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Wood Working: Compare, contrast: Some things remind you of home, others clearly do not

I guess it's not so amazing to discover that folks who live thousands of miles away share some of the same problems we have right here at home.

A quarter century ago, I watched our landlord in Tuscany cleaning the swimming pool. Suddenly the forests echoed with the clatter of rifle and shotgun fire.

"The war has begun," Aurelio Pellegrini told me. "Hunting season has started."

Pellegrini explained back then that fully one third of Italian adults bought hunting licenses to hunt, as he said, "little birds."

Such is not the case today.

Last month a much-older Pellegrini told us that young people in Italy no longer hunt. They don't have the time or the money.

And thus his huge estate is now overrun with wild boar and roebucks, who eat his chestnuts and mushrooms and root around and sometimes even threaten his beautiful swimming pool.

Does this sound familiar?

We assured Pellegrini that in Wisconsin fewer people, especially young folks, are hunting deer and so the sides of our highways are now clogged with dead and bloated whitetails.

Sad but true that folks everywhere don't have enough time on their hands to relax and smell the roses.

During the many times we have stayed at Pellegrini's estate, he talked about creating a golf course on his property, a beautiful site for such a project, considering there are only three golf courses in all of Tuscany.

He never mentioned a golf course in our last trip for the obvious reason golf takes too much time.

Nevertheless, our trip to Italy had its moments and revealed some curious things about the country and how it operates.

For instance, our foursome, made up of Kermit and Sharon Paulson, my wife Ruth and me, agreed with Sharon that we should try to tour a winery, seeing we were staying very close to the Chianti region.

Our tour books gave us pause, however when they said that some such tours cost as much as $200, for a tour and a taste.

Undaunted, we headed for a little town called Greve, center of the finest Chianti, the good stuff, not the stuff that comes in a bottle in a plastic basket suitable only for candle holders in graduate school apartments.

Kerm and I are small-town boys from Clayton and Whitehall respectively and we were looking forward to "going to town."

After maneuvering along incredibly awful roads (similar to those in Minnesota), we arrived in Greve and its crowded town square.

Kerm managed to squeeze our Peugeot station wagon into a crowded spot as four old men watched and smiled. When we got out of the car, we were told it was a disabled slot.

The old men chuckled.

So we reparked after which Kerm and I stood around as if we were in Clayton or Whitehall on a shopping spree, while Sharon and Ruth went to the tourist information office.

Suddenly five shiny red Lamborghini convertibles pulled into the square and parked in a no-parking zone.

No one complained, but raced to see the $150,000 per car wonders, much as Kerm and I might have rushed to see Olger Peterson's new '53 Chevy years ago. Someone explained it was Lamborghini's way of advertising its new models.

Ruth and Sharon returned.

What bad news did they bring? Would it be $200 for a sip of Chianti Classico and a mushroom hors d'oeuvre?

It was not to be.

Sharon and Ruth had found a very helpful tourist officer, who told them what we should do is take a tour of a winery just outside of town.

Tours were conducted at noon and 2 p.m. We were short on time, so the officer convinced the tour guide to begin her tour at 1 p.m. so we could get home before dark.

How much? "It's free," chorused our lovely wives.(Not even toilets are free in Italy)

We made our way to the Casa Vinicola Carpineta, a winery where we met our guide and two other tourists, a couple from Krakow, Poland.

She took us through the plant, saying Carpineta was a "medium-sized" winery, producing just over one million bottles of wine each year.

The winery was a spotless miracle of stainless steel and tile. We saw no one stomping grapes with their bare feet.

The tour over, we retired to a fancy tasting room, where we were all treated to six samples of their featured wine, plus a few sips of olive oil.

The wine was delicious.

We bought some to take home to supper at about $6 per bottle and waited for the axe to fall. So I came right out and asked her if they shipped cases to the States, thinking that must be their ploy.

"We do not," replied our guide.

If you wish to order we have a website in the U.S. and you can consult that when you arrive at home."

We're home now, so Kerm called a store in Minneapolis and found out that the cheapest Carpineta cost is $13.

So not everything is the same in Italy.

Dave would like to hear from you. Phone him at 715-426-9554.