By Mohammed Mirza
We visited Italy to see luxury carmaker Maserati collaborating with renowned fashion house Ermenegildo Zegna to bring together a limited edition of Maserati cars.
We arrived in Milan airport and from there we were taken to the small picturesque town of Stresa, which lies on the shores of Lake Maggiore in Northern Italy. There we were taken to our hotel, the Hotel des Iles Borromees where we checked in and had some free time to ourselves.
What then followed was a press conference at the Hemmingway suite. It was in this very same suite where renowned writer Ernest Hemmingway stayed and is believed to write much of what is arguably his best work, “A Farewell to Arms.”
At the press conference, done over a casual dinner, we had the chance to meet two inspiring individuals: CEO of Maserati, Harald J. Wester and the CEO of Ermenegildo Zegna, Gildo Zegna.
The two CEOs discussed the possibility of a collaboration. The idea initially faced a few initial setbacks like any other project, but overcoming all odds, it has managed to see the light of day.
It was more than just two companies collaborating; it was two great Italian business houses with rich heritage and dedication for the finest quality coming together.
Following a dynamic question and answer session at the press conference we were taken for a delectable Italian dinner. They say Italians love their food, and we realized the famous proverb even more over our dinner. Where everyone, from the chef to the diners seemed to be passionate about the food.
For the second day, we had an experience akin to an episode of Top Gear. After a technical briefing we were given Maserati sedans, the Quattroporte and Ghibli. We drove the Ghibli to the commune of Trivero, which was an hour’s drive away. The journey was remarkable, with the sun glinting on our gleaming car as we made our way through picture-postcard terrain.
Trivero is home to the former house of the Zegna family, the Casa Zegna. The ancestral home now serves as an archive –museum. We met and were given a tour of the house by no other than the Zegna family.
We then visited the Zegna mill. Here, we learnt how the finest luxury suiting Ermenegildo Zegna is famous for is made. There was an archive room where samples of all cloth produced in Zegna’s factory is archived along with a document that mentions the manufacturing procedure of each. Some archives date back to around 100 years ago.
Afterwards we went for lunch at the Bucaneve Restaurant. The restaurant is famous for using local ingredients and still adhering to traditional recipes. After looking at a non-descript menu I was a little apprehensive but once the food started coming in, my worries went away and I started to indulge in the scrumptious Italian cuisine.
After lunch, we went to the Balocco Race Track – the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles proving ground. The sight of it was absolutely breathtaking; the tracks go on for miles even beyond the horizon. The Maserati MC12, MC Stradale Centennial Edition and GranTurismo Sport – all entitled to their place among the finest sports cars in the world were waiting for us on the track. We got to experience their power, agility and handling to the fullest as we were driven in them by professional rally and race drivers.
Following an exhilarating experience on the racetrack, we drove to the city of Turin. The city to us was like a mini Italy. It has all the essentials of what Italy has to offer in the confines of a single city. From the modern architecture of cosmopolitan cities to the charming qualities of small towns up in the mountains, combined with the history of Italy’s ancient cities, Turin is a beautiful amalgam of it all.
We paid a visit to the National Museum of Cinema. The museum had an exhibit setup where we got to discover the technical side of movie making. The experience was like watching a film that revolves around us.
We were one of the first group of journalists to ever enter Maserati’s state of the art factory. It is here where some of Maserati’s flagship cars are born and stamped with the recognizable Trident logo before being shipped all over the world.
Once inside we saw cars at different stages in the highly modernized production line. It was a great experience to go behind the scenes and watch mechanical lifts move the cars from station to station and the final luxurious finished product waiting for us at the end of the production line.
The trip came to an end, but the overall journey starting from getting to experience Maserati’s latest lineup and Zegna’s luxurious textiles to breathtaking countryside landscapes and the finest Italian cuisine was definitely an unforgettable one.