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La route bleue

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The Alpine Vision crossed the Alps from France to Italy to discover some astonishing and wonderful places, encountering fascinating, passionate people along the way.

la route bleue






The first port of call was the famous Lingotto complex where we were treated to a guided tour by Marcella Pralormo who runs Giovanni and Marella Agnelli's picture gallery.
Built back in the 1920s for Fiat, the Lingotto – a 500-metre long linear building – was at the time the largest and most modern car-making factory in Europe. Designed in the style of American plants by Italian engineer Giacomo Mattè Trucco, it featured five floors intended for automotive assembly, with raw materials going in at the bottom and cars built on a line that went up through the building.

«The Lingotto was greatly admired by the leading architects of the era such as Le Corbusier, who particularly appreciated its impressive spiral ramps,» explains Marcella Pralormo. For 55 years, it was dedicated to the production of Fiat models.

seconde vie

At the beginning of the 1980s, the factory closed down, but charismatic visionary Giovanni Agnelli – grandson of the Fiat founder and boss of the family empire – launched a competition to give the famous building a second lease of life. He wanted to turn it into a multipurpose complex.
«He was successful because he preserved the original building as Giovanni Agnelli desired,» says Marcella Pralormo.

avant gardiste

Renzo Piano changed neither the building’s external appearance nor its interior layout. «He focussed a lot on light and transparency. From the picture gallery, there is a clear view across the Alps and the city,» she observes. The architect’s signature is the ‘Bolla’, a glass bubble delicately placed on the roof. Strikingly avant-garde, the Lingotto is a model for the regeneration of industrial heritage, and a symbol of Turin’s urban revival.


This living, breathing building now houses hotels, a shopping centre, the headquarters of the Automotive Engineering faculty of the Polytechnic University of Turin, an exhibition centre, an auditorium, a cinema complex and of course the stunning Giovanni e Marella Agnelli picture gallery, curated by Marcella Pralormo, a well-respected figure within the Turin art community. Both passionate and philanthropic collectors, Giovanni and Marella Agnelli’s vision was to establish within the Lingotto an area exclusively set aside for creativity.




At the top of the building sits the majestic picture gallery that was opened in 2002. For Giovanni and Marella Agnelli, art is indissociable from pleasure, beauty and joy. They gifted no fewer than 25 masterpieces to the gallery, signed by some of the greatest names in the history of art such as Matisse, Picasso, Renoir, Manet and Modigliani.

Le coffre au trésor

The taste and sophistication of these informed collectors are clearly in evidence here. «I was lucky enough to work with Mr and Mrs Agnelli to help select the works that would go on display in the permanent collection, with the idea being to choose the standout treasures from their private collection,» explains the gallery’s director. «The architecture is defined by the works it contains,» she continues. Renzo Piano envisioned a suspended structure above the Lingotto’s roof to house them. Marcella Pralormo likes to describe this place as ‘a box with a crystal roof’, while the architect himself calls it ‘the treasure chest’. Alpine’s visit to the Lingotto concluded with this timeless artistic interlude, with heritage and modernity coming together in perfect harmony.

Marie Farman / Anne Pericchi
Thierry Ambraisse
Thanks to Marcela Pralormo
& Carola Serminato