“Getting confused for a Georgian makes me happy”
29 August, 2015
“Getting confused for a Georgian makes me happy”
“Salute Racha!” - Meet Salvatore, an Italian in love with Racha

This is the eleventh time Salvatore Filippone spends the summer season in the Georgian villageof Nikortsminda, hosted by Ucha Purtskhvanidze’s family. This Italian’s relationship with Georgia – and Racha, one of its most beautiful regions – began when he became friends with Georgian immigrants who came to his native Calabria:

“The way I feel whenever I am in Nikortsminda cannot be described with ordinary words”


– My visits to
Georgia start with coming to Tbilisi and later leaving for Racha. The only thing this region lacks is a coast, but its stunning landscape, crispy clean air and purely natural food more than compensate for that. The way I feel whenever I am in Nikortsminda cannot be described with ordinary words. As for local sights, Georgians definitely have the bragging rights when it comes to the amount and uniqueness of their religious landmarks.

I have many friends in Georgia already. While I can’t speak Georgian, I can understand what they say by gestures and body language. I like your cuisine, too; you use many greens and spices. I also love the fact that the tradition of baking bread wasn’t lost in local families. It always reminds me of my mother baking bread for me in my childhood – a memory that never fails to warm my heart.

Relations between people in Georgia resemble those in Italy 50 years ago. Therefore, whenever I come here, I feel 50 years younger. I like many Georgian social rules and customs, especially the family-related ones; parents are revered here. Also whenever local youths see an elderly person, they always make way and yield seats to him or her. Such behavior has been lost in Italy, sadly.

“Italians and Georgians resemble each other both in looks and character. We both are emotional and fond of talking with our hands. When I am in Tbilisi, people often ask me for directions. This means that I am getting confused for a Georgian, which makes me very happy. “
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“The only thing Racha lacks is a coast, but its stunning landscape, crispy clean air and purely natural food more than compensate for that.”


– They say Georgians and Italians have a lot in common. Is it true?

– It is. Italians and Georgians resemble each other both in looks and character. We both are emotional and fond of talking with our hands. When I am in Tbilisi, people often ask me for directions. This means that I am getting confused for a Georgian, which makes me very happy.

Your songs are very melodic, and one of your folk dances reminds me of our tarantella. However, I am not very fond of Georgian tradition related to funerals; I just don’t get the point of feasting to mark a person’s passing… I was told that Georgian weddings are beautiful, although I have yet to attend one.

“I also love the fact that the tradition of baking bread wasn’t lost in local families.”

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“Unlike Georgians, we do not drink a lot; one can sip on a single wineglass for the entire meal."

– You have no doubt sampled our wine already. What are your impressions?

– Ah, you can’t surprise an Italian with wine. We have many different methods of making wine - for example, I let grapes through a wine press, let the paste stand for three days and then squeeze it out with another press. I throw the pomace out, leaving only the juice. I do not add water or a single gram of sugar. Moreover, I even use wine to wash the bottles I am going to use so that not a drop of water ends up inside. We pour the wine into bottles after the New Year’s Eve; until then, it stands in casks that we plug with special corks that ensure that nothing interrupts the fermentation process. At the moment, I own wines from 30 to 40 years old.

As for toasting, long toasts are largely a Northern Italian custom. Where I am from, we just say “Salute” and drink. Unlike Georgians, we do not drink a lot; one can sip on a single wineglass for the entire meal.


Nikortsminda
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Author: Eka Salaghaia
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