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Let’s drink a good book: ‘The House on the River Bank. The Saga of the Casadio Family’ By Daniela Raimondi…and a nice glass of Lambrusco 🍷

The latest tale in my matching of good books with good wines is a wonderful family saga read to the accompaniment of an iconic Italian wine.

I have just finished ‘The House on the River Bank. The Saga of the Casadio Family’ By Daniela Raimondi. A beautiful book that I have loved every page of!

The story is set in Stellata, a small hamlet in the municipality of Bondeno near Ferrara, on the border between Lombardy, Emilia Romagna and Veneto. In Stellata, which lies on the river banks of the Po, the Casadio family sees their destiny change forever when Giacomo Casadio marries Viollca Toska, a gypsy, seer and psychic.

Possente rock in Stellata, UNESCO heritage

The nomadic gypsy and her clan were stranded on the river bank due to the rain that fell relentlessly for weeks, transforming roads and fields into a muddy landscape, a fairly common phenomenon in this region.

A few weeks were enough to make Giacomo and Viollca to fall madly in love. In the meantime a series of events forced the gypsies to settle permanently in Stellata and therefore, despite the opposition of both families who had no desire to mix their traditions, the two lovers got married and started the Casadio family lineage.

From this union, all the descendants of the family are split in two: some born with the blue eyes and the dreamy temperament of their father Giacomo, the other half endowed with the same wild black eyes of Viollca, with a practical sense but with less imagination, although blessed with the gift of foreseeing the future. Interrogating her tarots, Viollca discovers what the future holds. The cards reveal the details of a terrible tragedy which will eventually befall the family….

An enchanting story that, between tears and smiles, runs through two centuries of Italian history, from the revolutionary uprisings that led to the unification of Italy up to the 1970s, marked by terrorism and social rebellions.

Prophecies, romance, realism, magic, a combination that will make you lose yourself in the history of Italy and will make you rediscover the true meaning of life: love, places of the heart, people.

The first thought for a wine lover who immerses themselves in this tale that takes you to the banks of the River Po, is Lambrusco wine.

Lambrusco is the best-selling wine in Italy and is the most exported Italian wine in the world. It is a wine of very old origins, drunk in ancient Rome. At that time it was born from wild vines and the Romans used to call it ‘labrusca’, a word which indicated the spontaneous growth of these vines which established themselves at the edge of fields. The Romans also knew this wine in its sparkling version, through a refermentation in a sealed and buried amphora. Today Lambrusco is produced with the Charmat method which traps bubbles in wine via carbonation in large steel tanks.

It is a wine that, in the past, had a lot of notoriety, but little prestige. Grown in the Po Valley, it has been recognized as DOC since 2010, but its qualities have not been recognized for a long time in the market, due to a bad reputation as a “wine of the poor” and “wine for taverns”. This reputation has ancient origins, because the Romans, even if they drank a lot, still considered it too rustic and acidulous for palates accustomed only to sweet wines. Therefore, it has always been a banned wine among true connoisseurs.

A change of trend began in 2012 when the famus wine critic, Eric Asimov, included Lambrusco in the ‘must-have wine list’ if you want to be very cool. ‘Lambrusco wants you back’, is the title of Asimov’s first article in the New York Times https://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/01/dining/reviews/lambrusco-a-perfect-warm-weather-wine-wants-you-back.html) and since then many top New York restaurants have had it on their wine list. Wine Spectator has also added the Lambrusco Rosso Frizzante Secco among the ‘must drink’ wines.

Today, Lambrusco, despite being sold worldwide and having a respectable reputation, remains very affordable for everyone.

It is a versatile wine, perfect with the cuisine of Emilia with its intense flavours. It is great with cured meats and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. Given the variety of Lambrusco (here a link where you can learn more about the various types https://shop.silvanoromaniparma.com/lambrusco-typologies) many of them go well with Emilian first courses such as lasagna, while others, more robust, are perfect with pork meat, sausages and boiled meats. It is acidic, young, with light tannins, perfect for fatty and succulent dishes.

Lambrusco is also great as a summer aperitif, especially if served chilled, perfect to enjoy with a good book!

Rita recommends

For me, the Emilia Romagna region has one of the best cooking traditions of Italy. It’s very traditional, which makes it a perfect combination with the local wine Lambrusco. Follow this link to discover a few of the most popular recipes from this region and enjoy!

Quando sei felice bevi per festeggiare. Quando sei triste bevi per dimenticare. Quando non hai nulla per essere triste o essere felice, bevi per fare accadere qualcosa.
(Charles Bukowski)

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