Approaching his house on a rural road, I spot a sign at the entrance: “Qui vive un artista” (Here lives an artist). I should have a similar sign on my front door, I thought: “Don’t come in unless you are a free-thinker”. He is the famous Gino Donvito, his is waiting outside for us, greets us with warmth and invites us to visit his home/studio. His space gets my favors immediately. It’s completely far away from all the new Italian canons of decorating with blinding stark white, straight lines and cold atmosphere. Gino Donvito’s house reflects who he is, a warm person open to see in the deep horizons more than his little town allows.
His house comprises all his passions and arts. The ancient fireplace to keep him warm is not the center stage in his living room, where there is no focal point. The eyes can’t stop wondering, everything in his house has its own interest. Wood, stones and metals are the forever-harmonious elements that have attracted human beings and Gino’s house is abundant of them. He has used an old door for coffee table, old local plates and potteries decorate his fireplace, sculptures and furniture from the far East live together with Greek and classic sculptures, he turned an old train track device into a drawing table, designed a sofa after an Egyptian style settee, stained glass windows to allow the sun to dance with colors into the room and non-temperamental nature are all corollary to his art.
Gino Donvito started to paint at a young age and made an excellent living doing what his clients asked him to paint. He is a connoisseur and passionate about Medieval history and his paintings reflect that knowledge. One of his cards says:
“I love Emperor Frederic II, mate of crusade. His sword was the knowledge and Puglia his scabbard”. For many years Gino painted themes from the life of Emperor Frederic II ruling Puglia and most of the southern regions of Italy, his women and courtesans, religious images and even personages from Greek mythology, all on wood boards.
Gino lives and work in an uncontaminated nature immersed in the natural spirituality of the ravines and canyon of Puglia, where he surrounds his life and art with vineyards, olive and fruit trees. To celebrate the history of his beloved Emperor Frederic II he created its own wine in an ancient tufa stone quarry, the same cave used in the Byzantine time to build the castle of Gioia del Colle for Emperor Frederic II.
Gino Donvito’s wine with roots in a historic land is called Vino Tufara Donvito. It is a ruby-red wine, obtained by softly squeezing the grapes of Primitivo, Sangiovese and dark Muscat. The region of Puglia has been a great wine reservoir through history. Dante Alighieri in his verses described Puglia as “the land to sit on, where the sun turns into wine”.
Gino Donvito by taking care of his vineyard and his land also takes care of his soul. Now he is going through a new phase. He wants to return to his young age when he started to paint. He feels a rebirth and closer to the seeds of life.
One day, he looked at some fruit seeds, vegetables seeds and other seeds on a microscope and found a new world to venture in.
Olive branch is his signature doesn’t it tell you something? I feel like I have known him forever.
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Copyright © 2014 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved
I am writing a travel diary of my last trip to Puglia with an American group and sharing with all of you my notes of feeling, observations, food-wine tastes and experiences that will change people’s life traveling with me. The trips I organize are made for people who want to live it up in Puglia! Check out my books on
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