The Romance of Loro Cuiffenna
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.