The Romance of Loro Cuiffenna

By Jheri

     Italy is cradled by the Alps in the north, Sicily and the Ionian Sea on the south, the Ligurian and Tyrrhenian seas on the west, and the Adriatic Sea on the east, and then peppered with islands all about. This diversity of geography echoes a diverse history beginning in 200 B.C. when the Etruscans were absorbed by the Romans. In the 5th and 6th centuries, Visigoths, Ostrogoths and Lombards formed Germanic kingdoms, which were disputed by the Byzantine Empire. Italy remained divided for over 1,000 years, during which time it pioneered the Renaissance, finally achieving unity and independence in 1861. During all these eons, the vineyards grew in Italy, producing the wine that soothed the spirit of this romantic region. Even its language is known as a Romance language.

     The Medieval town of Loro Cuiffenna lies about an hour southwest of Florence, Italy, in an region known as Tuscany. The soil of Tuscany is world-renowned, since the Middle Ages, as an important producer of olives, citrus and grapes. Grapevines wind their way around the hilly landscape of Loro Cuiffenna, named after the river through the town where Laguna Beach artist Mike England and his wife visited in 2003, staying at their friend and fellow artist Caroline Zimmerman’s home. Mike collected a fine dusty soil from vineyards in this important region. Its ancient fertility remains unquestioned and revered. This rural paradise was also the site of the soil collection for Common Ground 191’s Italy component. The Loro Cuiffenna River runs right by the Zimmerman home.

     Of course, Italy is much more than wine. It is Papal Rome, architecture, sculpture, art, fashion, sports cars, leather goods and tourism. And it is another country where the contrasts between conflict and romance have swung the pendulum of time for centuries. Italy’s soil adds much to the peaceful ideals of Common Ground 191.






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