Velier Live 2024, an event like no other

of Stefano Nincevich 14 marzo 2024


It's been a few days, yet Velier Live continues to make people talk about it, and a big surprise is brewing: a special insert in the next issue of Bargiornale, entirely dedicated to the event of the year.
We'll be talking more about this, in the meantime Stefano Nincevich, deputy editor of Bargiornale, has given us an exciting and emotional piece on his experience at Velier Live.

The first thing that leaps out to me at Superstudio Maxi in Milan is a grey T-shirt with the words Farmers, Craftsmen, Artists written in huge black letters across the front. I immediately recognize it - it's the flag of the Triple A people. Wines for dreamers minus the labels or, better yet, minus the same old labels.

I look up and popping out from the t-shirt I see him, with his Jack Sparrow attitude and Keith Richards outfit. But of course, Jack and Keith are the same person. He athletically steps over the cordon at Trattoria Fabbri, lights a cigarette and steers clear of the hallway and the line of people. He scans me, I look at him and he exclaims, "I can't stand rules." I immediately understand this will not be a day like any other and the best is yet to come. So I slalom, dodge, elbow my way into the press room, have a brief chat with the photographers, a quick word with Velier's A-Team and join an operational meeting with the special team from Bargiornale, one of the event's media partners. Then it's time for everyone to jump into the fray. There are thousands of people. It looks like an anthill where everyone knows where to go, as if they were all regulars at the venue. They are guided by their sense of smell, taste, sight, touch and hearing, which here becomes a roar. And it all makes sense.

Visitors stroll through the “streets”. We take the two main streets, Mixer Street, Japan Street, Whisky Street, Mexican Street, Caribbean Street and Piazza Italia until we come cross the statue of Sgrappa, a spirit made by hand (including the middle finger).

In the middle of the square is a spaceship known as the Velier Main Bar, which gives way to Gourmand Street and the Savoir-Faire Pastry Shop. Here, it's not just about drinking - pleasure is all-embracing. It is the opposite of that museum of horrors that's out there in the city with its aperi-dinners, aperi-sushi, aperi-snacks, aperi-bites. 

Velier Live, codename VL24, is a global village. And that's where yours truly understands the true meaning behind the event's subtitle: "An event like no other." Far from being just an exhibition, Velier's show is really a stream of consciousness. A place where thoughts, pictures and emotions with no apparent formal connection are placed in the hands of the explorer and rearranged. They'll decide what to do with them. It's Joyce's Ulysses rolled into a show. And this is also when, map in hand, I realize that my safari through this two-day exhibition includes a Sunday-to-Monday tour where I'll have the opportunity to enjoy 59 experiences, meet a lot of people, shake hands with brand owners from all over the world, try things from this and other worlds. More specifically, what I have before me is not so much a stream of consciousness as a stream of knowledge, the beating heart of a culture where curiosity, sharing and learning are celebrated as fundamental principles. 


So we buckle down to tastings, tasty bites, reserved rooms so small you can barely fit inside, "to the centimeterrrrrrrr" as the girl from Roccella Jonica says as she pinches my last entrance ticket. We have to fight our way through tooth and claw, but the organization proves solid on every front and you feel safe. We are sure what we've stumbled upon is actually a playground for lovers of the good life. There are no booths but film sets taking you from Nuovo Cinema Haiti to Casa Contratto and Chez Billecart, from the gardens of Hendrick's and Fever-Tree to Monaco's Les Parfums. Then off to the mountains of Jalisco and back down in a hurry to say hello to a legend like Simone Caporale, who for five times featured on the World’s 50 Best Bars list with two different bars. As you walk up to him Simone knows exactly what you're thinking, but you'll never know what's going through his mind. It's like a flood - no one can stop him and no one feels the need to.

I watched a few interviews, enveloping like peat in tone and fired-up like a barbecue. I turned on my recorder as people told stories and nursery rhymes about rum, rhum and ron. I was fascinated by the stories of the whisky & whiskey cousins. I celebrated a profane ritual on the tatami of Nikka, the Japanese whiskey that blew out 90 candles and showed us the way, or rather, the Do. Vivid pictures of a dream that reminds me of film director Wes Anderson, whose soft tones blend seamlessly with more intense touches to bring out key details. One of them I almost forgot - if you're wondering the name of that fine artist with the gray t-shirt at the beginning of this story, here's a clue: the perfect host, better known as Luca Gargano.