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Viewing the latest Italian earthquakes from afar

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A rainy afternoon spent walking the spring-time vineyards on the Drei Dona estate in Emilia Romagna.

News of the series of earthquakes (and here) that since early Sunday have been hitting the north-central Italy region of Emilia Romagna brought concerns for the many winemakers and artisans in the area.

Famous for its cheeses, ceramics and Sangiovese-based wines, among other things, Emilia Romagna has to me been one of the cherished off-the-tourist map areas of Italy.

Of course, I’m sure I’m not seeing how really busy the region can be, since all my visits have come in early spring, well before the weather warms and the tourists begin their migration to the so-called Romagna Riviera on the Adriatic Sea, where they frolic on the longest beach in Europe.

Early spring is when the winemakers are relaxed and vineyards are deserted, wines quietly evolving in the tanks and barrels and vines just starting to reflect the change of season.

I’ve walked the rolling vineyards of Fattoria Zerbina with winemaker Cristina Geminiani, a determined woman who took on the naysayers of a skeptical Italian wine press and wine industry to produce her lovely Scacco Matto (“Checkmate” in English), a passito made from Alabana di Romagna grapes. Are the wine barrels she stacked so carefully quite as neat as they were before the terremoto?

Is that massive porcelain elephant still standing in the International Museum of Ceramics in Faenza? It stands high as a man’s head and that’s not including the Hindu-like riders mounted on its back.

And I wonder if the 15th century watchtower on the Drei Dona estate Tenuta La Palazza, around which the main house was built and where Giovanna Drei Dona showed off some of the wineries oldest and its finest labels, all named for the estate’s horses , still stands.

We can only wait and hope.

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