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food / travel

How One Family's Wine Saved A Remote Italian Island

Making the sweet wine Passito is backbreaking work but has given Pantelleria, an island off the Tunisian coast, a new lease on life.

At the Donnafugata vineyard
At the Donnafugata vineyard
Flavia Amabile

PANTELLERIA — It's the first day of grape harvest on this remote Italian island. Biagio smiles as he picks grapes in the blistering heat. "Passito is the work of our sweat," he says, referring to the sweet straw wine that is putting Pantelleria back on the map. Despite the heat and the rough terrain, the sweet grapes here give life to a wine many seek to imitate but few are able to match.

Pantelleria, one of the most beautiful places in Italy, would have been abandoned long ago if not for the quality of its grapes and the hard work of pickers like Biagio. From fashion designer Giorgio Armani to French actress Carole Bouquet, people have come from all over Europe to seek refuge in this far-flung paradise in the Mediterranean Sea. Even though Pantelleria is beautiful, the island would have struggled to survive without the Passito grape and the dedication of one Sicilian family to grow it.

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Geopolitics

Russia's Military Failures Are Really About Its Soldiers

No doubt, strategic errors and corruption at the highest ranks in the Kremlin are partly to blame for the Russian military's stunning difficulties in Ukraine. But the roots run deeper, where the ordinary recruits come from, how they are exploited, how they react.

Army reserve soldiers go to Red Square to attend a Pioneer Induction ceremony

Anna Akage

To the great relief of Ukraine and the great surprise of the rest of the world, the Russian army — considered until February 24, the second strongest in the world — is now eminently beatable on the battlefield against Ukrainian forces operating with vastly inferior firepower.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

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After renouncing the original ambitions to take Kyiv and unseat the Ukrainian government, the focus turned to the southeastern region of Donbas, where a would-be great battle on a scale comparable to World War II Soviet victories has turned into a quagmire peppered with laughable updates by Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov on TikTok.

The Russians have not managed to occupy a single significant Ukrainian city, except Kherson, which they partially destroyed and now find difficult to hold. Meanwhile, Ukrainian civilians are left to suffer the bombing of cities and villages from Lviv to Odessa, with looting, torture and assorted war crimes.

The reasons for both the poor performance and atrocities are many, and include deep-seated corruption and lack of professionalism up through the highest ranks, including Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, who had never served in the army, and arrived in his position only because of his loyalty to the No. 1 man in the Kremlin.

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