La Bella Estate: a tour of the literature, wine and food of Cesare Pavese
La bella estate is literally translated as “the beautiful summer”, but according to Cesare Pavese, it is that stage in life in which everything has yet to happen, and is still far enough away that it seems small and easy to overcome.
La bella estate is the assumption by which the city sees itself as different than the country, without realizing that it is made from the same organisms.
La bella estate is a summer in which everything is on the verge of happening and, when it does finally happen, no one seems to realize, because they are too distracted by the anxiety of having something else, something more.
A beautiful summer, for us, includes a book by Pavese and a little wine. When a good book and a glass of wine go together, the feeling of finding yourself in an idyllic moment is priceless.
How can we achieve this? By planning a weekend in the Langhe region of Cuneo. From 29 June to 7 September, in Santo Stefano Belbo, the Cesare Pavese Foundation is hosting the Pavese Festival, the ideal opportunity to follow in the author’s footsteps and see the countryside through his eyes.
The tour begins at the Foundation’s offices, which, symbolically, are in the shape of a lighthouse. The headquarters contains some of Pavese’s personal items, including his eyeglasses and a copy of Dialogues with Leucò, on the first page of which the author wrote his last words: “I forgive everyone and ask everyone’s forgiveness. OK? Don’t gossip too much.”
The exhibit also includes letters that Pavese received, including several from Natalia Ginzburg and one from Elio Vittorini, which begins, “Dear Pavese, forgive my long silence, but I couldn’t reply to a letter like the one I received from you. Too strong and beautiful, too blinding.”
The second stop on the tour is the house where Pavese was born and lived until he was eight years old, when his father died. The family moved to Turin, but Pavese never forgot Santo Stefano: “My town consists of four shacks and a big puddle of mud, and in the middle is the main street where the children played. As I was ambitious, I wanted to travel the world, and once I arrived at the farthest corners, turn around and say in front of everyone: ‘You’ve never heard of those four shacks? Well, I come from there.’”
Another site that was especially dear to Pavese was the home of his friend, Nuto, which is the third and final stop on the tour. Pinolo Scaglione, a carpenter who specialized in pulpits and musical instruments, was one of the writer’s best friends, and the greatest custodian of his memory. He acquired his nickname, Nuto, when, one day, Pavese was surprised and happy to see him, and exclaimed in a loud voice, “Benvenuto!” He was also the primary source of inspiration for the writer. Locals who passed along the road leading to Canelli stopped to chat with Nuto, and unwittingly provided Pavese with ideas for his works.
Anyone who would like to continue to other sites that were important to the author of The Moon and the Bonfires can take advantage of other tours to supplement the guided tour offered by the Foundation. Their walking times vary, some take up to three hours, but are well marked, with water stops along the way, on a map created by the Municipality of Santo Stefano, and available at the Foundation’s offices.
Once you have immersed yourself in the atmosphere of Pavese, you cannot help but supplement it with an exploration of the wine and food of the area (by car, this time) stopping in Barolo, at the Terre da vino vineyard. Here you can sample many excellent wines, including some that are named after Pavese’s works.
La bella estate in this vineyard is a Moscato Passito with the aroma of honey and candied fruit, which can be enjoyed along with marbled cheeses such as Gorgonzola, aged for up to 90 days. The wine’s flavor is perfectly balanced, due to the lengthening of the maturation process for the grapes which are then refined for 12 months on the yeast, providing a pleasant experience for the palate.
The Moon and the Bonfires is represented by a Barbera d’Asti Superiore, which can be found in some top restaurants as a result of its unique and elegant flavor. Its grapes are grown in different micro-climates, leading to a more complex and interesting variety in its taste.
The magnificence of these wines is due to the care given to the grapes through their process of maturity – they are picked at the height of their flavor.
The wine cellars of Terre da Vino can be visited by appointment:
Telephone: +39 173 56 00 22
Tuesday through Friday
10:00am – 1:00pm, 2:30 – 6:30pm
Saturday and Sunday
10:00am – 1:00pm, 3:00 – 7:00pm
Closed Monday mornings
The Cesare Pavese Foundation can be reached at:
Piazza Confraternita, 1 – Santo Stefano Belbo
Telephone: +39 141 843730
Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday
10:00am – 1:00pm, 3:00 – 6:30pm
10:00am – 1:00pm
Closed on Mondays
For the schedule of events for the Pavese Festival, visit the site: