On Tuesday July 10 at the Teatro Sociale G. Busca in Alba (Cuneo), the University of Gastronomic Sciences conferred its first ever Honorary Degree in the Promotion and Management of the Gastronomic Heritage and Tourism on Bruno Giacosa, one of Italy’s top wine producers. Leading Langa and Roero winemakers filled the theater to pay tribute to one of the grand old men of wine in their local area who, by dint of his hard work, has carried the name of the Langa hills all over the world. At the start of the ceremony, two lecture halls at the University in Pollenzo were named for prestigious scholars and friends who helped in various ways to ensure the institution’s success, providing a substantial scientific and affective contribution to forms of food, food practices and the development of critical awareness of gastronomic sciences. The Sensory Analysis Laboratory was dedicated to the memory of Professor Marco Riva, one of the founders of the university, following a presentation by Professor Claudio Peri, and a lecture hall was named for Renato and Anna Dominici, gastronomes and cooks, following a presentation by Professor Alberto Capatti, former dean of the University.
The present Dean of the University of Gastronomic Sciences Piercarlo Grimaldi motivated the conferral of the honorary degree on Bruno Giacosa as follows: “This is the first time the University has conferred an honorary degree, so this is a particularly important day in the young history of our institution. We are granting this prestigious title not to someone who is a member of the academic world, but to a witness to tradition, a person of deep wisdom acquired not through a long, standard course of learning and training, but gathered orally through the gestures and words of the generations that preceded him. Born into ‘a family that always ran a restaurant, even cooking lunch for Cavour when he came to inaugurate the railway”, he has the culture of food in his blood. His life story and his experience combine to form a heritage that lies at the foundation of the Langa district as we know it today. His savoir-faire, entrenched in the legendary craftsmanship of the area, is the reason for the success of his company, today a perfect synthesis of innovation and tradition, capable of developing products rooted in and expressing the Langa area and its most precious potentialities”.
In his laudatio, Professor Nicola Perullo portrayed Bruno Giacosa as “one of the precursors of the quality Italian wine renaissance of the 1980s. Having offered the international marketwith wines that met the approval of all enthusiasts, in the 1960s and 1970s he not only made a name for himself, but also spread the fame of his native land, the area where he has always worked— the Langa hills. These objective merits translate into a series of intellectual and human values that represent the specific emblem of his work and fit in perfectly with the job our University has set itself right from the outset.
Bruno Giacosa concluded his lectio magistralis as follows: “What gives me most pleasure, aside from my cellar, is seeing that the Langa area has increasingly become a place producing quality, that its name has been included in the elite of the finest winemaking areas on the planet, that its wines are at last enjoying the success I hoped they would achieve when I was a young man. It hasn’t been easy and even now we’re living through troubled times, but I’m proud to have contributed to the diffusion of the image of Barolo and Barbaresco round the world: economic crises may come and go and wine consumption may drop, but these two names have entered the hearts and palates of so many enthusiasts that we can now look forward to the future with a modicum of serenity. I’m not sure whether I deserve this degree, but I’m glad to dedicate it to all the producers who make quality wine in the Langa area”.
Carlo Petrini, president of the University of Gastronomic Sciences, closed the meeting like this: “To dedicate two lecture halls to important figures in the history of our university, a part of our intelligence and of our heart, is to transmit to the hundreds of students who will pass through these spaces the passion Marco Riva and Renato and Anna Dominici always put into their work. After completing their studies, our students, in the first year mostly from abroad, will take away with them a piece of our local area, the Langa hills, of which Bruno Giacosa is one of the most important figues. As he said himself at the end of his Lectio Magistralis, by awarding him we are awarding all those who, by working the land, have dreamed the impossible dream like Don Quixote. We have to stand united in our diversity, following our feelings, not the logic of the market. This is why we find ourselves here today offering our solidarity and esteem to a symbol of the diversity and wealth of this local area of ours. Ours is a tribute to Giacosa and to a multitude of other people who see the world of wine as being based on diverse identities and nuances. The people who are speaking about the crisis today don’t realize how momentous it actually is. Which is why we are forced to look for new paradigms. The most important is the return to the land and reconciliation with nature. Agricultural products, wine first and foremost, are not commodities, but values without which we lose our sense of the past and vision for the future”.