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The Cantina Fratelli Pardi is located alongside the Montefalco city walls, a short 20 minute drive from the villa. Over the past three years we have developed a deep friendship with the Pardis, taking numerous groups to visit the winery and to share lunch with Alberto and Linda, their sons Albertino and Gianluca and the inimitable Augusta Pardi. In addition, we have enjoyed their company at our villa and visited with Albertino on his business trips to the U.S.
Warmly welcomed by the Pardis on our very first visit, our friendship with them has grown and deepened over the years, and as we arrived at their ochre colored cantina emblazoned with the silhouette of a falcon holding a bunch of grapes and the words "Cantina Fratelli Pardi," we were greeted with much cheek kissing, firm embraces and kind words of welcome. This is a ritual in Italy, but rather than an empty gesture, a Pardi greeting is underscored with a true warmth and kindness. Our group, none of whom had previously met the family and some of whom were novices to Umbrian wine were immediately welcomed and made to feel at home. That is the Pardi way. Conversations erupted in Italian and English, with a vigorous Spanish one going on between Linda, who is originally from South America and one of her relatives who was joining us for the afternoon and Rich, our chef friend from New York, who happens to be a fluent Spanish speaker. The various linguistic centers of buzz gave a powerful energy to the large reception hall where tables had been set up for our wine tasting and lunch.
|Augusta and Albertino Pardi|
After lunch, which was capped off with a glass of the Pardi Sagrantino Passito, a softly sweet, slightly thick wine made in the traditional manner from the area's famous sagrantino grape, Alberto led the group on a tour of the winery, explaining each step of the wine making process, from the harvesting of the grapes to the bottling of their award winning vintage. We have been on dozens of similar tours at the area's wineries, but this one stood out due to Alberto's obvious passion for his wine and the territory. At every turn he would tell a story about how the family's obsessive pursuit of quality had driven the process. It was obvious in every sip we tasted but it was obvious, too, in the words that he was telling us.
Nearly four hours after we had arrived, we were done with lunch, wine tasting, touring and, of course, buying a few cases of wine so we could relive the experience back at the villa. And it was on to the family's tessitura, or linen factory, in nearby Bastardo (the sign to the town is perhaps the area's most photographed attraction) for a tour of the looms and, perhaps, to buy a few souvenirs.
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We arrived just before the looms were being shut down for the day, our schedule having slipped from our long lunch and lingering with the family at the cantina, but Augusta kept the facility open for us so we could see the machinery working and understand how these fine fabrics are born. The main fabrication area, an enormous room with dozens of clanking machines, each the size of a dining room table, was a whir of activity. Spools of threads unrolled as strands were woven into the nascent fabric by the clanging back and forth of shuttles, while control rods opened and closed hundreds of stitches, the whole process controlled by yards-long stacks of punchcards, the holes in each of which directed stitches to be held or dropped. Meanwhile, emerging one thread at a time from the end of the loom, beautiful jaquard patterns made from luxurious silks, cottons and linens were being rolled into bolts of fabric, with intricate lace patterns or embossed designs like bees, seashells and the like woven into them. Augusta tried her best to explain the operation of the various machines, but given the incredible complexity of the machinery and the roar of their work, we satsified ourselves with taking away the mystery of it all unsolved.
The symbol of the Cantina Fratelli Pardi is the silhouette of a falcon. The symbol of the tessitura is a shuttle, which contains the bobbin used in the loom. But the symbol for the Pardi family itself should surely be a pair of outstretched arms, for the welcoming embrace they give to all gives a comfort and joy that is truly unique and special.
Bill and Suzy