The two places may be more similar than you think
When Lisa DeNatale, President of the Vermont Italian Cultural Association (VICA), considers what the Green Mountain State has in common with Italy, she touches on an essential element that belongs to every thriving community: shared values.
“There’s a focus on valuing local producers and local artisans – and craftsmanship,” DeNatale says of Vermont. “That is very consistent with Italy.” She adds, “And if you even think physically, the mountains, the lakes, all of that is also quite reminiscent of Italy.”
DeNatale is right: Vermonters and Italians share a reverence for food – as well as reverence for the land and the fresh ingredients that make traditional meals possible.
Slow Food: From Italy to Vermont
Nothing embodies this synergy quite as well as the Slow Food Movement. A product of the 1980s, the Slow Food Movement was founded by Carlo Petrini with the intent of preserving regional food traditions as well as promoting the pleasure found in good food and living life at a slow pace. Since its inception, the Slow Food Movement has become a global force. Today, Vermont has one of the strongest-felt Slow Food Movements in the United States – and a highly active Slow Food Chapter leading the way.
Fostering Culture and Community
Slow Food Vermont is one of the many local organizations that the VICA partners with. For DeNatale and the other VICA volunteers, their mission of “preserving and promoting Italian culture in Vermont” is not restricted to simply helping fellow Italians connect with their roots (though they accomplish this). The VICA shareS the fruits of Italian living with Vermonters of all backgrounds. Cooking classes, wine tastings, bocce socials, and film screenings are just a few of the ways that the VICA invites community members to engage with a taste of Italy.
Of course, the VICA has resources for deeper cultural exploration, too. Through language classes, scholarships, grants, and even seminars on applying for Italian citizenship, the VICA makes the distance between Vermont and Italy feel much shorter.
Explore the Italian Experience – Here in Vermont
Perhaps drawn by the state’s natural beauty, or perhaps by the state’s love of slow living, many native Italains have come to settle in Vermont. With them, DeNatale notes, they have brought their irreplaceable knowledge of skillful food production.
Locals and tourists alike may be surprised to learn that they can experience authentic Italian cuisine and tradition right here in Vermont.
Barre, Vermont, is a hub for authentic Italian cuisine: There’s Vermont Salumi, where Peter Roscini Colman makes Italian charcuterie by hand. Then there’s Campo di Vino, the authentic Italian grocery known for its mouth-watering homemade ravioli and sauces. Another local treasure is Pearl Street Pizza where there’s room on the menu for both traditional Italian recipes and Italian American favorites alike.
However, one doesn’t have to be in Barre to have an Italian experience in Vermont. DeNatale possesses the rhetorical question that lives at the heart of everything VICA does: “How do we celebrate Italian culture in Vermont?” The answer is quite simple: whether we’re sharing a leisurely meal at a favorite eatery, milling about at the farmer’s market, or cooking a recipe at home with some helping hands, the Italian way is already present with us.
Learn more about the Vermont Italian Cultural Association.
Natalli Marie Amato
Natalli Amato is a music and lifestyle journalist from Sackets Harbor, New York. Her bylines include Rolling Stone, Vice, and The Boot. She is also the author of several collections of poetry.