Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Galleria Campari ... Go! Go! Go!

Super, super, super!

Go! Go! Go!...More......

That's my short and sweet message to you about the Galleria Campari, the company museum that celebrates its own history, present and future through an engaging look at their approach to marketing, advertising and PR (so it's great, even if you're not interested in sipping this tasty bitter-sweet aperitif, but only in beautiful graphics, this one by Nicolai Diulgheroff that not only promotes the product, but also, like any self-respecting piece of Futurist art, also celebrates the motion and machinery involved).

The guided visit first touches on the creation and successful sales of Campari liquors, the company's roles in the urban development of Sesto San Giovanni, today's HQ and the site of the museum, and Milan, including its historic presence -- still felt, even if the cafè is no longer directly owned by them -- in the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele. Already interesting, now the real fun begins, as the visit uses integrated multi-media and imaginative interactive displays together with more traditional presentations of then avant-garde sketches and posters to create a path whose meaning is hinted at even in the change of floor coverings. In fact, one of the more enchanting things about the visit is this carefully planned total experience that even encourages you to explore what red -- the color of Campari bitter -- smells like. (I sure hope that this part of the display isn't temporary, just for Expo!)

There is also a shop, where you can buy some great Campari-related stuff.

One more reason to go: to give moral support to a company so historically dedicated to the arts. Not only were their advertising choices part of the push toward modern art, but they also support young contemporary artists. One wall of glass gives a day and night view of a featured work by an up and coming young artist, while the exterior of the wall around the perimeter of the HQ park (partially open to the public!) is dedicated to young graffitti artists invited to reinterpret historic Campari adverising graphics.

Thinking about becoming an expert bartender? They also have an onsite serious academy for bartenders. Next to it, there is also a restaurant about which I found nothing on the web site. I do hope it also has a bar, where one can go to taste the aperitif as it was meant to be. Curious? The website has a page for finding what they call "red bars" located the world over.

Drawbacks for the visit? Only one, and that one only apparently. Personally, I hate being forced to do much of anything, and guided tours are no exception, though if it's possible to choose them, I'm happy to do so. Yes, to see the collection -- housed in the company's HQ -- you have to go on a guided tour, which also means that you can't explore all the bells and whistles so intriguingly provided. On the other hand, there is no didactic info available, except for the image labels, and so you'd miss out on the magic world that is Campari without the guide. If you don't like being forced to do guided tours, either, it's worth your effort to get over the resentment, and do it.

To access the website (only in Italian, another drawback, but the info about opening hours should be clear enough, armed with a dictionary for the names of the days of the week), you have to be of drinking age in your own country. This might be the case for the visits, too; contact them, and ask, if you had thought to go with the kidlets in tow.

Galleria Campari

Via Antonio Gramsci, 161 - Sesto San Giovanni

T +39.02.62251 -- e-mail: galleria@campari.com

Cost: free

Tours in English: available upon request (you have to call/write an e-mail to reserve the tour, anyway, so it's no extra bother)

Hours: vary according to company plans (for example, they were expanded during Expo, though closed in August), so check out the web site, but when I went there were only three afternoon tours during the week, though there were five on Saturdays from mid-morning to early evening

How to get there from Milan

Take the MM1/red (!) line to the end-of-the-line, the Sesto San Giovanni stop. When you exit the metro, position yourself so that you have your back to the train station. Turn left, and go about one city block down via Antonio Gramsci to their HQ on the other side of the street. A portion of the late 19th-early 20th century façade has been preserved and nested into the modern building of red brick, a lovely architectural touch to soften the clean stark modern style with this traditional building material and integrate it better into the surrounding area.

BEWARE: (1) you need to pay for a ticket with a supplement for Zone 1, because Sesto San Giovanni is outside Milan's city limits. Besides it being the honest thing to do (riding the public transport system without paying, or without paying the supplements, is stealing from the city, and that means from me, too), you risk a hefty fine, (2) until it is updated, do NOT trust the "how to get there" info on the ATM web site, which doesn't offer via Gramsci in Sesto San Giovanni as an option in "GiroMilano," but will send you -- ahem, sent me -- to the opposite site of the city...to a deserted area near the freeway...on a blistering hot day....


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