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The Root 100—A Celebration of Black Excellence

This balsamic vinegar might cost an arm and a leg, but here’s why it's worth it

Modena and Reggio Emilia, Italy are the only two cities in the world that make a special kind of balsamic vinegar known as “tradizionale,” which dates back to the 11th century. Regulations exists to safeguard the process of making tradizionale. For example, the thick syrup must be made with local sweet white grapes, the vinegar must be aged in traditional woods a minimum of 12 years, and the final product must be packaged in either an onion-shaped or inverted tulip-shaped bottle and sealed with the relevant consortium certification. Only 3,000 gallons of tradizionale are produced each year.

To understand more about this ancient product, Zak the Baker visits Giovanni Cuocci of La Lucciola, a farm that not only makes tradizionale balsamic vinegar, but is also run in an incredibly meaningful way. Cuocci works with young adults diagnosed with Down Syndrome, autism, and cerebral palsy.

“We are business partners. They help me and I help them. We work together,” Cuocci says. “I started this project to answer the needs that all human beings have when entering the professional world. They need a job they like, that is fulfilling, and that allows them to work with the people they like being with.”

The Artisans of Italy” is a Fusion digital series hosted by Zak the Baker, in which he travels across Italy in search of modern-day artisans. From cheesemongers to the makers of balsamic vinegar, prosciutto, and wine, this series is about discovering the craftsmen behind some of our favorite products and finding out how these traditions began.

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