Last month it was harvest season for grapes, this is when it is time to pick the grapes off the vines so it can start to be turned into wine. I was fortunate enough that my school had asked if their were any volunteers that wanted to donate their time to helping a family outside of the city center, to harvest their grapes. I decided this was something that I really wanted to do so I went with a couple of new friends. I am so delighted that I went to help out because it is still one of my favorite days I have had in Perugia. The family lived on a beautiful big farm that over looked the enormous lake in Perugia. They had many different types of grape vines and had many animals on the farm. They had dogs that just gave birth to puppies, ducks, peacocks, and horses. We were able to play with the new puppies, we all wanted to take them home. After the tour of the farm, nonetheless we started picking the grapes; we filled buckets and buckets with grapes. We would first load up our own buckets of grapes and then dump them into a tractor to the move the grapes to a certain area. We were allowed to taste and try the grapes while picking which was very rewarding. About half way done we stopped to learn about how the wine was made, they taught us how the grapes sit in big barrels and how it first turns into juice. We got to try the juice before it turned into wine and then after during lunch we had some wine. Lunch was a four course home cooked meal. They food kept coming and it was delicious. The family that took us in treated like we were apart of their family, they were so kind and made so much food. It seemed as though it was never going to end. Then after lunch we went back to harvesting the grapes, I was working right along side with the grandfather; he was an older gentleman that was still helping the family tradition. The family and us volunteers work as a team and even though I cannot speak Italian I still felt welcomed and felt very involved.
By getting involved in the community it made me feel like I was a local. I did not just feel like I am a tourist and visitor. I felt like an Italian, because this is something that is ritual and a huge part of Italian culture. I am happy to say I was apart of that experience and apart of making Umbrian wine.
I will take away from this experience to always give back to the community and try to get involved. The more you get involved the more you are making that area your home. It is very rewarding to know, I helped this family. They are able to pick their grapes faster with us and will not have to be out in the fields as long because we helped.
A quote that Richard Slimbach said is “the first step in this journey is to venture outside our comfort zones and get involved directly and personally in the lives of others, especially those occupying the margins of society… to create respectful and mutually beneficial relationships,” I think that coming out of your comfort zone really is the first step in this whole journey abroad. I am a city girl but I ventured out to an Italian farm submerging myself in Italian culture, which I am not used too. I felt involved in the society of Perugia and would like to try to get involved this month with oil harvesting.