i-ItalyNY - 2014-06 - page 55

“I was born on September 24,
1954, in Alba, the ‘capital’ of the
Langhe hills. My father was from
Barbaresco, my mother from
Barolo,” says Oscar Farinetti,
mulling over his homeland.
The cities where his parents
come from are also home to two
famous namesake wines.
But today we’re standing in front
of Eataly, the megastore on 5th
Avenue, and Farinetti’s words
are a breath of fresh air amid the
traffic of Manhattan. Fresh air, it
turns out, will be the subject of
much of our interview.
“Alba is incredibly situated:
south of Turin, in the plain of the
Tanaro river, a 34-mile straight
shot from the Ligurian seaside
city of Savona. To the west are
the beautiful hills of Roero, to
the east the beautiful hills of
The founder of Eataly
talks about Alba
and the Langhe, a thriving
region located in the heart
of Piedmont, between
the sea and the Alps.
Areyougoingto ItalySOON?
Langhe. The latter are ‘kissed’
by God because they produce
slightly rounded hazelnuts
considered the best in the world
as well as important Italian
red wines: beside Dolcetto and
Barbera, the legendary Nebbiolo
grape, which is produced by
the conjunction of the
(costal) winds coming from the
shores of Savona and the fresh
air of the maritime Alps that
come down from Monviso. The
winds create a distinctively
humid microclimate that leaves
a little morning frost on the
Nebbiolo vines that we call,
unsurprisingly, “Marin”. Nebbiolo
grapes, aged for three years in
Barbaresco and four in Barolo,
are used to make Barbaresco and
Barolo wine.”
Oscar could go on forever talking
about wine. But we cut him off.
We want to know about the
older town of Alba. Then we
can get back to its extraordinary
natural surroundings and what
men made with them.
“In ancient Roman times, the
town was called Alba Pompeia.
It was pretty well known, and
it was close to Pollenzium (now
Pollenzo), the most important
Roman city in Northern Italy,
now home to the University of
Gastronomic Sciences. [Farinetti
is an affiliate of the school.] There
was a coliseum that could fit
25,000 people. Back then, a city
with over 25,000 inhabitants
was like a city with five million
today. It was the last “gate” before
entering Gaul. In Julius Caesar’s
day, it was the last Roman
outpost. North of Turin was Gaul.
Afterward, the development of
Alba underwent several different
Oscar Farinetti was born in Alba in
1954. His father was a socialist who
fought in the anti-fascist Resistance
Movement and then became a local
politician and an entrepreneur. Oscar
started out with his father’s consumer
electronics supermarket UniEuro, then
sold it to fund Eataly, a high-end Italian
food mall chain comprising a variety of
restaurants, food and beverage
stations, bakery, and retail items.
Eataly is in Italy, Turkey, Japan, Saudi
Arabia and the US (in New York and
June-July 2014
Theanswerisblowin’ inthewind!
theLanghe lies
inthewinds from
Savonathat reachthe
coldair fromtheAlps,
you’re inthehills.
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