Mika Apichatsakol’s search for the true meaning of Made in Italy takes her on a luxurious tour with Maserati, a road trip that celebrates an illustrious heritage of artigianato
Mika Apichatsakol enjoys a road trip across picturesque northern Italy with Maserati, visiting local artisans to discover what it means to carry the Made in Italy tag, while Nicharee Phatitit talks to the brothers Minotti about their design philosophy for their furniture brand
Thailand tatler was recently invited on a tour of Italy that was too unique to pass up. No historical sites of Rome, the urban excitement of Milan or the iconic canals of Venice. Instead, we would be starting from the city of Modena in Emilia-Romagna and concluding at Trivero in Piedmont, with pit stops in Lombardy along the way. Oh, and did we mention that we would only be driving Maserati cars to get from one point to the next? We were on a mission to trace the foundations of very specific, very Italian crafts to gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of what it means in the global consumer market for something to be made in Italy. The first stop on our tour of Italian craftsmanship was to pick up our beautiful rides at the Maserati HQ in Modena. We opted for the Ghibli executive sedan for the first day and headed off to our next port of call, the Panini Motor Museum.
Modena’s famed Panini family owns the most complete collection of Maseratis in the world, including race cars and bikes, which were the lifelong passion of the late Italian entrepreneur Umberto Panini. Impressively, Panini is also remembered for another huge legacy from this part of Italy. The family produces one of the world’s finest cheeses, parmigiano reggiano, on his Hombre farm. Only 4,000 wheels are made annually here, each selling for around US$500. What makes this the king of cheese in the world of gourmet? The fact that it can take anywhere from 12 to 30 months to properly mature.
Continuing with the gastronomic theme, our next stop was the Acetaia Villa San Donnino where another local heritage product, traditional balsamic vinegar, is made. Third generation producer Davide Lonardi personally welcomed us and showed us around his family’s private century-old villa. The first thing that hits you about balsamic vinegar production is the smell. Grape must has an incredibly pungent aroma and requires at least 12 years of barrel fermentation for the product to be certified authentic. The estate also produces extra-aged balsamic vinegar, indicating a minimum of 25 years ageing.
Yachts, Chateaux and Italian Sparkling Wines
On day two we set out for Sarnico in a Maserati Levante SUV. Our destination is the Riva shipyard, home to the famous Italian luxury yacht manufacturer. Anytime a suave international man of mystery is chased across an exotic bay or up a Venetian canal by movie baddies, trust us, he’s in a Riva. Building off the technical fundamentals laid by founders Pietro and Ernesto Riva since 1842, it was Serafino and then Carlo Riva from the 1920s onwards who recognised the emotional potential of their product and began a different approach, marketing Riva yachts as symbols of power, prestige and pleasure. Naturally, we leaped at the chance to experience our own James Bond moment with a cruise across picturesque Lake Iseo in a Rivamare before checking into the stunning L’Albereta Relais & Chateaux for the evening. Overlooking the lake, L’Albereta is a painfully charming five-star boutique hotel nestled in Erbusco, an area famous for its sparkling wines. While we are here we opt for a vineyard tour and tasting at the nearby Ca’ del Bosco, a 50-year-old winery with a surprising modern and artistic touch.
There is contemporary art everywhere on the property, particularly sculptures and photography, which can be found integrated into the cellars and vats as if in a gallery. The effort is a direct reflection of owner Maurizio Zanella’s inherent passion for details and refinement. Since 1979, when the 15-year-old Zanella planted his first rows of grapes, the winery has patented several technologies in viticulture. That said, like the other heritage industries we’ve experienced so far, this Erbuscan winery doesn’t skimp on traditional techniques— processes that take time and the human touch.
Zegna, The Final Destination
There was a long drive ahead of us to the final destination of the trip, Casa Zegna in Trivero. On the last day we finally got our chance with Maserati’s four-door sedan, the Quattroporte, which happened to have the custom Ermenegildo Zegna silk interior trimmings. At the headquarters of the famous Italian luxury fashion house, a guided tour took us right into the only factory in the world for Zegna’s unmatched premium fabrics. We witnessed up close the process of cloth-making, from dying and spinning the yarn to weaving fabrics and finishing them off with natural thistles and expert human eyes.
Much has advanced since 1910 when the original Zegna founded the company and yet, not very much at all. He was a meticulous man who never let an imperfection slip past him. He was also a man who thought big, envisioning a global reach in which his brand would reflect proudly its Italian roots. Indeed, Ermenegildo Zegna today is the personification of the acclaimed family-driven enterprises that make the made-inItaly label such a badge of distinction.
vintage style (From top) The Maserati Quattroporte parked at L’Albereta Relais & Chateaux; the largest collection of Maserati cars in the world, owned by the Panini family
a taste of the old country (Clockwise from top) A Rivamare yacht powers across Lake Iseo; Casa Zenga, the private home of the Zenga family; wheels of parmigiano reggiano cheese mature at Panini’s Hombre farm