Luigi Veronelli

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Luigi Veronelli (center) with Italian sommeliers (2003)

Luigi Veronelli (February 2, 1926 in Milan – November 29, 2004 in Bergamo) was an Italian gastronome, wine critic and intellectual. He is remembered as one of the central figures in the appreciation and promotion of Italy's gastronomic heritage. Veronelli was the first to express views that would later achieve general currency and the protagonist in battles for the preservation of diversity in the fields of agriculture and food production. To this end he contributed to the development of Italian appellations of origin, fought alongside local administrations and offered his support to retail producers.

Background[edit]

Veronelli was originally from the neighborhood of Isola in Milan. As a young man, he studied philosophy, becoming assistant to Giovanni Emanuele Bariè, and devoted himself to politics. He was a lifelong anarchist, and attended Benedetto Croce's last lectures in Milan.

Career[edit]

Veronelli began his editorial career in 1956 with the publication of three periodicals: I problemi del socialismo (The Problems of Socialism), Il pensiero (Thought), and Il gastronomo (The Gastronome).

Still working as an editor, in 1957 he translated Proudhon's The Social Question and de Sade's Historiettes, Contes et Fabliaux - he was sentenced to three months' imprisonment for the publication of obscene material (De Sade’s works would later be burned in Varese).

During the 1970s Veronelli was again imprisoned for six months for having incited Piedmontese farmers to revolt by occupying the station of Santo Stefano Belbo to protest new legislation that favored big industry to the detriment of small wine producers.

1959 marked the beginning of his twenty-year collaboration with Il Giorno. He would remain active as a journalist for the duration of his life, and his articles, full of neologisms and archaisms and marked by a provocative style, would become landmarks in gastronomic journalism.

Among the periodicals to which Veronelli made notable contributions are the Corriere della Sera (Milan), Class, Il Sommelier, EV, Carta, Panorama, Epoca, Amica, Capital, Week End, L'Espresso, TV Sorrisi e Canzoni, A Rivista Anarchica, Travel and Wine Spectator, Decanter, Gran Riserva ed Enciclopedia del Vino, and The European.

His appearance on television notably increased his fame, in particular the program A Tavola alle 7 ("Around the Table at 7"), which he hosted with Ave Ninchi, and his Viaggio Sentimentale nell'Italia dei Vini ("Sentimental Journey in Italy's Wine Country"), where he provided a report on the state of Italian viticulture. His extensive research in the field of wine and food led him to publish several works. These include Vignaioli Storici, Cataloghi dei Vini d'Italia (The Wines of Italy, 1964), dei Vini del Mondo, degli Spumanti e degli Champagnes, delle Acqueviti e degli Oli extra-vergine, and Alla ricerca dei cibi perduti. His collaboration with the renowned chef Luigi Carnacina was also of great importance; among its fruits were La cucina italiana and Il Carnacina.

In 1990, Luigi Veronelli founded the Veronelli publishing house with "the specific objective of thoroughly classifying the immense national gastronomic inheritance and contributing to the heightening of awareness of the touristic appeal of the loveliest country in the world".[1]

His classical training was evident in his writing, and he was often described as ‘the bard’ as he coined many of the common phrases used to describe Italian wine. ‘Vino da meditazione’ for dessert wines and ‘Vino da favola’ (which means fairy tale wine, instead of Vino da tavola) are just a few examples.[2] Italian wine producers recognized him as their guru. In the words of Bruno Giacosa: ‘Gino (as he was known to friends) was all heart, he was the first person to teach us that a great wine was born in the vineyards. He was the first to point out the absolute necessity of carefully selecting grapes in the vineyards, the importance of terroir, of realising the potential of one vineyard or cru over another. He believed Italian wine could be brought to exceptional levels if we worked closely with the earth. Back in the 60s and 70s, no one thought like this. He truly was a pioneer.’[2]

References[edit]