Gianni Agnelli: the King of Italian style on four-wheels
There are some characters who are so legendary that a single detail is enough to conjure them up in the collective imagination. Who comes to mind, for example, if I mention the watch on my cuff?
The name Gianni Agnelli, his passion for Juventus, his frenzied support for Ferrari, his unmistakable r frisky… But he is also and above all Fiat, the factory he led to success throughout his life.
The Fiat 500: the most iconic city car
It is the first of July 1957 when a group of tired but satisfied mechanics and workers deliver to the managers of the Fiat Mirafiori plant in Turin a car destined to create the myth of the Turin city car. The New Fiat 500!
Designed at an affordable price for families and workers, its rounded shape, small size and sunroof made it a symbol of Italian style all over the world.
Gianni Agnelli seen up close
Attending his presentation is a young man with a strong profile and clear ideas: Gianni Agnelli.
Ever since he was a child, Giovanni has had to deal with the imposing figure of his grandfather of the same name, founder of the Fabbrica Italiana di Automobili Torino in 1899.
From the patriarch, Gianni inherited the strong character and sense of belonging to a family that can be considered a modern-day dynasty.
Just like royalty, being an Agnelli became a mission and a responsibility for him.
Having obtained his law degree (and the title of the lawyer), the young Gianni enjoyed a few more years of carefree living.
But his heart, as we all know, was black and white: Gianni inherited the management of the Old Lady (i.e. Juventus) in 1947, starting “an infinite love story, which like all great passions gives me great joy and great frustrations”.
Why Gianni Agnelli became an icon
Family commitments beckoned and in 1966 the lawyer became president of Fiat, preparing to face a difficult period for the Italian economy and society.
In the 1970s and 1980s, Italy was hit by an economic recession, aggravated by the oil crisis. The air was made even heavier by student and worker protests, which often led to terrorism.
Fiat seemed doomed but Gianni, like a true captain, held the helm, negotiated with the workers, and received unexpected support. Fiat managers and employees, in order to save the factory alongside their leader, protested against the unions in what went down in history as the 40,000 march.
The crisis receded and Gianni successfully steered his company into the fabulous 1980s, transforming Fiat into an empire whose interests ranged from cars to publishing and insurance.
A life to be envied by all
Hailed by the press as the last monarch of Republican Italy, he became a role model for the yuppies of the time and king of high society.
His dinners were legendary: unfailingly refined pairings such as foie gras and Enrico Serafino’s Moscato d’Asti DOCG. A fresh and lively wine, fermented in Serafino’s historic cellars after a rigorous hand harvest, without the use of augers to preserve all the aroma of the Moscato grapes.
Oudeis is an artisanal process that starts with the manual selection of the bunches of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes in a delicate way so as to preserve the integrity of the fruit. The 2016 vintage was one of the most unusual because it was characterised by one of the longest vegetative cycles in recent years. Indeed, the energy transmitted by this wine is certainly one of its most fascinating aspects.
It fully embodies the philosophy of our Gianni: “it is always better to invest in wine: at worst you can drink it”.
Agnelli left the management of Fiat at the age of 75, and was appointed senator for life. He died in 2003 with the honour of a state funeral for the man who embodied the dream of Italian rebirth.
– Until next time, With love!