A Midsummer Night’s Wild Dream

Collisioni – that’s what this mega-festival in the tiny hamlet of Barolo is called. And collide you do! With people, with ideas, with tastes, with energy. Talk about bringing things together.

Yours truly is finally here at Collisioni, Barolo, 2016

I’d heard about Collisioni for years. I’d viewed their over-stuffed programs with skepticism: how could they lure Elton John, Sting, Mark Knopfler to this teeny tiny village of the Langhe region? Not to mention all the Italian pop stars from Marco Mengoni to Fiorella Mannoia, from Alex Britti to Ligabue… and on and on. But after all, this is an ‘Agri-Rock’ Festival. No, I am not making this up!


Tastings are a part, but not the primary part, of this ‘happening’ as they say in Italian. It is the coming together. This is not a three-ring circus, because it’s got five rings: the piazza blu, piazza verde, piazza rosa, piazza rossa, and piazza gialla. Some of it’s music, some of it’s talk. And boy do Italians love to talk!

Faced with choices like these, all I could think was ‘Mamma mia! Where do I go next?’

Michel Houellebecq gives a reading at Collisioni

Do you go listen to last year’s Nobel Prize winner being interviewed by the head of Rai 3, the famous female journalist Daria Bignardi, or meet your rock idol, Ligabue, and listen to him talk about his foray into literature? Or do you go all pop culture and listen to Carlo Conti talk about what he’ll do at the next Sanremo Festival? Writers, thinkers, intellectuals, pop stars all convene in the green – because the message is ecological: sustainable everything.


Carlo Conti meets the crowd at Collisioni


You start at the castle, because after all, Barolo’s castle is its defining characteristic. During the days of Collisioni (this year July 14 – 18), there are actually some tastings going on in here. This is also home to the Wine Museum. So bottles line the walls, and people and glasses fill the tables to taste, sip, compare.




Oh, and by the way, did I mention that this entire area is protected by UNESCO? The Langhe and Roero areas as well as Monferrato are part of the World Heritage Sites.

Personally, I expected a whole lot more of Barolo-sipping than I actually saw or experienced. But hey! we can do that any time. Finding all these major personalities of the world of arts and ideas is what Collisioni is all about.

I did get to hear Antonio Galloni, formerly of Wine Advocate and more recently the author of Vinous, being interviewed by Vinitaly’s Ian D’Agata.

A highly professional moment…

But people were chilling… which was also nice.

Atmosphere, I guess that’s what you’d call it. Incredible atmosphere. Tangible culture. Good vibrations – the music, the wine, the surrounding countryside with its stretches of green grapevines growing… People sharing ideas, and opinions, and wine.

Kudos to Collisioni!

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