Why Italy wants Unesco heritage status for its Prosecco hills

Italy is bidding for its Prosecco Superiore hills, home of the famous sparkling wine, to get Unesco world heritage status, the country's Unesco committee announced on Thursday.

Why Italy wants Unesco heritage status for its Prosecco hills
Pouring prosecco. Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP

“We are proud to receive this recognition,” said Innocente Nardi, president of the Consortium for the Protection of Prosecco “because it responds to the work put into this land every day by the inhabitants, making it unique.” 

Nardi added that the approval of the bid “gives new value to the beauty” of the area, where Italy's first wine-making school was founded in 1876. 

“We are not just talking about 'picture-postcard' beauty,” the Consortium said in a statement, “but what the Unesco Convention identifies as a cultural landscape; a site that originates from the activities of nature and man”.

Prosecco Superiore DOCG is produced around the Venetian towns of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene, an area of more than 20,000 hectares.

Though the grapes and production methods are very similar to those of Prosecco DOC (the stuff you'll more commonly see on wine lists), only 15 towns make Prosecco Superiore, while the general Prosecco region spans over 500 towns and two regions.

The complex geology of the Conegliano Valdobbiadene is thought to make for a more diverse, flavourful taste in the wine; while the DOC classification guarantees a certain geographic origin and production specifications, the 'g' in DOGC stands for 'guaranteed' and denotes top quality bubbly.

As well as its ancient tradition of wine-making, the region is known for its well-preserved early settlements, and the unusual geology which helped create the hills.

Hills is Italy's Prosecco country. Photo: Mararie/Flickr

The bid for Unesco candidacy was approved unanimously by the national Unesco Committee on Thursday, having got the go-ahead from Agricultural Minister Maurizio Martina the day before.

But the path to Unesco recognition is long and complex: each area must go through years of consideration and assessment by various experts before it can receive the accolade. Producers first started campaigning for candidacy in 2008, and the region joined Italy's 'Tentative List' for Unesco candidates two years later.

Now that the bid has been approved by Italy's Unesco chiefs, it will be formally sent to Paris for consideration by the end of 2018.

Across the globe, just nine wine-producing areas have achieved the prestigious classification – out of a total of over 1,000.

Italy already boasts more Unesco heritage sites than any other country, with 51 to its name – a number so high that it didn't bother to bid for any more last year, to give other countries a chance to catch up.

Its heritage sites range from entire cities such as Florence and Venice, to cathedrals, castles and ancient ruins.

And last year, Italy announced it had prepared a dossier to get Neapolitan pizza added to Unesco's Intangible Cultural Heritage List.

READ ALSO: Five Italian Unesco sites you've never heard of

Five Italian Unesco sites you won't have heard of

Photo: Pit56/Flickr

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Why Friday the 13th isn’t an unlucky date in Italy

Unlucky for some, but not for Italians. Here's why today's date isn't a cause for concern in Italy - but Friday the 17th is.

Why Friday the 13th isn't an unlucky date in Italy

When Friday the 13th rolls around, many of us from English-speaking countries might reconsider any risky plans. And it’s not exactly a popular date for weddings in much of the western world.

But if you’re in Italy, you don’t need to worry about it.

There’s no shortage of strongly-held superstitions in Italian culture, particularly in the south. But the idea of Friday the 13th being an inauspicious date is not among them.

Though the ‘unlucky 13’ concept is not unknown in Italy – likely thanks to the influence of American film and TV – here the number is in fact usually seen as good luck, if anything.

The number 17, however, is viewed with suspicion and Friday the 17th instead is seen as the unlucky date to beware of.

Just as some Western airlines avoid including the 13th row on planes, you might find number 17 omitted on Italian planes, street numbering, hotel floors, and so on – so even if you’re not the superstitious type, it’s handy to be aware of.

The reason for this is thought to be because in Roman numerals the number 17 (XVII) is an anagram of the Latin word VIXI, meaning ‘I have lived’: the use of the past tense apparently suggests death, and therefore bad luck. It’s less clear what’s so inauspicious about Friday.

So don’t be surprised if, next time Friday 17th rolls around, you notice some Italian shops and offices closed per scaramanzia’.

But why then does 13 often have a positive connotation in Italy instead?

You may not be too surprised to learn that it’s because of football.

Ever heard of Totocalcio? It’s a football pools betting system in which players long tried to predict the results of 13 different matches.

There were triumphant calls of ho fatto tredici! – ‘I’ve done thirteen’ – among those who got them all right. The popular expression soon became used in other contexts to mean ‘I hit the jackpot’ or ‘that was a stroke of luck!’

From 2004, the number of games included in Totocalcio rose to 14, but you may still hear winners shout ‘ho fatto tredici’ regardless.

Other common Italian superstitions include touching iron (not wood) for good luck, not toasting with water, and never pouring wine with your left hand.