Sunday, March 20, 2022

Vinitaly – Should I stay or should I go?

In three weeks, barring any further unforeseen crisis and impending world events, Vinitaly 2022 will commence. Having test driven Vinitaly last autumn, and forestalling and then cancelling the 2020 one, all indications are that it is safe to proceed. It’s time to get back on the saddle. Let’s go to Verona!

But are some of you are still hesitant? Well, first off, if you haven’t made flight plans, hotel reservations, secured your entrance badges/tickets and so forth, it’s probably a little late to consider going. However, if you live in Italy or have already, somewhere in the world, made travel arrangements, and you are having last-minute doubts, is there any substance to your fears? I’m going to try and lay it out, just in case you needed it.

Italy - New cases of infection

During the time Vinitaly 2020 was to have been, there were about 2,000 new cases of Covid19 reported daily. In 2021 of April new cases were 10x that, hovering around 20,000 daily. There was a Vinitaly Special Edition 2021 held in November, when new cases at that time averaged about 10,000, which was down 50% from the April date Vinitaly originally was planned for.

Right now, three weeks before Vinitaly 2022 starts, Italy has been experiencing approximately 75,000 new cases of Covid19. That is 37 times higher than 2020 and seven times higher than November of 2021. The newer Omicron Ba2 variant is sometimes referred to as Deltacron, because it is believed to have melded-together genetic information from both variants, Delta and Omicron. Recombinant virus is how the scientists are calling it. Will it kill you if you are double vaxxed and boosted? There is a pretty low chance of that. Will you get sick enough to experience the desire to stay in the hotel, forgo elbowing your way through Verona’s Piazza delle Erbe for a spritz, and pass on taking a long drive out into the country after a long day of work, for a dinner at a romantic winery that will go long into the night? Possibly.

Or one might not even know it, be a-symptomatic, chalk it up as jet-lag, and tough it out. Thousands of you, encased in pavilions where the lights might be a little too warm and the ventilation might be a bit less than the hundreds (or thousands?) who are in that building require for normal respiratory functioning? A petri dish? Perhaps. It is a chance we all take in this new normal of pandemic existence.

“But I’m tired of Zoom calls,” you might say.  “I want to see my friends, my suppliers, my customers, my career colleagues. It’s my world I want back!” I understand. We’ve all been on the same spaceship for the last two years.

There are still about 150 a day who die in Italy, at this time. Remember when one region over from the Veneto, Lombardia, was a Covid epicenter, in the beginning of this long crisis? Today, in 2022, eight die daily in the Veneto, with close to 7,000 daily infections in the region. It’s not as bad as it was, but it’s still “need to know” information. 1.4 million souls have caught Covid in the Veneto region and 14,000 have perished. If Italy was being invaded by Austria, there would still be high concern, as this would appear to be a confounding war with no end in sight. The UN, the US, NATO, would be all over the place. Doctors without borders, the UNHCR and other NGO’s would be dug in. CNN and BBC would be covering it non-stop.

I’m not trying to talk anyone out of it, nor am I attempting to incur any further wrath from the folks who put on the show in Verona. It is something many in the Italian wine trade wait for, every year, to return to. It’s our Mecca, if I may be so profane.

It must really be up to the individual to determine the degree of risk one is willing to accept. If you haven’t gotten the virus yet, you might not be able to empathize with folks who have. This might be your chance to find out what getting Covid might be all about. I don’t wish that on anyone. Well, that’s not true. I wish it on Putin. That, and worse. But that’s another story.

 Baron Alessandro de Renzis Sonnino - a victim of Covid19

No, I think about two of my friends in Italy, winemakers, who died from Covid. And these two fellows I remember always loving to see at their stands. Dining with them, and after the show, driving to their estates and spending time with them. No more. They’re gone. Forever. Forever.

And my family members who got the virus. One of them perished. Some of them had to be hospitalized. Some of them got it again. Some of them have long Covid. Yeah, I haven’t gotten it (yet), but the personal loss to our family and among our friends has been remarkable. I cannot “not think” about the risks, the outcomes and the big hole in our hearts from this two-year saga of sadness.

And then there’s Ukraine. As I have stated in recent posts, with what the world is witnessing right at this moment, I find it exceedingly difficult, if not absurd, to think about writing a post on a wine blog, let alone get on a plane and go anywhere for pleasure. Or for those still working, for their job. I know many people do it, the world doesn’t stop. But I do think long and hard about those souls fighting for their existence. Not for their “right” to have a bistecca Fiorentina near the Ponte Vecchio, or baccalà mantecato con polenta abbrustolita at Antica Bottega del Vino.

How do you see it? Should you stay or should you go? 


Further guides to Vinitaly:

An Introvert's Guide to Surviving Vinitaly

First-Timer's Guide to finding the best bathrooms at Vinitaly

#Vinitaly2014 - New white wine, old red wine, Renzi's hashtag (#campolibero) and new bathrooms 

Remembrances of Italian friends lost to Covid19:

Barone Alessandro de Renzis Sonnino - "There was nobody in the world like him." 

The wonderfully complicated and all too brief (and happy) life of Pio Boffa

wine blog +  Italian wine blog + Italy W
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