Armenia e Georgia (Orientale) in cinque e quattr’otto

Giorno #8_Sevan Davit Gareja & Sighnaghi, la Georgia Orientale.

Penultimo giorno di viaggio, ancora non stanchi di trotterellare in giro per il Caucaso. Le nostre riunioni serali ci trovavano impigliati nell’organizzare i giorni successivi nel miglior modo possibile, considerando tempi, costi, trasporti, andate, ritorni, must-sees, pericoli, intoppi, necessità, virtù. Per la Georgia il taglio era stato drammatico, ma necessario: nell’idea embrionale v’erano inseriti anche posti come Batumi, sul Mar Nero, o Kutaisi, ma la priorità fu data al sito di Davit Gareja, alla regione del Kakheti, culla vinicola georgiana, e alla misteriosa Kazbegi. Tutto ad est, insomma, l’ovest era stato solo rimandato. Ma di certo, da Tbilisi, l’est sembrava più alla portata.

Vano giunse sotto casa col suo Mercedes anni ’90, una botte di ferro ingombrante e rumorosa, ma che non ha saputo minimamente deluderci per due giorni, arrampicata ai pendii dei monti, fluttuante sui dissesti stradali. Qualche ora di viaggio, e ci ritrovammo di nuovo verso sud, di nuovo ai confini, ma questa volta spostati più a est. Non ci volle molto a dimenticarsi dei centri abitati, in breve, infatti, ci ritrovammo completamente inghiottiti da una desolata natura, con gli orizzonti a perdita d’occhio.

Sorprendente fu, a un certo punto, spuntare dal nulla il villaggio di Udabno, poco distante dalla nostra meta: un agglomerato di case prossime a baracche, che s’accucciavano l’un l’altra, giù in fondo a una vallata che il nostro Mercedes stava dominando.

Attraversato il villaggio, tempo qualche altra curva, eccoci giunti al sito di Davit Gareja, uno dei siti di maggior rilievo della Georgia, costituito in tutto da 15 monasteri disseminati in un’ampia area dall’aspetto lunare, e che, nei secoli, ha anch’essa ricevuto saccheggi e distruzioni da parte di incursioni nemiche, che ne hanno deteriorato l’unicità di luogo d’alto respiro culturale, dagli attacchi dei mongoli nel 1265 fino ad arrivare al periodo sovietico, dove la zona fu utilizzata per esercitazioni militari, e lasciata alla mercé dei vandali. Solo negli ultimi anni, un’attenta opera di restauro ha fatto sì che venissero abitati di nuovo.

Il Monastero di Lavra è decisamente quello più noto, disposto su tre piani di tre epoche diverse, protetto da una cinta muraria e una torre di controllo risalenti al XVIII secolo. Appena prima del monastero, poi, degli incavi nella pietra a mo’ di scale ci invitavano a salire.

Noi manco immaginavamo quanto sarebbe stata dura l’arrampicata, ma dopo circa mezz’ora passata a sfidare la gravità, ciò che si presentò ai nostri occhi aveva dell’incredibile: un’immensa vallata rocciosa che spingeva il nostro sguardo fino all’Azerbaijan, oltre a tutta una serie di chiese rupestri che raggiungerle era ai limiti dell’impossibile.

Con le membra stanche e i polpacci a pezzi, ci rimettemmo in cammino. Ci attendeva ancora qualche ora di auto prima di penetrare la regione del Kakheti. Per la strada, gli occhi si chiudevano, ma Vano seppe tenerci desti, fermandosi più volte al lato della carreggiata, dove spuntavano come funghi d’autunno venditori di frutta amatoriali, e facendo incetta di qualunque tipo di articolo. I nostri venditori per caso trasudavano povertà, e pesavano meloni in bilance d’occasione, o offrivano intere ceste di pesche e frutti di bosco. In pochi chilometri, avevamo il portabagagli strabordante, e da mangiare frutta per mesi.

Giungemmo infine in cima a una collina dove svettava fiero e abbarbicato il grazioso paesino di Sighnaghi, che vanta un gran numero edifici del XVIII e del XIX secolo, in uno stile distintamente italiano. Sighnaghi è sicuramente il più accogliente dei paesi della regione, che sta vivendo una repentina ristrutturazione, mantenendo integra la propria anima.

Inframezzo enologico.

Da queste parti, la tradizione vinicola è ancestrale. La nascita del vino si credeva fosse avvenuta in Grecia o a Roma, finché un gruppo di archeologi ha recentemente trovato, nel Kakheti, la cantina più antica del mondo, risalente a più di 6000 anni fa. Secondo gli archeobotanici, la successiva addomesticazione della vite farebbe degli antichi abitanti dell’odierna Georgia tra i più antichi vignaioli della storia. La restrizione imposta dalla Russia sulle importazioni vinicole del paese nel 2006 ha stimolato la produzione di vini più raffinati, con l’utilizzo di tecnologie moderne, destinati ai mercati europei e asiatici. Nel frattempo, il secolare metodo locale di fermentazione del vino nel qveri (grandi anfore sepolte nel terreno) è tuttora utilizzato per produrre vini abbastanza gradevoli ed economici. In un qveri, l’uva fermenta per circa sei mesi, e gli scarti si devolvono alla produzione di una deliziosa acquavite locale, la chacha.

 Circa 500 delle 2000 varietà di uva mondiali sono georgiane. Le più utilizzate sono le bianche Rkatsiteli e Mtsvane e la rossa Saperavi. Le cinque principali DOC del Kakheti sono Tsinandali, un bianco secco ricavato da uve Rkatsiteli mescolati con un 15-20% di Mtsvane; Mukuzani (rossi secchi di qualità da uve Saperavi), Kinduzmarauli (rossi secchi semidolci d’uva Saparevi); Akhasheni (rossi secchi d’uva Saparevi) e Napereuli (bianchi e rossi di uva Saparevi).

Il nostro giro a Sighnaghi fu purtroppo breve, causa maltempo incombente, ma avemmo tempo a sufficienza affinché Vano non ci facesse girare invano, e ci portò in uno sparuto casale perso nel verde, dove avemmo modo di visitare una cantina privata (privatissima!), con assaggi di vino e chacha a go-go che non sembrava voler volgere al termine, come a volerci convincere a comprare, ma già “all’olfatto” io m’ero già accaparrato il mio litro di bianco e mezzo litro di acquavite, rigorosamente serviti in bottiglie di plastica d’occasione.


Col capo da tutt’altra parte, ci rimettemmo sulla strada del ritorno. Doccia rapida e discesa, di nuovo, negli abissi di Tbilisi vecchia. Ennesima bottiglia di vino (questa volta, rosso), con un trio jazz attempato niente male in sottofondo. Poi, nanna, che Vano ci aveva ammonito, che il giorno dopo ci aspettavano ancora ore di macchina su a raggiungere altipiani immemori, affogare la vista in paesaggi remoti, sprofondarci capo a piedi tra storia e natura. Ci attendeva la mistica Kazbegi, in pratica, prima di un volo di ritorno.

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