The city of the Mole Antonelliana and the Holy Shroud, the Film Festival, Book Fair, the Lingotto and Fiat. Today, Turin is a popular city of art and culture that is simultaneously solemn and contemporary. For a long time now – perhaps since the glorious 2006 Winter Olympics – gray has no longer been its color. Just a stone’s throw from Turin are mountains, lakes and the delights of the Langhe, as well as the Ligurian Riviera, which give it a prime position. The large baroque squares, royal residences, parks and the slow flow of the Dora River make it a cross between a metropolis with excellent services and a slow city where life is all about walks under the porticos and chats in the historic cafés that were once hothouses of progressive ideas. Though Turin is constantly evolving, it still retains its “Savoy” spirit of understatement and does not deny its past – particularly its industrial past, which has made it what it is today.

Between 1864 and 1884, Turin designed its future as Italy’s industrial capital. In 1865, the city was stripped of its role as capital which was given to Florence: absorbing the economic repercussions was neither quick nor easy. It took 20 years to outline the future of Turin as a city of industry, and it was electricity that played a decisive role in the development of the city’s manufacturing activities. In 1881, Paris hosted the first International Exposition of Electricity. Two years later, in Milan, Edison put the first continuous thermoelectric power plant in Europe into operation. Based on these two events, in 1884 Turin chose to host the International Exposition of Electricity as part of the Italian General Exhibition, organized by the Society for the Development of National Industry, chaired by Galileo Ferraris. It was to be an enormous showcase for the city’s industrial progress. It was Ferraris himself who realized that the use of electricity, together with the immense water resources of the Piedmont alpine area, could provide a new and very important energy resource, later known as “white coal”. This would help the city’s manufacturing activity, that had, until then, been disadvantaged by the lack of fossil fuel deposits. In 1888, a small thermal power plant was already operating in Turin, but it was the establishment of the Società Elettrica Alta Italia in 1896, that led to the industrialization of the entire northern area of the city. In particular, factories were popping up all over the Barriera di Milano district, first and foremost in the metallurgical-mechanical sector, followed by the textile sector. In 1910, the destiny of the Barriera “industrial district” and neighboring areas became clear: existing factories were expanding, and others kept emerging.

The successful manufacturing, food, insurance and petrochemical industries started in that period contributed to Turin’s wealth as an industrial city. Today, some of them tell their story and their development through interesting museum itineraries and business archives.

