Dante Alighieri • Sassicaia
Did you know?
Abraham Lincoln asked Italian patriot General Giuseppe Garibaldi to serve as a general with the Union Army during the Civil War. Garibaldi, who lived in the U.S. for four years and applied for citizenship, declined the honor primarily because of his desire to serve as commander of the Union forces, which the Constitution forbid. Garibaldi’s talents were needed to unify Italy.
Dante Alighieri was Italy’s greatest poet and one of the most venerated authors of Western civilization. Dante was born on 1 June 1265 in Florence, and his immortal and vastly popular Divina Commedia (Divine Comedy) is credited with standardizing the modern Italian language. In addition to authoring brilliant works, such as Inferno, the Purgatario, the Paradiso, and La Vita Nuova (The New Life), he also served as a soldier, doctor, pharmacist and political strategist. A few famous Dante lines: “Follow your own star.” “He listens well who takes notes.” “Remember tonight for it is the beginning of always.” “The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in times of great moral crises maintain their neutrality.” The famous poet died in Ravenna on 14 September 1321.
Sovramagnificentissimamente: in a very magnificent way. Dante invented the word in his “De Vulgari Eloquentia” written in 1303 and it is not used often today. It has 27 letters. Trivia: Years and numbers in Italian are spelled without spaces or commas so the words easily become quite long. For example, the number 7,777,777 is settemilliardisettecentosettantasettemilasettecentosettantasette which has 64 letters. Try to say that word 10 times fast—or even one time slowly!
Place to visit
Bolgheri, a pictorial hamlet which is characteristically Tuscan. Famous Italian poet Giosuè Carducci, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1906, lived here from 1838-1848. In Carducci’s poem “Davanti San Guido”, the poet immortalized Bolgheri’s main viale (drive) lined with towering cypress trees. Mario and Nicolò Incisa della Rocchetta put Bolgheri on the map again with their acclaimed super Tuscan red Sassicaia. Andy Hampsten, the only American biker to win the prestigious Giro d’Italia (also placed fourth in the Tour de France twice and won the Tour of Switzerland twice) moved to Bolgheri where he and his wife Linda have lived since 1996. Andy and his brother Steve run Cinghiale Cycling Tours in the heart of Tuscany’s bike riding country where they lead bike tours seven times a year. The nearby town of Castagneto Carducci is named after Giosuè Carducci.
Cucina Mediterranea Piazza Ugo 2/3, Bolgheri, Livorno 57020 tel. 0565.762173 (Closed Mondays). Creative Tuscan cooking at its best. A local favorite in the quaint town of Bolgheri, owner-chefs Omar Barsacchi and Jonathan D’Alessi prepare a feast that will please connoisseurs. Scrumptious courses such as pasta with shrimp and crayfish, fresh seafood and quail are prepared with great care. As a final indulgence, their specialty dessert is tortino di mele, an apple tort with gelati and an artistic burnt sugar design. Alfresco dining during spring and summer. Indulge with a bottle of Sassicaia!
Tombolo Talasso Resort (formerly Grand Hotel Tombolo)***** This five star resort is close to the Tyrrhenian Sea and only 7 miles from Bolgheri. La Regina Maria José, Italy’s last Queen, sojourned here with her children and with the deluxe spa, grottos and five thermal pools, Roman and Turkish spas, it’s easy to see why. Stay here and be pampered like royalty as well. Enjoy 200 meters of private beach. The hotel itself is set beyond sand dunes 50 meters from the sea. Recently acquired by the Antinori family, cousins to Marchese Nicolò. Via del Corallo 3, Marina di Castagneto Carducci, 57022 Italy. tel: 0565-74530 fax: 0565-744052
Tenuta San Guido. Bolgheri, Livorno. Most wine cognoscente consider Sassicaia to be one of the world’s great wines. Italy’s quintessential Cabernet Vintage after vintage Sassicaia proves to be extraordinary. Sassicaia is instantly recognizable because of its amazingly fine-grained tannins which are impeccably silky. Il Marchese Nicolò Incisa della Rocchetta (above) and his oenologist Giacomo Tachis are to be commended for their legendary Bolgheri reds!
Highly recommend coffee table book: “Sassicaia: The Original Super Tuscan” by Marco Fini.
We’ve all known for a long time that Sassicaia is out of this universe but now Sassicaia is the first vine in space. Tendril-grafts from the Sassicaia vineyard were launched into space on a Kayser Italia mission with Italian astronaut Roberto Vittori on 15 April 2005.
Twelve limited edition MiniSassicaia cars were produced in 2001 in collaboration with Mini Cooper, UKgarage of Milano and Gruppo Meregalli in honor of Sassicaia. This collector edition features an all leather interior with mahogany accents and a gigantic 1985 label decorates the car’s top in honor of this cherished vintage.
Italy Heralded Mauro Battocchi, former Consul General for Italy in San Francisco:
DOC DOP DOCG - Anybody Hungry?
Google received 17,000 patents when it purchased Motorola’s mobile phone business for a staggering 12.5 billion dollars. The ability to own an idea is central to a functioning capitalist system, as it incentives and rewards companies to research and develop new ideas and products without fear of being ripped off. The price tag on Google’s acquisition shows that Motorola was compensated for the value of their intellectual property. Good on them.
A similar system exists in the world of Italian food, as evidenced by DOC or DOP labels you might notice on products in your Italian import grocer. Much like intellectual property laws, this certification assures the consumer that the product is made by those allowed to make it. It’s the real thing from the real place. DOP stands for Denominazione di Origine Protetta (Protected Designation of Origin) and is applied to Italian gourmet foods such as Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, Prosciutto di Parma or Balsamico di Modena. DOC stands for Denominazione di Origine Controllata (Controlled Designation of Origin) and is applied to Italian wine.
When you buy an Italian product with those labels, you are buying the end result of hundreds of years of careful culinary perfection. Beyond solely guaranteeing the region from which the product comes, these labels also guarantee certain processes, specified standards and batch sizes.
Let’s examine one of the world’s favorite cheeses. The production of DOP Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese began in the 1200’s in the land between the Po River and Apennine Mountains. The milk cows are fed only grass grown in that place of origin, they are milked twice a day, and the milk is delivered to the cheese house within two hours after milking. There are no treatments or additives applied to the milk. A natural enzyme from the stomach of suckling calves is used in the process, which requires 600 liters of milk to make one wheel of Parmigiano-Reggiano! When you see DOP on your parm, you know you are getting a serious commitment to quality.
And why is DOP Prosciutto di Parma so good? The farmers feed the pigs whey refuse from the Parmigiano-Reggiano process, highlighting the remarkable efficiency and dedication to quality within the Italian farming ecosystem. Speaking of the farming ecosystem, did you know that in Emilia-Romagna, where Parmigiano-Reggiano is made, farmers can use wheels of cheese as collateral against bank debt? In this unconventional financial arrangement, the accruing value of the aging cheese acts as collateral against the compounding loan.
As far as DOC wine goes, this label assures that the grapes were grown in the right region, in select quantities and produced under strict standards. The highest standard DOCG (Controlled and Guaranteed Designation of Origin) is even guaranteed by the Italian government. Currently only 73 Italian wines enjoy this distinction. So next time you crack open a bottle of chianti, enjoy it with the knowledge that quality and tradition – the Italian brand in essence – are intact.