A special vineyard in the Italian Dolomites: Castel Monreale

Not far from Merano, Italy stands a very interesting vineyard: Castel Monreale.  Here’s a bottle of their great red, a picture I took later with the backdrop of Lake Como.

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https://www.lavinium.it/vino_nel_bicchiere/spumante-castel-monreale-brut-metodo-classico-castello-rametz/

http://www.rametz.com/italiano/cabernet-aa-doc-castello-2015-125-46915.html

 

So, here’s the locale: not bad, eh?

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The grape plants shown in the next 3 pictures are about 75 years old and planted in the old style, which is very labor intensive because no mechanization can be used.

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The cortile of the castle:

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The illustrious Grimaldi family, born in Genoa, moved to Monaco

I recently posted about the fabulous Grimaldi Palazzo in Genoa.  Interestingly, many Americans will recognize the Grimaldi name, for that was the fabulously wealthy and royal family from Monaco into which Grace Kelly married in 1956.

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Here’s what Wikipedia reports about the family:

The Grimaldis descend from Grimaldo, a Genoese statesman at the time of the early Crusades. Grimaldo became a consul in 1160, 1170 and again in 1184. His numerous descendants led maritime expeditions throughout the Mediterranean, the Black Sea, and soon the North Sea. They became one of the most powerful and wealthy families of Genoa.

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The Grimaldis feared that the head of a rival Genoese family could break the fragile balance of power in a political coup and become lord of Genoa, as had happened in other Italian cities. They therefore entered into a Guelphic alliance with the Fieschi family and defended their interests with the sword.

But the Guelfs were banned from the City in 1271, and took refuge in their castles in Liguria and Provence. They signed a treaty with Charles of Anjou, King of Naples and Count of Provence to retake control of Genoa. In 1276, they accepted a peace under the auspices of the Pope which, however, did not put an end to the civil war.

In 1299, the Grimaldis and their allies launched a few galleys to attack the port of Genoa before taking refuge on the Western Riviera. During the following years, the Grimaldis entered into different alliances that would allow them to return to power in Genoa.

This time, it was the turn of their rivals, the Spinola family, to be exiled from the city. During this period, both the Guelphs and Ghibellines took and abandoned the castle of Monaco, which was ideally located to launch political and military operations against Genoa.

In the early 14th century, the Aragonese raided the shores of Provence and Liguria, challenging Genoa and King Robert of Provence. In 1353, the combined fleet of eighty Venetian and Aragonese galleys gathered in Sardinia to meet the fleet of sixty galleys under the command of Anthony Grimaldi. Only nineteen Genoese vessels survived the battle. Fearing an invasion, Genoa rushed to request the protection of the Lord of Milan.

Several of the oldest feudal branches of the House of Grimaldi appeared during these conflicts, such as the branches of Antibes, Beuil, Nice, Puget, and Sicily. In 1395, the Grimaldis took advantage of the discords in Genoa to take possession of Monaco, which they then ruled. This is the origin of today’s principality.

As was customary in Genoa, the Grimaldis organised their family ties within a corporation called albergo. In the political reform of 1528, the Grimaldi became one of the 28 alberghi of the Republic of Genoa, which included the Doria and Pallavicini families, and to which other families were formally invited to join. The House of Grimaldi provided several doges, cardinals, cabinet ministers, and military officers of historical note.

 

 

Gio Ponti and me, once upon a time…

Once upon a time, many moons ago, I worked in a Gio Ponti building.  I loved being in that great building (Denver Art Museum).

So when I came across this cool pic of Ponti in Milano, I thought, it’s about time I said something about him.

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Celebrating the Milano Design Week with a picture of Gio Ponti at the top of the Grattacielo Pirelli (Milan-1959).
(c)Archivio Gio Ponti

An Italian kiss

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When Perugia-born clothing designer Luisa Spagnoli first invented the hazelnut-centred chocolate in 1922, she called it a cazzotto because it resembled a fist. The name didn’t ring right to Giovanni Buitoni, managing director of the Perugina chocolate factory and Spagnoli’s younger lover—Buitoni was 14 years her junior.

The idea of asking a shop assistant for a “punch” just didn’t resonate with the entrepreneur, who was also on the board of directors of the famous pasta brand. Buitoni commissioned futurist artist Federico Seneca to design the packaging and concept, hence the silver wrapping and the tiny slip of paper printed with a quotation about love we still unfurl today.

The box depicting two lovers locked in an embrace was inspired by Venetian Francesco Hayez’s The Kiss (1859), on display in Milan’s Pinacoteca di Brera. All these factors proved a winning recipe; a 1927 advertisement claimed, “In only five years, Perugina has sold 100 million Baci”.

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Francesco Hayez’s “The Kiss” (1859)
For Spagnoli and Buitoni, business was never solely about making money (he was also the mayor of Perugia between 1930 and 1934). The pair looked after their employees in a time when corporate social responsibility was practically inexistent: terraced housing and a swimming pool were built near the workplace; dances, football matches and social occasions were regular occurrences; and a nursery was opened at the Fontiveggi factory during the First World War, so that female employees could bring their children to work while the men were away at war.

In 1939, the chocolates set sail to the States, opening a shop to rave reviews in New York’s Fifth Avenue. Luisa Spagnoli did not live to see the overseas success of her chocolates. In 1935, at age 58, the businesswoman passed away in Paris with throat cancer, Buitoni steadfastly by her side.
The enterprise continues to go from strength to strength. In 2018, Baci Perugina were rebranded. Gone are the entwined lovers, replaced with a scattering of gold and white stars topped with a contemporary logo. Limited Edition, Extra Dark 70% and Milk are minor variations on the original dark chocolate recipe. Looking down from the firmament, Luisa Spagnoli and Giovanni Buitoni, who went on marry the opera singer Letizia Cairone two years after Luisa’s death, surely would be proud to see the product of their love sweetly primed for the future.

This article is from: http://www.theflorentine.net/lifestyle/2019/02/the-backstory-on-baci-chocolates/?mc_cid=1f26260e4d&mc_eid=2a398b6f2f