The Godfather is the greatest American movie ever made, according to my friend Peter Travers, the film critic at Rolling Stone. Better than Birth of a Nation, more significant than Citizen Kane; it’s the original American epic, or, as director Francis Ford Coppola called his creation, "the biggest home movie in history." But The Godfather is also what comes to mind first for many Americans (like Peter and me) when they think of the island of Sicily, the place where The Godfather and the Mafia both began.
There are many other things, to be sure, Sicilians would rather be famous for—such as their wines, which have shifted from simple commercial stuff to some seriously ambitious bottlings in recent years. Made from native grapes like Nero d’Avola and Carricante as well as non-natives like Syrah and Chardonnay, Sicilian wines, particularly those made from Nero d’Avola, have become fashionable lately because they offer great quality for the money. Indeed, the local wines have become a source of pride among Sicilians and a subject they’re happy to discuss—as much as The Godfather and the Mafia are not. Or so Peter and I learned during our Sicily tour.
Peter and I had been tasting wines from Sicily in the course of creating my book, Educating Peter (due out from Scribner this month), a chronicle of Peter’s oeonological transformation from wine tyro to would-be savant. Peter was particularly keen to visit Sicily not just because he liked the big, juicy Nero d’Avolas we tasted but also because of The Godfather.