Lavazza Museum

In 1885, when the agricultural crisis and worldwide economic depression brought farmers to their knees, Luigi Lavazza left the rural village of Murisengo Monferrato for Turin. After studying chemistry and business and working as a manager in a match factory, in 1895, he renamed a small grocery store in Via San Tommaso after himself, which he had taken over the previous year. With an eye to the future, Luigi focused on the sale of coffee which he added to traditional grocery store products. He bought it raw from a Genoese shipper and started experimenting with blends: the result was met with immediate success. At a time when coffee consumption was limited, roasting did not bring great earnings. However, it was seen as an exclusive and respected activity and the store soon acquired customers and fame. Price lists were sent by mail – a very early precursor to email marketing. Sales took off and, in 1910, the store moved to larger premises. In the same year, Luigi Lavazza, who had, until that point, roasted and sold coffee varieties individually, began experimenting with blends. This was the first step towards coffee innovation. The result was a more balanced product that became immediately popular. In the early post-war period, Turin was buzzing: FIAT began producing in the Lingotto district, and the Lavazza store became a small company. In 1922, it moved to Corso Giulio Cesare, to a larger building equipped with more advanced machinery. At the same time, the first national advertising campaign was launched. In 1927, Luigi Lavazza founded the Luigi Lavazza company with his wife and children. This is when he started using a new method to market the product: direct sales. The initiative was so successful that business grew exponentially. The Lavazza family survived the total ban on coffee imports during World War II and the business was restarted in the post-war period. Coffee was supplied to retailers in sealed packages bearing the company name and logo, designed by Aerostudio Borghi, which also appeared on the delivery vans, and the first Milanese branch was opened. These were the first steps towards an incisive marketing policy whose aim was to expand the company throughout Italy. Luigi Lavazza died in 1949 and his sons doubled the company’s share capital. The company grew rapidly, opening its first branch in Milan and setting out to conquer the Italian market. In 1955, Emilio Lavazza, Luigi’s grandson, joined the company with innovative ideas, and the iconic “Lavazza blend” was his doing. In 1957, the impressive factory in Corso Novara started operations. For the first time in Italy, processing was carried out vertically, by gravity. The new plant processed over 40,000 kg of coffee per day, vacuum sealed tightly in tins – a process that allowed the coffee to be preserved for a long time and expanded the possibilities of distribution. In addition to the very high level of product quality, marketing made Lavazza’s fortune. The collaboration with Armando Testa, which continues to this day, led to highly successful press and TV advertising campaigns: those were the years of Paulista, Caballero and Carmencita. In the 1970s, the actor, Nino Manfredi, was Lavazza’s TV spokesperson, with the unforgettable slogans “Caffè Lavazza, the more you drink, the more it will cheer you up” and “Coffee is a pleasure, if it’s not good, what sort of pleasure is it?” From that moment on, Lavazza started looking beyond Italy’s borders, and in 1982, it opened its first foreign subsidiary in Paris, which would later become the location of the first Lavazza Calendar, shot by Helmut Newton in 1993. On the strength of its unstoppable popularity in Europe and overseas and a new advertising campaign set in Heaven, the company started experimenting and exploring different forms of coffee. The result was Coffee Design, taken to the highest level thanks to collaborations with some of the greatest Italian and international chefs, including Ferran Adrià.

Constant product research, continuous renewal of the product range and effective marketing operations have made Lavazza a highly profitable group with offices all over the world. Today, the company’s headquarters are called Nuvola, a name reminiscent of the aroma wafting out of the cups since the brand was founded. Inside, the Lavazza Museum intertwines the history and coffee culture with that of the Lavazza family and 20th century Italian industry through intriguing sensory and emotional paths.

Reale Mutua Historical Museum

In the 19th century, fires were frequent and often had tragic consequences. A single spark could devastate homes, shops and farms and destroy human lives. the Kingdom of Sardinia needed its own internal insurance to give economic relief to the victims, stop the attempts of foreign insurance companies from taking hold of Savoy territories and to prevent the flow of capital abroad. In 1828, well before Turin’s industrial development, King Charles Felix became a partner and promotor of the first mutual insurance company against fire damage. Palazzo Chiablese, his residence, was the first building insured by the newly founded Società Reale d’Assicurazione Generale e Mutua contro gl’Incendi. With an initial capital of 25 million lira in insured assets, Reale Mutua had some of the most illustrious figures of the time among its 1,483 members.

Its underwriting activity was always constant and growing, and other prestigious buildings besides Palazzo Chiablese were insured against fire damage. The registers of the Historical Archives tell the story the Crown’s buildings in the province of Modena and of the numerous royal estates in San Rossore, Pollenzo, Castel Porziano and Parma. Within a few years, all the main theatres in the territories acquired by the Savoy in their race towards the unification of Italy were added, including the Teatro La Pergola in Florence. Among the most illustrious policyholders were Giovanni Giolitti, Gabriele D’Annunzio (who insured the Vittoriale), Arturo Toscanini, Guglielmo Marconi, Luigi Pirandello and Cardinals Giovacchino Pecci and Giuseppe Sarto (later Pope Leo XIII and Pope Pius X respectively).

The company’s prosperity became apparent at the 1884 Italian General Exhibition where it was awarded the first-class gold medal. This was the first of a long series of awards that proved Reale Mutua’s active participation in the economic life of the country and its commitment to development and modernization. In the decades that followed, the company expanded further, achieving an economic stability that enabled it to face the difficulties of the World Wars. During this time, it distinguished itself through solidarity initiatives towards its employees and the population in general, allocating large sums to assisting and aiding servicemen, those injured in the war, and their families. In the early 1960s, a prudent company policy allowed Reale Mutua to become a large insurance company with associate companies and subsidiaries. These were the beginnings of the creation of the Reale Group, now also present in Spain and Chile.

