It’s time folks!
UNESCO is putting together a new vote on the latest World Heritage sites, the best preservation technique the modern world has to offer. The chosen sites are being announced as I type this, but I’m sure all of you are wondering (including myself, honestly) what some of the significance behind these historical sites may be. And as one of my childish dreams (while I toil away with an AA degree in the service industry) is to one day work with UNESCO on these sites, I’ll be doing my own personal PR digging and pretending I’m some how a part of all of this grand occasion by doing a little research into the history of our new World Heritage Sites.
Most people have probably not heard of Piedmont, frankly, I being one of them. I have, however, heard of all of the peoples at one time being in control of this expansive Italian region. That being in a particular order: Celtic tribes, Romans, Burgundians, Goths, Byzantines, Lombards, Franks, Holy Roman Empire…sounds pretty familiar across Europe, no? And after all this confusion to claims, Piedmont eventually emerged as the Kingdom of Sardinia dating from the good ol’ Italian Renaissance to around the more modern 19th century. In fact, the region is no stranger to the heritage fame with the Palazzina di caccia of Stupinigi (save the jokes, please) being added to the listed, once belonging to the House of Savoy which acquired the kingdom in 1720AD.
But what Piedmont had been REALLY famous for was the booze. Or, in this case, a spectacular ability to make fantastic wine for loooong times. It was well known for its vines even in Ancient Roman times back when civilians guzzled wine like water with Pliny the Elder noting that the Piedmont region was the most favorable for growing. And that was back in 77BC, with about 2000 years in between, and Piedmont is still kickin’ the grapes with wrath. Again, when you consider how many various civilizations conquered (or re-conquered) the region, it’s a miracle the environment remained as relatively intact as it is today, especially since those dirty ancestor’s of ours loved to “salt the earth” whenever they didn’t feel like sharing.
Of related note to all this wino business was how strangely influential the grape was to the very essence of Italian culture, notably, the Italian Unification which is the whole gosh darn reason we have an Italy today. Ever heard of Giuseppe Garibaldi? The name should ring a bell, but if not, he was that dude who kicked the shit all over the world as well as personally super gluing the various Italian states together with his fantastic beard. Well, he was also a big-time winemaker who introduced the happy science French mixture to help protect the area’s vineyards. Because if there is one thing France was actually any good at defending…it was the wine. And, reminiscent of the elementary school tales of the American Revolutionary War where we all learned that Bostonians got super bloody peeved when their Earl Grey got taxed, the Austrians decided to double the tariffs of the Piemontese wine with predictable results which sort of kick-started the whole independence thing in the first place.
So, it makes sense that UNESCO would name the Vineyards of Piedmont, Italy as a World Heritage Site, an area that includes 5 wine-growing areas and the Castle of Cavour for good measure. Now we all have an excuse to go all Bacchus on this news, right?