When life gives you lemons, make limoncello!

Grandpa Mattera and Uncle Johnny

Every fall, my grandfather made wine from grapes he imported from Italy. The press still stands today in my cellar…after all, he made it from concrete!

A few years after Grandpa had passed, Uncle Johnny discovered that the wine in one of the barrels had turned to vinegar.

Sad, right? However, Uncle Johnny turned lemons into limoncello. Or, in this case, a different liquid.

Uncle Johnny sanitized some unique bottles that had white ceramic tops. He then filled them with the past-its-prime wine.

He set up a folding table on the sidewalk and put up a cardboard sign: Organic Wine Vinegar.

As you can guess, he sold every bottle!

As children grow up and move to bigger cities, there’s a sad trend of dying towns all over Italy.

San Michele in Teverina was on the brink of becoming one of those statistics.

However, a group of resourceful citizens looked at all those abandoned buildings and saw opportunity. Il Borgo Diffuso was born!

Not only did they transform vacant homes into welcoming tourist accommodations, they offer cooking classes, hiking adventures and horse riding lessons.

The entire community is involved…and revitalized with hope!

Here are a few more examples of that Italian spirit of perseverance:

  • Chef Aniello Galano (La Floreana, Serrara, Ischia) streamed live concerts from his restaurant. Until we can all return, we can at least listen to classic Neapolitan music with a breathtaking view.
  • Annalisa Pompeo took her cooking classes from Sicily to the world. Her online lessons have a twist: you order kits with all the ingredients (locally sourced, so she helps her local businesses) and Annalisa is your personal, virtual instructor.
  • A few times during 2020 and 2021, Italian restaurants could only have outdoor dining. In Naples, a café owner turned traffic barrier poles into little tables.

We, too, can make the best of a situation and to turn obstacles into opportunities. We just have to look for them. I’m sure you’ll find them!

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