This long history is displayed in the Reale Mutua Historical Museum – opened in Turin in 2007 – where a selection of documents from the company’s Historical Archives and a modern multimedia exhibition alternate in a continuous dialogue between past, present and future.

Italgas Historical Archive and Heritage Lab

Turin in the 1600’s had no street lighting. It was pitch black and the streets were dangerous. It was 1782 before the first street lighting system arrived. Designed by Vittorio Amedeo III, it was made up of almost 700 oil and tallow lanterns. A few years later, in 1789, the Royal Academy of Sciences of Turin announced a tender to find new lighting systems for the city. The answer arrived more than 30 years later, in 1823, at the Caffè Gianotti in Piazza San Carlo, where a “five-flame luster” powered by a small gasometer was lit. Thus, in an Italy that was not yet unified, the race began among entrepreneurs, financiers, technicians and engineers to design the first workshops and sign agreements with local authorities to obtain permits for the construction of plants and distribution networks. On 12th September 1837, the architect, François Reymondon, the engineer, Hippolyte Gautier and a good number of entrepreneurs, bankers, noblemen and soldiers from Turin set up the first Italian gas company, the Compagnia per l’Illuminazione a gaz della città di Torino.

Its monopoly, however, did not last long: in 1851, its direct competitor, Società Anonima Piemontese per l’Illuminazione a gaz della città di Torino, known as Borgo Dora, was founded. Realizing the benefits of a merger, the two companies joined forces five years later, forming the Società Gaz Luce di Torino, which changed its name to Società Italiana per il Gas (Italgas), in 1862. From that moment, gas gradually entered the homes of citizens, powering stoves, water heaters, radiators and irons. Just when everything seemed to be going well, Thomas Alva Edison came on the scene with the greatest invention of the century: electric light. In 1885, the Società Italiana per l’illuminazione elettrica (Italian Society for Electric Lighting) was founded, with Italgas as its limited partner and Giovanni Enrico as a general partner. The electrical systems began to operate two years later, but, in 1888, Italgas sold the business to the Bellani company, which became the sole concessionaire for electric street lighting of the City of Turin.

In 1917, the lawyer, Rinaldo Panzarasa, joined Italgas and, subsidised by the Credito Italiano bank, transformed the company into a holding company. However, the industrial giant could not withstand the attacks of Fascist economic policy, nor the crisis of 1929. In 1930, its presidency was entrusted to Alfredo Frassati, who held this role for 30 years. At the dawn of the Second World War, Italgas was once again stable and survived the conflict remarkably well. In the post-war period, methane gas appeared in Italy – a revolution that led Italgas to merge with ENI and become one of the great leading suppliers of methane gas in Italy. The company expanded rapidly in the Eighties. In the following decade, it had more than 1,400 municipalities under concession and a distribution network of 45,000 km. At the turn of century, Italgas concentrated its activities solely on gas distribution, leaving sales and marketing entirely to ENI Gas and Power. After a series of headquarter changes, sell-offs and various acquisitions, Italgas celebrated its 180th anniversary in 2017. Today, the Group is focused on the future and innovation, with goals for growth and development and an investment plan aimed at progressively expanding its service and adopting digital technologies to improve the efficiency of network management and make it more sustainable.

The company’s heritage is preserved in the company’s Historical Archive, which became known as “Heritage Lab Italgas” in 2021. This innovative space was designed in collaboration with the Giorgio Cini Foundation, and it retraces the history of the company, of the people who worked there, and – above all – the history of the industrial and urban development of Turin and Italy.

