First, There Was Nittardi
In the heart of the Chianti Classico region, at an auspicious position between Florence and Siena, a strategic defence tower called “Nectar Dei” was already standing by 1183.
The local wine and oil culture developed over the centuries, and truly prospered under an enlightened owner who, with an eye for the future, invested in the agriculture. Michelangelo Buonarroti was a very busy painter in Rome and working on his monumental masterpiece in the Sistine Chapel when he acquired the expansive estate, Nittardi. And so it came that in 1549 he wrote to his nephew, Lionardo, the administrator of Nittardi: “I’d prefer two casks of wine rather than eight shirts.” Michelangelo cultivated his patron in Rome, Pope Julius II, by sending him a “genuine gift”, the best wine from the estate.
In honour of this tradition, to this very day the first bottles of our premium wine Nectar Dei are still conveyed to the Pope. And in homage to the illustrious former owner of the estate, the blissful marriage between art and wine is maintained in diverse ways. Every year, a new artist creates the label and wrapping paper for the Chianti Classico wine, Casanuova di Nittardi Vigna Doghessa. The collection, initiated in 1981, includes works by such internationally renowned artists as Hundertwasser, Horst Janssen, Corneille, Alechinsky, Günter Grass, Dario Fo, Karl Otto Götz, Yoko Ono, and Allen Jones. Likewise, a continually growing collection of sculptural works – in marble, bronze, ceramic and corten steel – by contemporary artists from all over the world is spread out amidst the vineyards, in the wine cellar, and on the trails of the estate.
The culture of wine, which strives for a healthy balance between man and nature, places other attributes in precedence to the enjoyment of wine: discipline, effort, knowledge, respect, curiosity, and constant edification.
In 1983 in Frankfurt, over pasta at my place I had the luck of getting to better know Dieter Hoffmann, poet and author, and his wife Ilka von Trumpling, writer: and so began a long-standing, inseparable friendship, the first manifestation of which was in the founding of the newspaper, Gazzetta di Nittardi.
I chose the name as a nod to the first Venetian newspaper, published in the 17th century, which cost one “gazzetta“. Since then, every year, just like the grape harvest, a new Gazzetta di Nittardi in an edition of 4,000 copies has been released – this year in digital form, and for the first time also in English.
Herewith I would like to extend my thanks to all the authors – including Peter Esterhazy, Robert Gernhardt, Werner Ross, Hans Magnus Enzensberger, Klaus Wagenbach, Edouard Beauccamp, Eva Demski, Salvatore Settis, Torsten Schulz, and Klaus Bergdolt – and to the staff, particularly Brigitte Temporini and Jasmin Asis, who have enriched the Gazzetta with their talent and passion. And I wish the many readers further joy and delight in the discovery of an Italy that can still inspire us and make us happy.