My first book, Vino, published in 1980, was lauded by critics as a landmark in the literature of wine. Over the years as a free-lance writer based in Tuscany, my books and articles brought me recognition as “the world’s leading expert on Italian wines.”
That’s no longer true, if it ever was, because I’ve pointed my literary career in new directions. Recent works include a novel, Boccadoro, self-published in 2007. But my main efforts have been dedicated to two volumes of nonfiction, neither yet finished.
One, entitled Boso’s Tuscany, is the story of my quest for clues to the life and times of an ancestor named Boso, who in the tenth century was the margrave (head man) of Tuscia, the state in the Holy Roman Empire’s Kingdom of Italy that became Tuscany. This spirited tale of sleuthing in the shadows of the Dark Ages has won praise from friends, agents, and even publishers, one of whom feared that it might be too wonderfully wacky to become a bestseller.
The other still-untitled book is the account of my late-in-life venture of building a new home as a replica of a traditional stone farmhouse in Tuscany’s Maremma. The house, like the book, is in limbo, each roughly half done, because I need to sell my old house near Florence to finance remaining work on the new. The latest chapter is Halfway House.
I hope to finish both books, but considering the vagaries of mainstream publishing, I can’t be sure they’ll appear in print. They contain a major share of my best writing. That may sound like the vainglorious raving of an aging hack, but I’m determined to find an audience for them. After years of hesitation, I decided to establish a blog and call it Beyond Vino.
My reasons for moving beyond the world of wine are described in the first feature of the blog entitled: My Life in Wine: The Good, the Bad, and the Bubbly. There will be more—much more, I hope—including chapters and excerpts and bits and pieces of my writing over the years.
Beyond Vino will also take up current topics, such as gastronomy, travel, sports, history, and even a bit of art and culture, spiced with observations on the weird and wondrous ways of life in post-Berlusconi Italy. My aim is to open up the blog as a forum of sorts for an exchange of ideas with readers, whose stimulating comments and reasoned criticism will always be welcome.
My views have been shaped over half a century in Italy, living mainly in rustic paradises of Tuscany, where I’ve persevered as a skeptic with liberal leanings on social, political, and philosophical issues. Though I’ve been suspected or accused of being an angry old misanthrope, anarchist, infidel, rebel, cynic, and hedonist, the one label I readily accept is epicurean, in the classical sense. That is, as a follower of the Greek Epicurus, who, in the fourth century BC, espoused a philosophy based on the pursuit of pleasure—comprising fine dining and drinking, of course—while conceptualizing with astounding acumen the nature of the universe and how to live in it.