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Culture and wine: Piedmont walking on the New Silk Road

Gemellaggio Italia – Cina

In corso

The twinning between the Vineyard Landscapes of Langhe Roero and Monferrato and the Rice Terraces of Honghe Hania opens the door to interesting prospects for collaboration between Piedmont and China.

The balance of the first visit to the UNESCO site in Yunnan, one of the most economically dynamic provinces in China, is positive: 50 million inhabitants over an area of ​​394,000 square kilometers (more than Italy) and a GDP that grows by 9% per year.

The Piedmontese delegation assisted by Davide Castellani, vice consul at the Consulate General of Italy in Chongqing and by his staff, from 11 to 14 December had a busy schedule of meetings with the highest political and administrative authorities of the Yunnan Province, of the prefecture of Honghe and with the universities of Yunnan. Representing the Piedmontese reality were the Vice President of the Piedmont Region Fabio Carosso, the president of the Association for the Heritage of Vineyard Landscapes of Langhe-Roero and Monferrato (UNESCO site management body) Gianfranco Comaschi, the director of the Unesco site Vineyard Landscapes of Langhe -Roero and Monferrato and expert of the Ministry for Cultural Heritage and Tourism Roberto Cerrato, the head of communication and external relations on the Unesco site Roberta Favrin, for the academic part Marco Valle Head of Cultural Heritage & Regional-Urban Development Links Foundation (founding members Compagnia di San Paolo and Politecnico di Torino), Federica Larcher, representative of the University of Turin, Researcher at the Department of Agricultural, Forestry and Food Sciences and Director of the Study Center for the Rural Development of the Hill.

The multimedia exhibition inaugurated in the new Hani Culture Museum in Yuanyang was dedicated to the Piedmontese site, a reference point for the enhancement of the rice terraces UNESCO World Heritage since 2013.

With the Chinese site, the Piedmont Vineyard Landscapes have signed the Twinning agreement included in the international Memorandum The New Silk Road signed in March during the visit of President Xi Jinping to Rome.

Yuanyan County is characterized by the beautiful terraced rice fields that descend from the slopes of the Ailao Mountains to the banks of the Hong River, the Red River. “We were struck by the beauty of the landscape with the extraordinary geometric shapes of the water mirrors and the terraces dedicated to the cultivation of red rice”, comment Gianfranco Comaschi and Roberto Cerrato. “Through the visit to the museum and then to the millennial village of Azheke, under the guidance of the Governor Luo Ping, we have grasped the richness of the culture and traditions of the Hani minority that populates the terraces, preserving their uses, customs and traditions as in an “open-air museum”.

However, the philological preservation of history does not preclude the introduction of forms of innovation. The Prefecture of Honghe has in fact illustrated several projects to encourage and increase tourist flows in the area: from the construction of an airport and a highway, to the creation of an App on 5G technology that will also have contents in Italian.

Meeting at the University of Yunnan

The UNESCO site delegation met with representatives of Yunnan Agricultural University, Kunming University of Science and Technology Oxbridge College, Yunnan Technology and Business University, Wenhua College of Yunnan Arts University, College of Landscape Architecture and Horticulture and College of Plant Protection.

President Comaschi and director Roberto Cerrato presented the UNESCO site and the ongoing collaborations with Piedmontese universities, Professor Federica Larcher, representing the University of Torino, described the University of Turin in its teaching aspects , research and international relations. She then illustrated the educational and scientific structure and organization of the Department of Agricultural, Forestry and Food Sciences and the activities of the Study Center for the Rural Development of the Hill, of which she is the Director. Marco Valle, expert on Cultural Heritage, illustrated the international projects of the Links Foundation research and innovation center. In the exchange of experiences in the academic field, possible themes of collaboration were identified in the sectors of sustainable development, agriculture, management and landscape planning, management of cultural heritage and technological innovation. The first contacts were established to stipulate the Memorandum of Understanding in the short term in order to start the collaboration.

The Piedmontese delegation closed the visit to the College of Plant Protection, where the experimental viticulture project was presented on the highlands of Shangri-La (North of Yunann) ranging from 1600 to 3000 meters above sea level; some wines already in production were tasted, from Chardonnay and Cabernet grapes.

Future prospects

“Piedmont is the first Italian region to exploit the potential of the New Silk Road in Yunnan”, comments Davide Castellani, Vice Consul at the Consulate General of Italy in Chongqing. “Thanks to the contacts developed during the mission, interesting prospects for collaboration not only cultural but also of an economic nature for companies in the region. Among the opportunities reported by the Yunnan government, the participation in the sixth edition of the China South Asia – Expo, the most important fair in Yunnan with a strong focus on South East Asia, is particularly highlighted ”.

For the Vice President of the Region, Fabio Carosso, “the visit went beyond the best expectations, I did not imagine that such interesting prospects could be opened up for our companies. There is a lot of work to be done, but the twinning between the Langhe Roero and Monferrato Vineyard Landscapes and the Honghe Hani Rice Terraces has proved to be a precious opportunity to be developed not only from a cultural but also from an economic point of view.

The UNESCO recognition, which affects 40% of our territory, is the passport that favors the internationalization of our companies and at the same time attracts an increasing number of foreigners to our hills “.

Gianfranco Comaschi and Roberto Cerrato commented “We had the opportunity to discuss a first series of issues that in the coming months will reach a shared choice of the two sites. We are thinking of cultural exchange projects and activities that will concern climate change, environmental sustainability, tradition and heritage conservation. Our site was envied for the “best practices” in the management of cultural and landscape heritage and on this issue a collaboration was explicitly requested.

2020 will be “the year of Italy-China Culture and Tourism” and will represent the 50th anniversary of bilateral relations between Italy and China: “We invited the delegation of the Yunnan Province to visit the UNESCO site Langhe Roero and Monferrato in the month of September which represents one of the most beautiful and evocative moments of the year from the point of view of the landscape and traditional festivals.


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