He’s Back…

I snapped this picture of the infamous “No Barrique, No Berlusconi” bottle during a visit with Maria Teresa Mascarello at Bartolo Mascarello’s winery in Barolo two weeks ago.* It was out on the table in the homey room at the front of the winery where Maria Teresa receives visitors, a quiet yet poignant political statement in advance of the Italian elections. Well, those elections happened over the weekend and, I’m sorry to say, Berlusconi has been returned to power. As this article in today’s New York Times points out, he was able to do so in part because of the support of the Lega Nord, or Northern League.

I don’t really want to get into the Lega Nord’s rather xenophobic politics*, but I will share this photo of two of the party’s recent campaign posters–several of which I saw plastered around Verona wile visiting the city for VinItaly:

(Photo credit: via Willy or Won’t He?)

The one on the left is fairly obvious (“Enough with taxes, enough with Rome”). It’s the poster on the right that has me the most disturbed, with the image of an American Indian and the phrase “Loro non hanno potuto mettere regole all’immigrazione, ora vivono nelle riserve!” Loosely translated it reads “They didn’t have immigration laws and now they live on reservations!”.


The contrast between this poster and Mascarello’s bottle couldn’t be more clear (and, perhaps, this might give American readers a hint of the context in which Mascarello created this label in the first place). Note to Maria Teresa: it might be time to release another round of “No Barrique No Berlusconi” bottles…

*See my earlier post about the collapse of Prodi’s government (which brought about this early election in the first place), and a mention of Mascarello’s famous label.

*By way of background, Wikipedia has a succinct article on the Lega Nord here.

Politics, Italian Style

Between writing buckets of tasting notes and planning various trips this spring, my mind has been lost in Italy a lot recently. Like when is it not? But rarely do I think about Italian politics anymore (you really need to be living there to follow it, and even then nothing makes sense). Until of course, something like the collapse of the government happens, and then I just sort of sigh and mutter to myself, “Italia”.

And as people have been saying since Prodi won the elections not even two years ago, Silvio Berlusconi is lurking in the wings ready to pounce. In fact, he seems to be claiming that elections could happen as soon as April–just after VinItaly, which, interestingly enough, often happens. So on yet another trip to Italy I will perhaps witness another election (although it will be hard to beat the death of the Pope in 2005 for Italian style drama during VinItaly).

Oh Berlusconi. If he returns, I wonder if someone will take up the legendary Bartolo Mascarello’s crusade?


(Above: At a time when Berlusconi directly or indirectly controlled much of the media in Italy, therefore limiting any real critical look at him or his policies by mainstream sources, Bartolo Mascarello released his Barolo with a graffiti spattered label that read “No Barrique, No Berlusconi.” Can you imagine a venerable Napa Valley cabernet producer doing the same with the words “Impeach Bush” on the label?)