From the department of “I hate to be a bummer the week before Christmas but”…
The photo above was published yesterday on social media by one of Italy’s leading wine professionals in a post that generated scores of comments, mostly authored by high-profile wine tradespeople who condemned and repudiated its sentiment.
Brown-colored signs like this one are part of Italy’s officially sanctioned cultural heritage system. They are used for historically significant sites like churches or works of art — the so-called segnaletica monumentale.
In this sign, posted to mark the township of Pontoglio (in Brescia province, in the region of Lombardy, not far from Milan, roughly 7,000 inhabitants according to its Wiki), the panel at the bottom reads as follows (translation mine):
“A Western-culture village with deep-rooted Christian traditions. Anyone who does not intend to respect local culture and traditions is invited to leave.”
I’ll let the reader infer whatever meaning she/her likes from this text.
But it’s abundantly clear that non-Westerners and non-Christians are not welcome in Pontoglio.
It’s an expression of life in Italy that many Americans don’t notice when they visit wine country there. But sadly, however extreme the sentiment that inspired this particular sign, cultural insensitivity like this is not uncommon there, especially in the north.
Pontoglio literally means bridge on the river Oglio. The Oglio river is one of the boundaries of the Franciacorta DOCG. The Franciacorta consortium has been one of my clients in 2015 and I travel there often.
I wonder how the residents of Pontoglio would feel about a Jewish-American wine blogger visiting their town…
I plan to find out next year when I return to Franciacorta and will report back.
But in the meantime, I wanted to write a note about the Facebook post because I applaud the Italian wine community for its repudiation of the racial and religious profiling that is becoming increasingly common and bold in Italy today.
It’s one of the ways that the wine community can and does make the world a better place.
I stand in absolute solidarity with the two wine professionals who posted this on their Facebooks.
Sorry to be a bummer the week before Christmas (which I will be celebrating in southeast Texas with my family). But I felt it was important to share this here today.