Great Escapes: Hospitality and History in Modern Tbilisi

July 26, 2019BARRON'S PENTA

A guest is a gift from God, the Georgian saying goes—and there’s nobody else who does hospitality quite like Georgians do. Visitors will be toasted repeatedly during one of the country’s famous supras, or feasts, with glasses topped off before they’re even close to empty, dishes appearing on the table long past the point when anyone’s still hungry. Here, hospitality is simply a way of life.

But it’s not the only way of life Georgians know. Its capital, Tbilisi, is infamously one of the most war-torn the world has ever seen, conquered and retaken, captured and reconquered in an ever-repeating loop over 18 centuries. You’ll know why just by looking at a map: It rests in the center of continents, trade routes, and empires. Perhaps its geographic misfortune helped fuel that hospitality, along with a true appreciation of family, friends, and the finer things—namely good food and wine, and plenty of chacha, or Georgian pomace brandy…