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If you're thinking of holidaying in Verona this spring and you also happen to have a nose for great vintages, why not plan your visit around a trip to the Italian wine industry's oldest and most popular exhibition?
Dating back 50 years, Vinitaly's origins lie in Verona's traditional annual agricultural market. It took the vision of a journalist and PR man named Angelo Betti to see that the wine industry needed its own standalone event. He began in 1967 with a wine tasting day, a chance to appreciate some of the regional wine denominations that had recently been established by the Italian government.
Over half a century later, the event now has in excess of 4.000 exhibitors and 130.000 visitors. As well as helping to export Italian wine around the world, it has played a major role in establishing it as a quintessential part of the Italian national identity.
Running from Sunday 9th April to Wednesday 12th April 2017, this year's fair offers a tempting array of seminars, workshops and exhibitions. Visitors can stroll through halls dedicated to Umbria, the Veneto, Puglia and other wine-growing regions. But the fair isn't only about domestic produce: the Vininternational hall offers a chance to explore new tipples from as far afield as Argentina and Australia, while Vinitalybio celebrates the best new organic wines.
The centrepiece of the fair is the 5 Star Wine International Award, previously known as the International Wine Competition. One of the most rigorous competitions of its kind, its panel of judges includes celebrated wine journalists and head sommeliers from Michelin-starred restaurants. After a grand tasting from 31st March to 2nd April, the wines with the highest scores will be featured at the fair to visitors to taste and purchase. This year there's also a new competition, Wine Without Walls, for wines low on hangover-inducing sulphites.
In addition, the fair also boasts a selection of themed gourmet eateries and "citadels of gastronomy", where visitors can sample pairings of regional wines and cuisine for the best cultural dining experience.
Easily reachable via free shuttle buses from the main railway station, the city centre and Verona-Villafranca international airport, Vinitaly at the Veronafiere exhibition hall should top any wine-lover's list of what to do in Verona.