Mondovino. The film generates opinions from across the spectrum, some with unwavering accolades for the American film maker, Jonathan Nossiter, and others viewing his documentary as a witch hunt. In essence, the film pits small wine producers against the big boys, the Robert Parkers and Michel Rollands of the world. Nossiter’s belief is that with the globalization of wine we are losing the small, terroir-driven wines to those popularized by large entities. The film is interesting in that it offers up questions for us to ponder, whether it is about globalization in general, the environment, or where the middle ground is in the world of wine.
Walking through Piazza Maggiore in Bologna this summer, I was surprised to see the piazza filled with folding chairs, and a large movie screen occupying one end of the square. The posts on the film trailer showed a schedule, but since everything was in Italian I walked across the square to the Visitor’s Info center to ask for more specifics. “Oh, yes, there will be a film shown tonight…..do you like wine?” asked the woman at the desk. “There will be a film tonight called, Mondovino, starting at 9:00 pm.” I mumbled incredulously, “What? Tonight? Yes, I like wine.” She then went on to say there would be a private wine tasting at the Cinema Lumiere across town for only $10 if I wanted to attend. The director, Jonathan Nossiter, would be there with a group of small Italian wine producers pouring all natural wine, with a panel discussion. And why wouldn’t I?
Off I went to catch the autobus back home, as only an idiot would stay out in the heat of Italy at this time of day. I returned later with map in hand, and found the Cinema Lumiere surrounded by a beautiful mercato that sets up here once a week in summer. Fresh produce, local wine and beer, flowers, prosciutto, and cheese booths were packed onto the cinema’s patio and surrounded by images of the famous films of Italy. A nice surprise while waiting for the doors of the wine tasting to open.
Once inside, there was a general overview given by Mr. Nossiter, and then each winemaker spoke as their wine was poured. All in Italian, I picked up only a little of what was said, but it was enough to feel the passion of these producers. I’ll write more on this event and natural wine in the next blog post. After the wine tasting it was time to leave for the piazza and the documentary, Mondovino.
The Film Library of Bologna offers the Sotto le Stelle del Cinema — Cinema Under the Stars – from June 19 through July 30, and it was one of the highlights of my summer stay in Bologna. Selected films include documentaries, Italian classics, restored works, directorial tributes, and a few animations.
The piazza was filled to the max when animations were shown, and it was one of those lovely moments to soak up the surrounding culture. Faces of young and old, from all walks of life quietly watching the huge cartoon dominating the square, with the outline of ancient architecture for a backdrop and the stars overhead. I missed very few of these nights.
Thoughts on travel to Italy during July and August? Don’t. Not if you can help it. I know that sounds harsh, but weather does impact trips in a big way. The humidity and heat drain all energy and make it difficult to enjoy the city, see the sights or even venture outdoors. There’s a reason most Italians head for the seaside or mountains during these months! Many shops are closed during this season, and Sundays? A double whammy!! As blasphemous as it may sound, with no blasphemy intended, I slightly cursed both Domenica and Agosto often….oh so often. To be in a great city and have almost everything shut down is not the best use of travel money. I’ll leave you with this. If you must go in the summer….go! Don’t wait for perfect…life is short. This sweaty, challenging trip was packed with memories that will last a lifetime, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Arrivederci!