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Vinitaly 2023: Caravaggio and Guido Reni’s Bacchus consecrate the wine “medium” of our beauty

The exhibition of Uffizi masterpieces in Verona, becomes a symbol of the values it carries in its connection with civilization, territories, culture

Today, wine is no longer a popular drink, but a “universal” one, as evidenced by its “mass” culture, and if we consume it less, it is also because we respect it more. But also because the values it carries are so high, making it an asset of mankind, whose entire journey it has accompanied, right up to the present day. In this sense we can unite it with art: together they represent one idea of civilization and culture. This is why the exhibition of two masterpieces of Italian and world art, such as Caravaggio’s “Bacchus” and Guido Reni’s “Bacchus Child”, at “Vinitaly 2023” (April 2-5), in Verona, where, thanks to the synergy between the Ministries of Agriculture and Culture, and with Veronafiere, they will arrive on exceptional loan from the Uffizi Galleries in Florence, represents a unique event for Italy. This is different from the many exhibitions dedicated to the union between the history of the vine and that of art, because it unites culture at the highest level with wine for the first time in its most important appointment, symbolizing that desire felt in our country and advocated by many, including the most famous art critics, to promote Italian heritage as a whole. But it also makes us reflect on a concept that has always been fundamental for WineNews in doing food and wine communication: the importance of wine as a “medium” of our great beauty, because of the link it has with the territories, their communities, their culture, their inimitable landscapes, made of stories, people and productions, which make us unique in the world.
Caravaggio’s “Bacchus” preserved at the Uffizi in Florence is one of the most famous and admired paintings in the world, a marvelous work painted between 1596 and 1598 by the young Caravaggio, one of the most revolutionary figures in art history. It depicts a young man in the guise of the famous god Bacchus - for some, a self-portrait of Caravaggio himself - according to a vision of antiquity that praises the freedom of the senses, the initiatory rites and Bacchic disguises practiced in ancient Rome and perhaps still alive in seventeenth-century Rome, handing us a glass of wine next to a basket with autumn fruits, the first modern still life, for many scholars represents a Horatian invitation to seize the fleeting moment of life as a fruit to be consumed in its proper time, but also to conviviality and friendship, in an existential reflection on the “here and now”. “Bacchus as a Child” is one of the best-known works by Guido Reni (16th-17th centuries, late/early), one of the greatest Italian painters of the seventeenth century, and from the Palatina Gallery of Palazzo Pitti in Florence, part of the Uffizi Galleries. It depicts the god of wine as a child, portrayed with his usual iconographic attributes (the crown with bunches of grapes and vine leaves, and wine-related objects, such as the wine flask, jug, and cup), who turns smilingly toward the viewer holding a wide riser on which he lays a glass cup filled with white wine, from which he is about to drink. The god’s gaze is cheerful, already moved by a mild intoxication which is another typical feature of Bacchus iconography.
The two works, as officially confirmed at the “Vinitaly 2023” conference, today, in Rome, after the announcement in recent days by Minister of Agriculture Francesco Lollobrigida, will be exhibited, for the first time, in Verona, in the Ministry’s space, starting with “Bacchus of Wine”, which will be the opening event, and can be visited by groups of 25 people, due to security issues, with the desire, the minister said, to WineNews, “to make people perceive how rooted wine is in Italian and world history and culture, a useful element to tell the story and ensure that our agri-food products, through our cultural assets, can enter the markets through alternative routes”.
Perhaps never before has Italy been focusing more than at this moment on its beauty, made up of our historical and artistic cultural heritage and landscape, as well as on food and wine, and betting on the extraordinary evocative power of art, on the ability of our wines to support our beauty, and on public-private synergy. More can always be done, but the effort is there and the road seems to be taken, and from the world of Italian wine gathered in Verona in its most important event, an important message will come.

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