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The Bradley Dance Ac Group

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David Thomas
David Thomas

Vine Mafia

Michael Franzese could have chosen a vineyard from any region in the world to produce a wine bold enough to bear his name. He chose the Ararat region of Armenia, the oldest recorded wine producing region in the world. The wine is a unique blend that seeks to express the courageous history of the land from which it is harvested and the fascinating life story of the man whose name it bears.

Vine Mafia


In addition to hiking, swimming and boating, Cinisi has much to offer to gourmands who appreciate Sicilian cuisine and the island's flourishing wine industry. Old style Sicilian hospitality was offered during a picnic lunch of mozzarella, cheeses and salami at the Tenute Inghilleri whose lady owner Maria Grazia Inghilleri cultivates some 50 hectares of vines, producing both Chardonnay and the fierce red vintage Nero d'Avola.

The count has introduced other innovations in wine production. "My father used pesticides but now we are totally organic. You need time and a lot of passion to make wine. Every morning I get up at 5 a.m. to look at the vines. Organic agriculture needs your presence every day."

Nocera Tirinese is a tiny town set out on the tip of a promontory and flanked by deep ravines on either side. As we were driving up the narrow switchback to the town we stopped for a photo. An elderly woman in traditional black dress carrying a large cardboard box balanced on her head stopped to chat. After we exchanged pleasantries she ambled on her way. We decided she wasn't 'ndrangheta.

The property, which includes the sheep pen where imprisoned mafia chief Toto Riina once hid out, has been transformed into a rustic bed-and-breakfast in the heart of western Sicily and given a new name, the "Lands of Corleone".

It forms part of a list of former mafia assets seized by Italian authorities and recently turned into holiday spots, vineyards or olive oil factories, giving new life to lands tainted by violence and crime.

Consider another project some 20 kilometres (12.5 miles) down the road, where a sign reading "mafia-seized asset" greets clients of the "I Cento Passi" winery - named for a 2002 movie on the mafia killing of journalist Peppino Impastato.

"We are right outside of Corleone, and this fully planted vineyard proves that, starting out from nothing, we can produce excellence, a vine offering its most refined varieties," Francesco Galante of the Libera association said.

Police have long been allowed to seize assets from mafia members or businessmen with ties to organised crime simply on the basis of suspicion. But since 1996, such goods can be "reused for social aims".

"Their power flows from their ability to pay salaries to their accomplices and families, or to pay for their legal defence once they are in jail," said Rosolino Nasca, colonel at the local anti-mafia brigade. 041b061a72


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