I recently reviewed a great Piedmont book on Wine Pass: Piedmont – The Dream, the House, the Life, by Jesper Remo and Erik Bjorn.
The book is a wonderful overview of the region told in article-like stories of what makes Piedmont so special: its people, and the small businesses they run to keep tradition alive. It also offers great practical information on buying and renovating your dream house (Jesper is a house hunter in Piedmont).
The book captures the heart of Piedmont: essentially non-touristy, and not really interested in attracting them unless they’re interested in the high-quality products that come from this region.
I loved the images that the stories evoked. One that sticks in my mind is how a little old lady, the owner of a restaurant Jesper and Erik were visiting, was late to their appointment. The reason for this was because she was getting her hair perfectly coiffed in honor of their visit. Arriving some time later, she coyly told them “something important” had come up, ignorant of the fact that her daughter had already told Jesper and Erik where she was! This simple story shows how much pride the Piedmontese take in their life’s work, and the care and attention they give to presenting what’s important to them. Yes, it is the bella figura in action, but it’s more than just making a good impression: it is presenting what she was proud of in the right light, all aspects covered.
Throughout the book, I also appreciated Jesper’s and Erik’s points of view. Their self-awareness in observations captures the sense of being an outsider, invited in. It reminded me of what I take for granted now, after living in Italy for six years. And apparently, Danes are similar to Americans in some aspects of our outlook on life:
Nobody watches the clock and nobody gets irritated if the restaurant is busy and you have to wait five or ten minutes more for the food to arrive. It is simply part of the lifestyle. We Danes could learn something from this…Food [for us] has to be taken on board fast…And it should preferably be cheap. For a Piedmontese, it’s all the other way round. Good food deserves time and respect. And it definitely doesn’t have to be cheap—what is important is that it is good.