The biggest trullo in Alberobello has been turned into a museum, displaying the customs and tools of the residents. Besides the description of an oxen yoke, proudly exhibited above it, there was a laminated paper listing the various healing powers of the wine from Alberobello.

To treat rheumatoid arthritis, you drink hot wine with cooked sage. For toothache, you drink wine fermented with roasted peach kernel. And leprosy is gone before you know it after drinking wine in which an adder is drowned and subsequently beaten to a pulp.

For the wine makers from Alberobello, this information was gospel – for us nonsense. Nowadays, we leave attributing miraculous qualities to wine to the enologist, who can only access a meagre pallet of cedarwood, eucalyptus and red fruit.

The allegedly healing power of wine immediately reminded me of the shambala drops of Giel Beelen, the guru cum DJ. A concoction of plant extracts that would supposedly help you fulfil a deeper mission. Both drinks bear the promise of a quick fix: discover your inner guru, cure your joint pain.

Modern medicine too is full of supposed quick fixes. The idea that there is an immediate solution for your illness, with no side effects or complications. Sometimes they exist, or almost, such as fixing a pulled elbow or fragmenting a kidney stone. But often a solution requires effort from both doctor and patient.

A quick fix also underlines the superficial and fleeting relationship between doctor and patient. But it would be better to change this perspective to a bond between doctor and patient, whereby the doctor is not merely someone who treats, and the patient is the person being treated, but a joint effort to optimally help the patient. It recognises the patient as a person and intellect. Besides praise for the doctor, also deference for the patient. Human work becomes human work again.

Much nicer, don’t you think? I looked at the yoke again, then at a milk churn. Alberobello suddenly looked ridiculous. We packed up and left.


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