On the night of a ‘Chalice in the Village’ of Gavignano, the thousand or so summery visitors joined the citizens of Gavignano to climb up the winding road to the top in the square of the Baronial Palace, stopping on the short climb as dusk approaches to view across the expanse of the valley to Paliano about 12 kilometres away and the many other local towns encamped on the hillsides.

For the yet to be initiated, Gavignano sits on the spine of a body of rock. It climbs up the spine to find its head in the Baronial Palace. For those of us eager to begin the 12 stations of the Degustation, we behaved like normal Italians in a village square, increasing the volume of cross talk to a gentle cacophony.

Occupying its share of the square is a stage set up for the Italian Jazz Quartet of Patrizia Scascitelli, who set the night in motion as the town opens the gates for eager degustationists. For those, such as the energetic Mayor, Emiliano Datti, there is a special benefit for a small 5 Euro extra – ‘rhum e cigars’ – a tot of rum and a fine cigar – maybe you can buy two servings.

A wealth of common sense has been applied to this exercise of 12 stations by Mauro Campanello, the counsellor responsible for the evening of pleasure seeking, as it is all downhill all the way to the square of the Parish Church. Having purchased our receptacles for sustenance, a wine glass for ample servings and its memorial pocket holder, we commenced down the ‘Percorso Eno-Gastronomico’ accepting the challenge of sipping and tasting ‘vini e sapori nostrani’ – the local wines and tasty foods.

As we drift downhill counting our pleasures, the sounds of the jazz climbs into the sky and about half way through the challenge we arrive at the open space of the church and seek a stair to rest on. Surrounding us are degustation stalls to attract the interests of a sommelier and the many enthusiastic ‘eno-philiacs’. With a glass from a local vineyard in hand, the first sounds of a ‘band’ strike up from the far corner of the square.

There is a motley portfolio of instruments that give identify the group as a folk or local jazz group, and they all wear black T shirts with PGF printed in white, (maybe not Professional Golf Federation) but the Parquaria Folk Group (Parquaria Gruppo Folk). To appreciate the wonderful sonance and dissonance of this group, playing Ciociarian ‘tunes’ to a rhythm that must come from Beelzebub.

You must be there – and it was with great pleasure that we fulfilled our degustational responsibilities, and as the limbs loosened, some even danced the Saltarello, a local dance with no specific regime for the limbs, but one in which the body responds with freedom to the beat and notes of the band, and some can even do it in couples.

Maybe the next year will pass more quickly till we can once again we dive in at the deep end for the ‘Calici nel Borgo’. Thanks Gavignano.

Photo by Fernando Conti