A great birthday is coming to Turin, it will be in June, the organizers say, but they are not letting out anything else…. This year we celebrate the centenary of a paragon of excellence from Turin. A creator of icons of style and elegance. A company that helped bring the trademark “Made-in-Italy” to the world. It is a brand that we Generation X’ers have known since our school days, perhaps hated in that situation. But which today arouses such fascination … even if it makes us feel a little bit old, (among the contemptuous looks of Millennials and Generation Z’s) but super stylish !!!!
In short, how many people like me learnt to write in cursive with the Aurora fountain pen? Aurora, the manufacturer of fountain pens from our childhood, is the exemplar of Turin excellence. It was founded in Turin in Via della Basilica in 1919 and this year becomes 100 years old !!!
Its founder, Isaia Levi, was a rich cloth merchant, who immediately after the First World War decided to give life to a dream that he had been nurturing for some time: to found the first Italian fountain pen company. The name Aurora was probably chosen to indicate a new beginning after the horrors of the great war, like the beginning of a beautiful sunny day. The quality and elegance of the pens were immediately appreciated by the public but during the Second World War the small workshop in the city center was destroyed by bombing.
After the war, the Aurora production moved, consequently, to the outskirts of Turin, near the Abbadia of Stura with a new President, Giovanni Enriques. At the end of the fifties, Enriques called to his side the young engineer Franco Verona, nephew of Cesare Verona, already linked to the world of writing, being the representative in Italy for Remington Typewriters. And so brought a little by chance and somewhat by destiny, in the early sixties the Verona family took over the ownership of the Aurora factory.
To honor and celebrate the ties between the Verona family and the art of writing, in 2016 the Museum of Writing (Officina della Scrittura in Italian) was inaugurated inside the Abbadia of Stura complex, exactly in an old abandoned spinning mill adjacent to the factory. The itinerary through the museum leads us from the origins of symbols, through all the cultures of the world, to the invention of the alphabet. From the first writing instruments used, through goose feathers, to the planning and production of fountain pens.
A beautiful central section shows us all of the Aurora models. It was exciting to see my first fountain pen, an Auretta, the pen that was designed and launched precisely as a pen for students. All the models speak to us of elegance and style: the Hastil is a must, a refined design created by Marco Zanuso, which is exhibited at the MoMA in New York. We then move on to a reconstruction of the management office and the excellent idea of creating a rich library of antique texts and documents on writing, made available for research and in-depth analysis, upon specific request.
Finally, we reach a tunnel designed to be like the inside of an ink cartridge of a fountain pen, that we pass through just as the ink passes to the nib and then comes out as a mark on the paper.
There are also large rooms for events and teaching available at the Museum of Writing. Everything has been studied in detail to make the visit pleasant and comfortable. A substantial room is dedicated to school groups for the consumption of food and drinks and even the toilets, that as well as having the baby changing area (alas, not always present in other places), are equipped with facilities designed with small dimensions suitable for the use of children!
Aurora is another all-Turin success story. It is a factory that still maintains a large part of the work as craftsmanship. It is a company that has never delocalized, but that addresses the foreign luxury markets. Its turnover, more than half guaranteed by exports, has doubled in the last five years. And it is a company that will continue to produce Italian excellence and export it all over the world.
…. We just have to wait for the celebrations for the first hundred years !!!!
Officina della Scrittura (Museum of Writing)
Address: Strada Comunale da Bertolla all’Abbadia di Stura, 200, 10156 Torino TO
Hours: Monday – Friday 09.00 – 18.00; first and last weekend of the month 10.00 – 18.00; Tuesday closed;
(Closed from 02/08/19 to 02/09/19)
Ticket Fares: Full price 8 €