Via Resegone 2, near the Maciachini yellow metro stop, treasures a building of the early twentieth century, characterized by a both simple and elegant style: brownish and almost one-block big, with a chimney and, in the corner, an embossed lettering.
It’s hard to see it immediately; you have to pay attention to be able to read the two words: Fernet Branca. Opened in 1910, the building is still today the seat of the historic bitter liquor: for over a hundred years, in fact, it has opened its doors to produce the Fernet Branca. In addition to the production, via Resegone 2 is also involved in the passing on of the story of the famous Milanese brand, through its Museum.
1845. Bernardino Branca, an Italian chemist, and Fernet, a Swedish doctor, created preparation of herbs able to cure cholera and malaria, two widespread diseases. The bitter liquor had both healing properties and a nice flavor. Soon, it became famous: the alcohol content was reduced and, in 1859, the factory of Viale di Porta Nuova was opened, and more than 300 workers started working there.
The factory of via Resegone was opened in 1910: it was a mini city within the city of Milan, with more than 900 workers, equipped with gardens, a tailor shop and a chemistry. Now that the fifth Branca’s generation owns the place, some things have changed: there are no more than 40 workers, the marketing department has grown and a large part of the building is occupied by the Fernet Branca Museum.
What has remained intact, instead, is the Fernet recipe. Bernardino Branca used 27 ingredients, including spices, flowers and roots. Five of the twenty-seven ingredients are selected and mixed by the Branca on charge: locked in a room, alone, he carries out this ritual, which does nothing but increases charm to the liquor.
The things you have just read are only a few of the anecdotes Marco Ponzano will tell you during the guided tour of the museum. He is, in fact, the responsible of both Branca’s advertising and Branca’s Collection, and he will accompany you through the factory visit.
The tour begins at the gallery of the portraits of the Branca family, among whom stands Bernardino’s. Take a moment to thank him. Thanks Bernardino.
Go up, then, to the second floor, where Ponzano will describe the company through its numbers.
A preview: the Fernet Branca Museum is one of the 56 corporate museums in Italy, it is visited by about 4,500 people every year, and the Milanese factory produces over 20 million bottles a year.
The numbers will soon be replaced by the images.
You will be guided along a gallery with the business memorabilia: advertising posters, black and white images, the collection of Fernet’s, unlucky, imitations…
The real attraction, however, is the spices warehouse: a large space flooded with a strong scent and where colorful cans line up, filled with different spices, including Iranian saffron that costs over 5 euro per gram. Before leaving the factory, you will visit one last room, the one where the Botte Mother stands, the largest barrel in Europe playing a decisive role: aging the Stravecchio brandy.
The museum is open from Monday to Friday, from 10.00 to 15.00, and the visits are held both in English and in Italian. Remember to book!
Fernet Branca Museum website: www.museobranca.it