Do Bianchi and please try not to curse (if possible)

Before heading to the first-ever meeting of the Unione dei Viticoltori Autentici in Gambellara (Vicenza), Alfonso and I stopped at our favorite bar in the village, the Trattoria al Passaggio for do bianchi — two little glasses of white wine.

If you’ve ever lived in the Veneto, you know that using the name of the Lord in vain is kind of like getting out of bed and going to work each morning. You may not want to, but you just have to.

I asked the owner if the sign below worked: “If possible, we ask that you do not curse [blasphemy].” He said it did…

There’s a long tradition of blasphemy in the Veneto, stretching back to the Venetian Republic’s historic political opposition to the Vatican. Today, although avoided in polite circles, blasphemy is used there — in some extreme cases — the same way American speakers of English might use a “crutch” expression like, you know.

Of course, the ancient notion of “cursing the gods” stretch back to antiquity and beyond. And every Italian region I’ve visited has its own colorful variations of blasphemy — always avoided like the plague in polite society.

I loved the qualifier of the owner’s admonition: if possible…

Probably not the case in a “company town” where the company in question happens to be Zonin…