quarta-feira, 8 de setembro de 2010

Florence toasts history of wine

Florence - The importance of wine over millennia of human history, from its creation in Mesopotamia to its spread throughout the ancient world is explored in an exhibition in Florence. The event at Palazzo Pitti showcases original artefacts, sculptures, frescos and mosaics, alongside multimedia interactive exhibits and short films to explore the history of wine. It follows a chronological path, looking at the origin of wine in areas corresponding to modern-day Iran and Georgia in around 6,000 BC, and the gradual development of systematic vine cultivation.

It then looks at the flowering of wine in the Greek world, together with all its associated symbolic, religious and cultural meanings. The next stage considers the mass production, transport and export of wine by the Romans, the first culture to transform the art of winemaking into a major industry. In addition to exploring the development of wine production, the exhibition also considers the agricultural techniques used, the varieties of grape and their genetic qualities. The religious and cultural values ascribed to different wines over the ages are charted through an extensive range of artworks paying tribute to divinities, rites and celebrations. Precious sculptures and painted vases chart the birth of the cult of Dionysius and its gradual spread throughout Greece, while elegant drinking goblets illustrate the social significance of wine among wealthy ancients. One of the event's star attractions is the oldest surviving container used to store wine, on loan from Georgia, where it was discovered. Residue on the inside of the 8,000-year-old ceramic storage vessel revealed that Neolithic peoples in this part of the world used preservatives to lengthen the life of the red vintage they produced.

Two sections of the exhibition are devoted to particular geographic areas, believed to have played a critical role in wine history. One looks at the extraordinary contribution made by the Phoenicians and Etruscans in spreading the cultivation of Europe's native grapevine, vitis vinifera. The other focuses on the special case of Pompeii's vineyards, which have provided archaeologists and wine historians with a wealth of information thanks to the 79 AD eruption of Vesuvius. The excavation of buildings in Pompeii, the discovery of artefacts there and the detailed accounts of Latin writers have also allowed the exhibition's curators to recreate an Ancient Roman wine cellar, complete with amphorae, wooden barrels, crates and a host of other equipment. 'Vinum nostrum. Arte, scienza e miti del vino nelle civilta' (Vinum Nostrum. The Art, Science and Myths of Wine in Civilisation) runs at Palazzo Pitti until May 15, 2011.

photo: Bacchus by Pier Francesco Mola (1666).

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