Year Abroad. Part 15: Careless Whisper

We were going to Erbusco. Our expectations were meagre, and we had but two: to see what we could see, and secondly, to drink some wine there. We achieved both, after a fashion.

In short, according to Wikipedia, ‘Erbusco is a commune in the province of Brescia, in Lombardy’, a region famed for wine production and in reach of Aix-en-Provence. In truth, we had no other information. The journey was planned and booked the night before with the sole aim of being completely ridiculous and open to a pleasant surprise, and, as it happens, we were surprised even earlier than expected because although Erbusco was the grail, we’d booked an Airbnb in Grumello del Monte, a town even less exciting. We set off late morning for some reason on the worst day possibly ever for Italian traffic. Deciding to drive via Torino, Genova and Milan on a Monday afternoon in a very Catholic country after the Easter weekend shows you exactly the foresight that went into this trip. Six hours on the road quickly became twelve, but this only gave rise to the first of many revelations.

Sebby’s Dad, a now middle-aged German man, at his prime in the 80s, had apparently passed his nights in the Berlin club scene, and his days indoors, glued to the radio, ready to press record on any hit that struck the airwaves. As a result, the glovebox was on fire with the heat from his mixtapes. Fanning it down we pulled “Pop Mix ‘92” from the ashes, and spent the weekend living in a blend of 80s rock and electronica before finishing it off with a five-man rendition of Careless Whisper.

Our Airbnb host never replied, so at midnight we booked into a hotel in Grumello before chasing our concierge to a restaurant, which was closing, linen folded. They stayed open for us, we tipped generously and apologised profusely. The town square was round and although this made corners difficult, it provided a perfect football pitch at 1am. The police drove past, unconcerned, Italian. At this point, after 11 bottles of wine, we went for a walk. We found a castle, we walked through a vineyard and then we slept soundly until the morning.

Coffee was a must before retracing last night’s steps in the light of day, as we searched futilely for a vineyard to do some tasting. Grumello explored we headed for Erbusco, a pretty housing estate with vined vistas and old streets. Giving up on authenticity, we left, and headed for a wine emporium. However, this took us through the heart of wine country and we found a whole estate come factory which far exceeded anything we’d hoped for. Bottles bought, we strolled the estate and gardens before stumbling across two goals on a hidden dress lawn at the bottom of a path where we kicked a ball before driving to a lake and eating a pizza as the sun went down.


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