I rolled off the plane yesterday morning at Malpensa airport at about 6:30 in the morning. It was pitch black, the ground was oily with the night’s condensation, and the airport was fully of sleepy-looking, surly airport employees, understandably cranky at being awake and required to function so early.
I grabbed my bag and headed straight for the first cup of coffee, before renting a car and heading out into the darkness of early morning. I realized I have never made a trip like this on my own before. There is a kind of zen-like silence in my head that I think comes from not having to actually converse with anyone for an extended period of time. An unconformable, but not entirely unwelcome feeling.
As I traveled down the beautiful, open roads of the autostrada in my VW Golf convertible (still one of the larger vehicles on the road, and seriously? A convertible? Confusing…) That’s when the magic started to happen.
The fog lifted, the light began to change. First from velvet black to deep blue, then gray, then miraculously, the looming clouds parted. Sunshine began to leak though, warming my face, lighting a fire in my heart. I indulged in some wicked-bad Italian pop on the radio, broken by equally disturbing American disco selections. By the time I reached the local streets of the Langhe, the radio was inconsequential- there was a full-on chorus of screaming angels in my head. The sunshine was piercing, lighting up the hillsides, electrifying the vineyards. Row after row of perfect organic sculpture. There is so much emotion here in this place!
If you have not traversed the hillsides of the Langhe, no matter how beautiful, how gut-wrenchingly poetic you think this place might be, you still have absolutely no idea. There is magic here- alchemy of the most ancient origin. The Langhe is a beautiful woman, full of luscious curves and ancient mystique. Every turn, each switchback holds another miraculous vista. You are cocooned in vineyards, wrapped in the uneven, rolling, patchwork quilt of her magic.
As the car climbed higher into the hills I began to see the road signs naming the birthplaces of old friends. Barolo. Annunziata. Rocche. Cuneo. Dogliani. I found myself grinning like a crazy person- giggling to myself alone in the car. Borgogno. Damilano. Mascarello. Scavino. Cogno. Gagliasso. Brezza. Pure delight and elation.
What a welcome. What a beautiful, Technicolor welcome.