Thursday, March 17, 2011

Italy at 150 Years - A Labor of Love

Photos and text ©Tom Hyland 

Today, Thursday, March 17 marks the 150th anniversary of the unification of Italy as a country. Given that I specialize in Italian wines in my writing and photography, I wanted to remind everyone of this and ask them to enjoy Italian wine and food today, tomorrow, the rest of the year and for as long as possible.

Many things have changed from 1861 to 2011 in Italy. Torino was the capital city back then - today, of course, it is Roma. The population in 1861 in Italy was 22 million; today that number has grown to 60 million. One hundred fifty years ago, life expectancy for men in Italy was 42, while it was 43 for women. Today, that number is 73 for men and 82 for women. *

But one thing that has not changed is the hard work put in by the Italian people. I view Italy largely through its wine industry, so I see the intensive work in the vineyards, from the pruning in the winter to the harvest in the fall. Today, there are all sorts of publications around the world that feature prose about the luxury and good life of enjoying the finest wines. I wonder how many of these writers have ever seen a harvest on a hillside under the brutal sun of Southern Italy.

So in my own little way, I'd like to celebrate this wonderful anniversary by praising all the people that make Italian wine possible, especially the workers in the vineyards. I have the luxury of traveling to Italy and drinking many great - as well as humble - wines (You'd be surprised how often I enjoy the latter more than the former); I often have the opportunity to taste these wines in some celebrated restaurants - as well as some lovely trattorie and osterie that offer more simple fare (again, the latter are often more enjoyable for me than the former). But if it weren't for these hearty souls who are in touch with their land and in love with nature, my job wouldn't be possible. Or at least, anywhere as enjoyable.

So let's all raise a glass to the vineyard workers in Italy that toil to bring us the most beautiful expressions of their territory. Population and technology change, but the love of farming the land never does. Here's to the next 150 years of these lovely Italian people giving the world their labors of love!

* Statistics are from a recent article in Corriere della Sera, one of Italy's greatest publications.

The Italian translation of this post can be found at my other blog, Learn Italian Wines.

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