Film touches heart and soul with humor and love
by, Eleanor Chornoboy
When I heard the movie Road to the Lemon Grove was being filmed in Sicily, I knew I had to go; and when it was said that one of the final scenes in the movie is a giant feast in a piazza, with a never-ending table of Sicilian delicacies, my mind flooded with memories and a desire to rekindle my youth.
You see, it was the 1960’s and I was in my hippie youth when I attended my very first Italian feast in a small village somewhat distant from the Youth Hostel where I was staying. A church with its steeple (Campanile) reaching for the clouds, overlooked the courtyard where local people were joined by hordes of visitors from all over Europe and North America. I was on sensory overload from the aroma of a roasting piglet turning on a spit, the taste of homemade cannoli, the sweet tang of espresso still lingering on my tongue, the music that made me dance with abandon, and the sound of conversation laced with joyous laughter that filled my heart.
Over the years, the image of walking about the Festival site with a gelato in hand, has revisited me time and again. Italy never stopped beckoning.
Since those early days, I have admired the ancient olive trees with their twisted trunks growing along the Calabrian roadsides.
While overlooking acres of vineyards and lemon groves in Tuscany, I commented to the chef/hostess of an Agriturismo where I stayed, that the local folks must feel like they are already in heaven. She nodded knowingly. Beauty and history is everywhere. At another Agriturismo in Sicily, I watched Mount Etna exhale wisps of smoke from its belly in the distance, and nearby, I strolled through the herb and vegetable garden featured on the evening’s menu.
I have had the luxury of tasting wine in Lombardy made from the Nebbiolo grapes, wines from Umbria, home to the red grape Sagrantino. I traversed the ski slopes of the Dolomites in Trentino, where I took leisurely lunches of braised lamb with polenta or an appetizer tray of olives, cheeses, and cold cuts on the sunny slopes overlooking toy-sized villages.
Wandering through Roman streets lined with fortress-like buildings, I could not help but wonder what stories they could tell about feasts, celebrations, and festivals in the local piazzas that they had witnessed for hundreds, even thousands, of years… if only they could talk. How many millions of travellers have experienced the excitement of encountering a feast in a piazza and been swept up by the exuberance of celebration steeped in history? No doubt, they have felt the same magnet of warmth, family and food that satiates any appetite and feeds the soul that I felt so long ago.
Over time, I’ve been at many festivals but none quite like an Italian Feast in a local piazza with all its food, music, kisses, laughter and full-bodied joy. I was there for the feast in the movie, The Road to the Lemon Grove, and once again I experienced that bone-deep awakening of the senses — the celebration of Italian culture, the love of food, family and friends… this is what the movie delivered and this is what the Italian culture has gifted me.
I feasted at the overflowing banquet table. I watched the children, breathless from chasing each other around the piazza and listened to the music and stories that have been told and retold. Reliving a feast that happened so long ago, gave me pause to reflect: Why is this feast and the Italian way of life so significant for me that I keep going back to Italy? The answer is simple. I long for La Dolce Vita (the good life).
Road to the Lemon Grove brought that good life back to me — a life of passion, celebration, culture, family and friends.
I raise a glass in celebration – may we all savor the importance of what is truly important.
Road to the Lemon Grove – Available – On Digital, On Demand, On DVD