Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Suffering and Boozing

Take the cable car from Varallo up to the Sanctuary and you come to a Franciscan shrine to the suffering of Christ. There is a basilica surrounded by a little village of 'chapels' (around 40) each of which is home to a display of life-size painted terracotta figures depicting said suffering. And I have to say, the Catholics do good suffering. Christ in the Wilderness? There He is next to a lion which has a lamb in its jaws so that its intestines are spilling out all over the sand. Christ before Pontius Pilate? There He is, bleeding already. Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane? There He is racked by countless evil demons. Christ scourged? Christ before the crucifixion (thrice, lots of blood 'n' thorns), Christ during the crucifixion, Christ off the cross...Oh! The unrestrained joy of the Catholic church! How my heart leaps up in happiness! Fortunately there was a charming 1920s hotel with a conservatory restaurant where one could forget for a moment all the suffering and indulge in some don't-mess-with-me reds made mostly from nebbiolo (the barolo grape) which in this part of Piedmont produces wines with mouth-stripping tannins and not much subtlety, but which did the business nonetheless. After this particular pilgrimage, I must renew my membership to the Anglican Communion, despite the Welsh theologian.

7 comments:

Diplomat said...

Ah - marvelous stuff Ron. i recall some advice picked up from Giacomo about those heavy reds. His tip was to be sure to get a couple of stout shorts down you before lunch. I suppose he had in mind a digestif of some sort but around Mille Miglia time Moss, Hawthorn and I would settle for a very exotic Madeira washed down with a sturdy fruit cake. I think it was the cake that eased out the tannins.

Peter Ashley said...

This is great stuff. I've just had a London Porter with a Jacob's mint flavoured Club Biscuit. After two pints of Beacon with a bag of Mini Cheddars at the Fox 'n' Goose.

A F-A said...

JC of course was a practising Jew and, as I remember, wasn't actually agitating for a new Catholic Church headquartered in Rome. No, that movement came about, it is said, when some Italian guy realised that, if he took up this new Semitic religion, he would be forced to give up his beautiful Barolo and drink Kosher wine instead. Wrath of God or Kosher wine.....easy choice really: so, form a new Church in Rome, goodbye Goldstein, bring on Boglietti, make a good slurp at Mass a pleasure not a pain.
Jerusalem has fought back on the wine front - I see that there is a Kosher Barolo from Rashi - but seems unlikely to take the Vatican over......yet.

Fred Fibonacci said...

I'm getting a lot of tannin, me.

Peter Ashley said...

How come you've had a wild and excessive weelend with Fred and as yet no report has been forthcoming? Eh? Eh? You at the back there!

Peter Ashley said...

Or even 'weekend'?

Fred Fibonacci said...

Peter. You were right first time: weelend up in therapy after a weekend like that. I know I have. Lord knows what she'll dredge up. Ooh, she's very strict. Barman? Pass me another swallow-tailed butterfly, and one for yourself.