Liberazione Della Donna
By Carmyn Ginnetti
Over one of our weekend excursions, the CSU Rams Abroad spent time in sunny Tuscany in the cities of Siena, Florence, and Trequanda. I learned and saw a lot during our weekend, but one particular place stuck out in my mind: the Fattoria del Colle Winery. We visited this site on a Sunday, en route back to Rome. It started with a quick pasta-making lesson; we were able to see the entire process from start to finish and even gain some hands on experience. Next, we separated ourselves into groups for tours of the church and house on the premises. After, we excitedly started our wine tasting of the Chianti and Brunello wines cultivated in the Montalcino Valley. I personally loved the Brunello. We finished off our day with a wonderful 4-course meal and free time around the estate.
Although the tour, the tastes, and the Tuscan scenery were amazing, one more factor really piqued my interest at the winery: the story of Donatella Cinelli Colombini. Cinelli Colombini originally inherited the land on which the Fattoria del Colle remains from her mother. She had the idea to design the first all-women winery in Italy. We heard the story of her request for female students from Siena’s Oenology school. We learned that these women were available because of the lack of interest from other wineries, seeing women as unsuitable in comparison to their male counterparts. Donatella sought to disprove the discrimination against women in the wine industry with Casato Prime Donne. Her battle with such a deep-rooted exclusion of women has proven successful, both economically and socially. She expanded to the Fattoria as her second estate, the Prime Donne being the first. She also produces the Prime Donne selection, that is judged and determined by a panel of four women. Additionally, she sponsors an international award to praise female success in journalism and photography called the “Casato Prime Donne Award.” I had the privilege of meeting with Donatella, unintentionally, during the free time after lunch. I recognized her from the class discussions prior to the trip, and knew I had to speak with her. Not knowing much Italian, I thanked her very much for letting us come that day. She thanked me, and several other women I was with, and told us she hoped we enjoyed ourselves and the winery. I wish I could have talked with her more about her business model, but perhaps that will be a conversation for when I return!
This story enticed me to do a bit of my own research on Italian Feminism, or Liberazione Della Donna. I expected to find that it started much later than in the US, but it has roots dating back to the 13th century. There was a major push for women’s education in the early movements, with key figures including Lucrezia Marinella, Moderata Fonte (of Modesta di Pozzo di Forzi), Laura Cerata, and Christine de Pizan. All of these women were from or worked in Venice during the Renaissance period. I had the opportunity to study Christine de Pizan in a past semester and knew a bit more about her social, political, and historical situation. Although born in Venice, her family moved to Paris when her father was appointed to the court of King Charles V of France. Her father’s position had access to the latest books and political conversations, which he chose to share with his daughter. De Pizan was a highly educated and well-rounded Renaissance woman. When she married the court scribe at age 15, de Pizan continued to have access to educational materials, writings, books, ideas, and more. She was even entrusted with diplomatic correspondence because of her rare ability to read and write. However, at the age of 25, she was widowed and her father’s death shortly ensued. Christine de Pizan began writing to support herself and her family. She is often considered Europe’s first professional, female writer and her works were saved and circulated after her death. Her most profound works, The Book of the City of Ladies and The Treasure of the City of Ladies, contain similar messages in relation to women’s education and social standings. She provides counterarguments for the assumption that education would taint women’s morals. She also discusses women’s agency in relation to a man (father, brother), but that women nonetheless should speak. I consider how revolutionary this idea must have been for the time, even though today it would seem dated and perhaps even regressive. Still, de Pizan’s most notable themes are that the ideal orator is not limited to men and that speech is not just a means of education, but for self-actualization.
Despite Christine de Pizan and other feminist figures’ early works and advancements toward equity, when Mussolini came into power, the momentum slowed immensely. The woman’s duty was procreation in Fascist Italy, and procreation alone. However, in post-war Italy, feminism regained speed, especially with the legalization of divorce and abortion in the 70’s. The “machista” culture is still very prevalent today in Italy, but women are rallying for equity, just like in the United States.
My own experience with Feminism started in high school. I attended an all-female, Catholic high school that, despite its tie to Catholicism and traditional values, was relatively progressive for its audience. I had many teachers that spoke about Feminism and encouraged me to do my own research and readings on the issue. I learned more about the history of the movement in the US; the four waves that have swept (and continue to sweep) our nation’s history, who was included and excluded from early and contemporary movements, etc. My first Women’s March was in January of 2017, the spring of my senior year and just after the inauguration of our current president. I remember walking through the streets of Cincinnati, Ohio with hundreds of others, my sign raised proudly above my head, yelling and chanting for my fellow women. In this moment, I knew I was a part of something much greater than a progressive march or childish protest. I am interested in continuing my own learning and understanding on international women’s movements, but I am glad to have started more of this intercultural discovery while in Tuscany and summer abroad.
About the Author
Carmyn Ginnetti is a third-year undergraduate student at Colorado State University, pursuing bachelor’s degrees in the fields of Psychology and Communications Studies with a minor in Leadership Studies. She had the unique opportunity to participate in two CSU Education Abroad courses during the summer of 2019 and has been living in Europe–Spain, France, Switzerland, and Italy–for the past 10 weeks. This experience has allowed for a more rich and engaging learning experience, connecting cultures, communication, language, history, and so much more. Carmyn is most sad to be leaving her dear friends at Giuffré’s Gelateria. Although her next travel endeavor remains unplanned, Carmyn anticipates a trip to Europe again soon. In the meantime, she is excited to begin her role as a Resident Assistant with University Housing and as a Public Achievement Coach upon her arrival to Fort Collins in the fall.