Casa Martini

Martini. An Italian icon known around the world. The result of a unique know-how, which many have tried – and still try – to imitate. The recipe, however, is a jealously guarded secret. The only thing we know is that it is an aperitif based on wine and botanical essences from every corner of the Earth. And that it has ancient origins.

It dates back to July 1847 when Clemente Michel, Carlo Re, Carlo Agnelli and Eligio Baudino founded the “Distilleria nazionale di spirito di vino all’uso di Francia” (National distillery of wine spirit for the use of France) in Turin. In 1850, they were joined by two figures who would profoundly change the company’s destiny. Alessandro Martini, a merchant, and Teofilo Sola, an accountant. In 1863, the two men took over the business with a third partner, liquor maker Luigi Rossi, and established Martini, Sola e Compagnia. The following year, production was moved to Pessione di Chieri, a small but strategic village on the railway line that runs as far as the port of Genoa, a crucial junction for the shipment of goods to every continent. The International Expositions of Dublin (1865) and Paris (1867) were golden opportunities for the company. It received several awards and became the official supplier of the Royal House of Savoy (from which it received the Concession of the Royal Savoy Coat of Arms in 1868) and many other royal houses. At the turn of the century, the reins of the company were handed over to Luigi Rossi’s sons. The company expanded rapidly, opening warehouses and branches all over the world (Buenos Aires, Geneva, Barcelona, Paris, Brussels, London, New York, Hong Kong, Constantinople, Bucharest and Yokohama). In 1925, it became a limited company “Martini & Rossi” and started taking on the competition. When the Second World War broke out, the decision to maintain full production in order to protect its workers brought with it an inevitable economic crisis, from which the company only recovered at the end of the conflict. This is evidenced by the resumption, in December 1945, of the “Grandi Concerti Radiofonici Martini & Rossi”, live radio broadcasts of concerts that were aired on Mondays between 1936 and 1964, interrupted only during the war years. This initiative became very popular, and contributed to the popularization of great classical music and distinguished musicians in Italy.
The company, which had always maintained a strong focus on image and communication, particularly through the use of posters as its main means of advertising, in the 1920s began working with renowned artists such as Marcello Dudovich, the creator of the figure of the “Lady in white”. In 1925, the famous logo was created. Known as the “ball and bar”, it is formed by a red circle and a black rectangle with Martini written on it in capital letters. The 1950s ushered in an era of projects and initiatives related to brand communication and marketing. It began with the creation of the “Terrazze Martini” (Martini Roof Top Bars), opened between 1948 and 1965 in Paris, Milan, London, Brussels, Barcelona, Sao Paulo in Brazil and Genoa, and continued with the Martini Museum of Oenology History, opened in Pessione in 1961, and the Martini Racing Team in 1968, with which Martini & Rossi sponsored several cars in motorsport competitions (including the legendary Lancia Delta Martini Racing). Its posters were created by artists of the caliber of Armando Testa, Mario Rossi, Attanasio Soldati and Andy Warhol. And then came TV and the first three short advertising films on the Carosello advertising show, including the China Martini sketch starring Ernesto Calindri and Franco Volpi. In the 1980s, there was an unforgettable commercial with a young woman skating along the streets of Beverly Hills with a Martini on her tray. A decade later, on the terrace of a café in Portofino, a very young Charlize Theron allows herself be seduced by a mysterious young man and decides to follow him, Martini Bianco in hand, disregarding the thread of her dress caught in the chair. These are all very clear examples of how Martini has not only made history when it comes to spirits, but also in advertising and social customs.

In 1993, Martini & Rossi merged with Bacardi, creating a single production, commercial and distribution company. In the same period, the Pessione facility was revamped, becoming an avantgarde production center and a point of reference for the entire group. Today, besides being a production plant, it is a welcoming space with the rooms of Casa Martini that take visitors through the history of wine-making, the history of the brand, and production process of a product that is the expression of entrepreneurial culture and the pride of the Made in Italy brand. By combining the visit to the museums with tasting and mixing experiences, Casa Martini is a tribute to Turin, the aperitif capital.

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