked slopes could come something so delicious?  

What to watch

The Hand of God, Paolo Sorrentino (2021)  

I first discovered Paolo Sorrentino while studying my Italian degree, via his film The Great Beauty (2013). Despite its exquisite cinematography, it had an air of jaded disaffection that made it hard to love. This isn’t at all the case with his latest film, The Hand of God.  

This highly personal, autobiographical film – continuing a grand Italian tradition that includes the likes of Cinema Paradiso and Fellini’s 8½ – is rooted in Sorrentino’s upbringing in Naples during the 1980s. It is a poignant coming-of-age tale, featuring a host of quirky family members, as they gather to watch the now-infamous 1986 World Cup event from which the film takes its name. But it’s not really about football, more a portrait of family life anchored in a particular moment in time. Heartfelt, nostalgic and soaked in Neapolitan sunshine, it shines a light on the adolescent stirrings of a great filmmaking talent.  

What to listen to

Fabrizio De André 

I realise that, to Italians, this is about as cliche as recommending Bob Dylan, but I still remember the marvel of discovering Fabrizio De André for the first time. One of Italy’s greatest songwriters, he was a leading figure in the cantautore (“singer-songwriter”) movement during the 1960s and ’70s. His songs draw from the rich tradition of Italian folk music across the country, singing in a range of dialects and telling the stories of marginalised characters and antiheroes – a mid-century troubadour, of sorts – alongside protest songs reflecting contemporary concerns.  

His style is often described as sitting somewhere between Leonard Cohen and Georges Brassens, with a strong pacifist and left-wing ethos. Whatever your stance on politics, his lyricism and musicality make him one of Italy’s greatest cultural heroes – so much so that they’ve named streets after him across the country.  

There are so many great songs to choose from. La Guerra di Piero is a quietly devastating anti-war protest song. The melancholy Via del campo has an old-world narrative feel, telling the story of a brothel street in Genoa. But the one that’ll get all the Italians singing in the piazza is Il Pescatore – and to me, it sounds just like summer.  

What to read

The Dry Heart, Natalia Ginzberg (1947)  

Another of Italy’s great anti-establishment intellectuals, Natalia Ginzberg is known for short, stealthy novels layered with complexity. In little over 100 pages, The Dry Heart is a compact psychological thriller that lays bare the failures of marriage. It begins with a jolt: a woman draws a gun and shoots her husband between the eyes. The rest of the story unspools to take us through the events leading up to the murder – a tale of the everyday and mundane, and the disaffection stirring under the surface.  

Ginzberg is hailed for her unique style, combining a complex emotional atmosphere with a strangely direct yet mysterious voice. If cool and detached Italian noir is your thing, this will be a real treat over the course of a sunny afternoon in the garden – with a glass of Graci’s Arcurìa to hand, of course.  

Buy the 2021 Arcurìa by Alberto Graci here