I don’t know about everyone else, but the first thing I think of when I hear “Italy” is wine. Wine, wine, wine. Wine with dinner, wine with lunch, wine with wine; it pairs with everything. And here in Florence, I definitely find that wine encaptures the spirit of the city quite completely, both physically and metaphorically.
Let’s talk about the physical first. There’s a very well known saying, “In wine there is truth.” When we have alcohol in our systems, we are very honest with the world and with ourselves. Something that we’ve been holding in all day is sure to come out, whether it be emotionally or physically in the form of vomit. We let go of our inhibitions and say what we feel. I’ve definitely had moments of truth whether it be at dinner, in the club or bar, or during the walk home. In the club, I’m truthful with men. “Yes” and “no” is easy for me to say, but unfortunately it seems to be hard for some to hear. But if I want to dance, I know I do. If I don’t, it’s obvious, and that seems to be the vibe of everyone around me as well. But on the way home, I have to be brutally honest with myself. Did I have a good time tonight? Do I even like going to clubs? What am I doing with my life? The spiral continues, all thanks to wine and other spirits.
On the tamer side, wine is very much a part of Italian culture. I do get a certain sense of satisfaction every time I bring home a bottle of cheap wine and my homestay family loves it. It gets the Italian seal of approval, and at a good price too! I’m slowly learning how to pick a good wine for the price, what goes with what, and how to actually drink the wine too. One doesn’t just drink it straight from the bottle unless you’re at a high school party (sorry to anyone who still does that, I’m just looking out for you!) Italians are the kings and queens of drinking without getting too drunk; they stay classy, San Francisco (extra bonus points if you know the movie I’m referencing.) Pro tip: it is a known but not known fact that cabs will not stop for people who are too drunk; they don’t want to deal with the possibility of puking and it’s also a telltale sign that you are a tourist, most likely American.
Speaking more metaphorically, wine embodies the Italian spirit quite well; reserved and sophisticated without being boring. Wine is generally the “classiest” alcohol; you can drink it with most meals, with families, when out; it is very versatile, just like Florence. In the day, Florence is filled with museums, fine food, and family fun, but when the sun goes down, the nightlife goes up and on for hours, which reminds me a bit of NYC without the yellow taxi cabs that never stop.
If the drink of Germany is beer, then the drink of Italy is certainly wine.