Tatyana and I are staying in a stone cottage on a wine farm called Azienda Agricola Caparsa (47 Via Caparsa), near Radda in Chianti. The owner, Paolo Cianferoni, is a dead ringer for Steven Spielberg if you take away the beard, and if you de-age Spielberg by ten years. Paolo told me yesterday that original Sideways author Rex Pickett stayed here some years back. So between Pickett, Spielberg and myself the place has a definite Hollywood aroma.
Paolo’s electric bolt fence is more or less dead center in this photo. You can’t see it all that clearly, I realize, but does that matter? It’s there, okay? I’m telling you.
I told Paolo that Tatyana and I were planning to hike over to Radda in Chianti, and so he pointed to a shortcut path through his vineyard. He then pointed to a metal gate at the top of a far-off incline. The gate was electrified, he said, to keep out deer and whatnot, but that I just needed to open it carefully and watch where I step.
So we got to the gate and I delicately opened it — no shock. Thinking I was in the clear, I stepped through and, being a bit sweaty and breath-starved, missed the fact that a thick, coiled, half-camoflauged wire was lying in the dirt three or four inches from the gate. My ankles touched it and suddenly I was James Cagney at the end of Angels With Dirty Faces. My body convulsed. I felt as if my kidneys had been punched by a guy with brass knuckles. The electric current was mild (i.e., high enough to dissuade animals without killing them), but it definitely rocked my attitude.
For a while there I felt like (a) a huge dumbass. I actually still feel this way.