Life Spot­lights

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

Thailand Tatler - - CONTENTS - Slow Food and Fast Cars

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

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