Ernest Hemingway is renowned for his writing and notorious for his passion for good food — and wine. While often associated with his experiences in France, Spain, and Cuba, he held a lifelong fascination for Italy's culture and cuisine that is reflected in his stories.
Hemingway first visited Italy in 1918 as a young man off to battle. As World War I raged in the north, an 18-year-old Hemingway volunteered to drive an ambulance for the Red Cross on the Italian Front. In addition to delivering wounded soldiers to safety, he transported supplies.
On one such mission – delivering cigarettes and chocolate – a mortar shell exploded only steps away from where he stood, leaving him with more than 200 shrapnel wounds. Despite his injuries, the young man dragged an Italian soldier to safety. For his courage, Hemingway was awarded the Italian Silver Metal of Bravery. He spent the next six months recovering in an army hospital in Milano, where he fell in love with a nurse who eventually left him for an Italian soldier. She was the first woman to break his heart.
These early experiences of life, death, and love shaped the young writer. Ten years later, he recounted the period in A Farewell to Arms, the novel about a wounded soldier and his nurse that cemented Hemingway’s stature as a modern American writer.
In 1920, Hemingway moved to Chicago, less than 10 miles from his hometown of Oak Park, Illinois. Here, he met Hadley, his first wife who is depicted in his memoir A Moveable Feast. The newlyweds moved to Paris, where they lived for the better part of the decade.
Hemingway married three more times, traveling the world and writing about his experiences in his famously sparse prose. Throughout the rest of his life, he was drawn back to il bel paese, where he wrote stories and drank wine (and it was good). From Harry’s Bar in northern Venezia to volcanic Etna in southern Sicilia, his adventures across Italy translated to passages in many of his works, such as The Sun Also Rises, Death in the Afternoon, and Across the River and into the Trees.
Inspired by Hemingway’s contributions to literature and the arts in Italy and Chicago, Eataly dedicated our Chicago location to the author. Visit Eataly Chicago to toast the good life the Papa-approved way: with food and wine!