Urban aperitif with Davide Scaravilli, who returned from New York to the Nebrodi mountains, in Sicily, to work on the family farm and lead a revolution. Agricultural and cultural.
I still remember our first meeting, in Cesarò , a small village hanging on the Nebrodi mountains, a natural hinge that unites the smoky and rocky sides of Etna with the rest of the island. Up there, the hill and the volcano, with its puffs and rich lands, ensure sun, wind, minerals and nourishment for the olive trees of the Virzì farm.
This time we will see you in Catania, in a historic bar overlooking Piazza Duomo, in front of the trunk of "u Liotru", as the elephant statue in black basalt is called in these parts, considered the emblem of the city. There are only a few days left until the harvest, and despite the cheerful and light chatter that surrounds us, Davide Scaravilli, a jurist by training and heir to the centuries-old knowledge that the Virzì family handed down from generation to generation, is tense. "We expect a very good year, but the danger is around the corner, a hailstorm is enough to ruin the harvest".
History of an unexpected trajectory, his. Studies in law, masters at Columbia University , New York, David's fate seemed already written. Then suddenly, walking among the skyscrapers of the Big Apple, Davide feels something move inside. A sudden and violent eruption of emotions, memories and dreams overwhelms him, he realizes that his path would not have been so clear. "At a certain point I felt the irresistible call of Etna. I missed it so much. It was a difficult moment, of great reflection, also because, in the meantime, I had received important job offers. At that moment I realized that mine road would have been to carry on my grandparents' farm, that my life would have been there, on the Nebrodi mountains, in that land and among those olive trees where I grew up. "A detour on the dirt road, I think." Yes, and risky. But do you want to put satisfaction? "
Davide is a volcano of very clear ideas: "the company is in an important moment, we are investing a lot, soon we will also build the oil mill to have control of the entire supply chain, it is the key to obtaining a perfect product ". Since he decided to devote himself to the company, he has already revolutionized processes and products ":" after a long test phase, we decided to filter the oil. In the medium to long term, it keeps better. And the quality is not lost at all because we anticipate the harvest in order to guarantee the same flavors and aromas ".
On social media he describes himself as a “professional on the move to promote the cultural revolution of the agri-food sector", I'm curious. " To make the agricultural revolution, you must first of all trigger a cultural revolution . As long as people associate the farmer with the poor farmer with the hoe, young people will continue to snub the land. We must convey the message that agriculture, despite the difficulties, is a beautiful sector in which to work, on which to innovate and from which great satisfactions, including economic ones, can be obtained. It's a question of reputation, and we must all work together to make it change. It is our biggest challenge: we will only win it if we learn to network. The north, with the large consortia, such as that of Parmigiano Reggiano, has set the stage ".
I am distracted by exotic voices and faces, a group of tourists sits next to us. "For some time now we have seen Asians, especially Japanese, in Catania. Slowly, something is changing. We have to work as a team and enhance the unexpressed potential of our territory, starting with tourism and agriculture". We choose the wine, Nero d'Avola. Davide points out to me that, even on oil, the same process of product enhancement can be followed that wine has already done successfully: " oil has a great opportunity. And then it is healthier, more democratic and just as sophisticated ".
I would sit and listen to Davide for hours, but it is evening, we must say goodbye.
As I go upstream the cheerful and undisciplined river of people that floods Via Etnea, the main artery of the city, I think back to our conversation. And I understand life is a matter of trajectories. There are those who choose the straight and safe ones and those, like Davide, prefer the bumpy and uncertain ones, the dust of the dirt road, the thrill of unexpected views and boundless horizons. I understand that driving straight leads to sleepiness and that real life is made up of sharp detours, sharp turns, broken roads. Of dust and surprises.
Whoever has the courage to take the dirt road truly lives.