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Claudia Cardinale presents Farinet award in vineyard

The Farinet award, presented this year by Claudia Cardinale, goes to charitable causes


With elaborate ceremony in the world's smallest vineyard, the Italian actress Claudia Cardinale has presented the annual Farinet award to a representative of the Dalai Lama, the exiled spiritual leader of the Tibetan people.

In several respects, the award - worth SFr20,000 ($12,000) - is an unusual one. Presented every year to worthy causes, it is named after a Swiss folk hero and maker of counterfeit money who was shot dead by police in still controversial circumstances in 1880.

Farinet, often compared with Robin Hood, distributed his ill-gotten gains to needy people in Canton Valais, and was apparently hunted down not just because of his criminal activities, but also because the authorities were unhappy with his status as a champion of the people.

His grave is near where he was killed in Saillon, a small village surrounded by vineyards, one of which was handed over as a gift to the Dalai Lama two years ago. The vineyard has a surface area of 1.67 square metres, hardly big enough to produce wine.

But every year about 1,000 bottles of the canton's best wine are mixed with the tiny amount made from three vines in the Farinet vineyard and sold at auction. This year the proceeds will be spent on projects - especially schooling - to alleviate child poverty in India.

For the presentation ceremony, Cardinale was dressed in the hat and jacket worn by French actor Jean-Louis Barrault in a screen version of the Farinet story.

By tradition she also had to take three clippings from a vine plant, and the ceremony ended with her firing a gun in the direction of the cantonal capital, Sion - symbol of the forces of law which ended the life of Farinet.

by Richard Dawson


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