Let’s be honest, at least for students, January is not the beginning of a new year, September is. Holidays are over and “real” life is back on track. It’s time to pick your books up again and prepare for new, never-ending tests. This transition, of course, can be more or less abrupt, based on numerous factors and variables, but it’s undeniable that the environmental context is perhaps one of the most important. This premise helps me prepare the ground to remind you that, not only are you beginning your “new year” in one of the most beautiful places in the world, but you are doing so during the most astonishing time of the year for this city. The heat, which slowly gives way to a drier and fresher climate, sharpens our senses and inebriates us with new different aromas.
It is no coincidence that this time of the year coincides with the grape harvest period in the Chianti area, where wines are produced. Chianti is a territory in Tuscany that extends from the gates of Florence to those of Siena, with hectares and hectares of vineyards responsible for blessing the world every year with unique wines. And it is perhaps Chianti itself one of the greatest representations and expressions of a culture, the Florentine one, which cannot and does not want to ignore the strong roots that continue to fuel the greatness of our city and its surroundings.
Many of you will probably (hopefully) participate in the excursion in Chianti organized by ISI Florence and if you have the opportunity to read this post before leaving for this trip, I can anticipate that it will be one of the most beautiful experiences of your life. The advice I can give, as a wine lover and Chianti lover, is to make the most of this experience not only by admiring a unique place in the world (and tasting wonderful wines) but also by understanding and respecting a production process, such as the wine one, which reveals so much about life itself and our attachment to the territory. The most famous indigenous grape in Tuscany is Sangiovese. These grapes give life to red wines of great personality, just like Florentines tend to think of themselves (JK).
Remember: wine is never “just” a wine. A bottle of wine always has a unique story behind it to be shared and discovered; its tasting is a journey back in time, capable of transporting us to places we did not even know existed. Lose yourself in these stories and be fascinated by them in the same way you are fascinated by a Botticelli painting at the Uffizi or the facade of the Duomo Cathedral. Florence and Chianti, art and wine, architecture and vineyards may seem apparently distant and separate worlds, when in reality, since the Renaissance, they have nourished and supported each other in a harmonious and absolutely mesmerizing way. You will notice how everything slows down around a vineyard, and how thoughts unfold in multiple and broad directions, producing a sense of inner peace that we unfortunately often miss in our everyday life. Remember this feeling. It will help you face this challenging, yet amazing, semester abroad you just started. There could not be a better beginning for you to really get a chance to understand the Florentine culture and set your mind on a positive frequency.
ISI Florence wishes you good luck for this new life experience and a semester that will surely be life-changing!