Italy

While I was living in Bologna, I discovered a fantastic sweet fruity wine called a Romagna Cagnina (more specifically, a bottle of Terre Cevico Cagnina Dolce DOC). When I was living in Bologna, I discovered a fantastic sweet fruity wine called a Romagna Cagnina (more specifically, a bottle of Terre Cevico Cagnina Dolce DOC). While visiting nearby Ravenna and delving into its Byzantine history, I discovered an intriguing connection between the region’s wine and stonecutters and laborers from Istria. The grape variety used in the wine might have been brought to Ravenna by these workers, who also used Istrian stone in the construction of the city’s monuments. Here is a small excerpt from a webpage advertising the wine:

This wine has been talked about since the Byzantine era when the first vines arrived from Istria during the importation of limestone for the construction of churches, baptisteries and historical monuments of the Ravenna area. The name appears to derive from the slightly harsh characteristics of this ancient grape variety, as it was said to “bite the palate”.

A longer description about the wine can be found here.

An in-depth analysis of the floodings in Emilia-Romagna this year has been conducted by Corriere della Sera. The article provides useful information on the region’s structural problems that have worsened the floodings. Here are two interesting excerpts from the article:

La Romagna una volta era una palude, poi è stata bonificata e sulla ex palude si è costruito lo sviluppo. Dagli anni ‘40 in poi ogni metro quadrato si è trasformato in attività agricola, allevamenti, capannoni e abitazioni.

Negli anni ‘90 arriva la spinta federalista […] Il risultato è che se una Regione, per evitare allagamenti, deve rompere un argine che sta su un confine, l’altra Regione si oppone perché ritiene che i suoi campi siano più utili di quelli della Regione adiacente.

This article from the Financial Times provides some funny criticisms on the “invention” of Italian food traditions based on the work of Alberto Grandi. The article also points out a link with food and nationalistic politics:

Today, Italian food is as much a leitmotif for rightwing politicians as beautiful young women and football were in the Berlusconi era. As part of her election campaign in 2022, prime minister Giorgia Meloni posted a TikTok video in which an old lady taught her how to seal tortellini parcels by hand. This month, Meloni’s minister of agriculture, Francesco Lollobrigida, suggested establishing a task force to monitor quality standards in Italian restaurants around the world. He fears that chefs may get recipes wrong, or use ingredients that aren’t Italian. (Officially listed “traditional food products” now number a staggering 4,820.)

This article from an Italian newspaper gives a good analysis of the dilemmas presented by the idealized and romanticized images of Italy that foreigners post on social media.