The Casino in San Pellegrino fromt he Altagamma Italian Contemporary Excellence Exhibition and Book. Photo by Daniele Dainelli


MILAN — A dinner chez Zegna? “Why not,” said vice president of Fondazione Altagamma Paolo Zegna with a smile.

Zegna was speaking on Thursday at the presentation of a new project launched by the Italian luxury goods association with award-winning luxury travel agency IC Bellagio to provide personalized experiences involving the brands that are members of Altagamma, aiming to present them as tourist destinations in their own right. Called Altagamma Italian Experiences by IC Bellagio, the program will launch at the end of January and be effective from March, after around two years of incubation.

The goal is also to increase the number of luxury travelers to Italy, who accounted for approximately 5 percent of the over 50 millions foreign tourists who visited Italy in 2016, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council.

Zegna emphasized the potential of the project to promote Italy as these companies “bring to life and give value to the renowned quality and fame of our brands. This is an answer to the growing interest from an international clientele towards the heritage and the craftsmanship of our products, two truly distinctive elements of the Italian brand products.”

Andrea Grisdale, chief executive officer of IC Bellagio, which she founded in 1999, said the agency has been providing “unique, tailor-made travel experiences to Italy for high-end leisure travelers looking for life-changing experiences.” IC Bellagio prides itself on offering itineraries that match each traveler. The project with Altagamma take this “one step further to provide behind-the-scenes access to some of Italy’s most iconic fashion, hospitality, design and automotive brands.”

Zegna underscored the key role IC Bellagio plays in understanding what “these tourists want, in terms of timing, quantity and frequency, interpreting and fitting this information with the companies.” Grisdale explained that IC Bellagio, which is part of the Virtuoso luxury online network, has a pool of 4,000 high net worth individual clients to start with. “We have the most beautiful job in the world, we sell Italy and our clients come to live Italy, have true, customized experiences, looking for what we call bragging rights, experiences that money can’t buy and that nobody else can share.” She said that her clients plan four or five trips per year and come to Italy “at least” five times in their life. While Grisdale could not yet provide details about future itineraries, since they are entirely customized, she said that previous experiences she has organized for IC Bellagio included truffle hunting in Tuscany, mozzarella-making in Apulia, taking painting lessons in Florence from an artist living by the Arno river, or learning to make jewelry, pizza and tiramisu. Future trips could include: visits to ateliers, design houses, workshops, company headquarters, wine-tasting at world-renowned canteens, meetings with entrepreneurs and owners.

Zegna said it was impossible to quantify a financial profit adding that “this project aims at creating loyalty” among existing customers and to attract new ones. “We are looking at the international high-spenders that want to find out what lies behind the country. This will help consumers approach the brand in a more in-depth way or draw new potential customers. This is not a project of volumes but of quality.”

Zegna observed that every member of Altagamma, 100 firms in businesses ranging from fashion and hospitality to food and beverage, navigation and jewelry, is included and interested in participating. “It can become a lifelong memory,” he said.

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