Above: Puglia senator Dario Stefàno (image via Dario Stefano’s official website).
Last week, Italian politician Dario Stefàno, senator from Puglia and member of Italy’s Left Ecology Freedom party, formally introduced a bill in the Italian parliament that would make “Wine History and Civilization” a mandatory subject in Italian public schools.
Together with a panel that included the Italian ampelographer and wine historian Attilio Scienza and enologist Riccardo Cotarella, Stefàno held a press conference in Rome on Thursday where he put forth his proposal and outlined a draft of legislation that would require students in Italian public schools to receive instruction in wine culture for at least one hour per week.
“There is no chapter of our country’s history,” said Stefàno in his prepared remarks (translation mine), “that does not include episodes linked to grape growing and wine. We need to begin to tell Italy’s story through the landmark events that have defined every important passage of history. The moment has arrived for Italy to include ‘Wine History and Civilization’ as a full-fledged and mandatory subject in our children’s basic educational curriculum. After surpassing France in a historic milestone, Italy is today the leading producer of wine in the world. The time has come to fill this cultural gap by teaching the country’s children about one of its defining characteristics. This is not a matter of expanding technical instruction in our trade schools, something that also needs to be promptly addressed. Instead, instruction devoted to the role of wine and grape growing in our country’s history will help to shape our cultural heritage and the education of future generations. There is no doubt that wine and grape growing are already ambassadors of our culture throughout the world. My hope is that we can launch a pilot program as early as next year in two or three regions of Italy and perhaps Puglia could be one of those.”
In his own remarks, Scienza addressed the evolving role of wine in Italian society today:
Italians “have lost the habit of serving wine at home,” he said (translation mine). “Young people around 15 years in age consume alcohol at least once a week but they do so outside the home. And their logic is that of having a good time. We need to bring wine back into our homes, into our schools, and into the core of Mediterranean culture because wine is not for getting drunk: It is the origin of our identity and our belonging. We need to bring wine back to being a beverage of the people. And beyond telling the story of wine as a significant element of our history, we need to convey the idea that wine is fundamental element of the peoples of the Mediterranean. Drinking should not be the source of physical gratification. It should be the source of cultural gratification. In the light of this, we need to reveal the history behind wine. We have stopped sharing this with our youth. Bringing this into our schools is a first step in a process that we need to continue to develop.”