Pollenzo, where food is a school subject
“From this point on, we will deal with a most important work of nature: we will tell man the foods proper to him and force him to admit that his means of living are unknown to him” (Pliny, “Natural History”, book XX, 1).
This quotation is right at the beginning of the charter for Pollenzo’s University of Gastronomic Sciences, which stemmed in the 1990s from Slow Food’s efforts to renovate the Savoy residence known as Agenzia and to return the complex to public use.
In its history, Pollenzo has been the fulcrum of many artistic experiments. Once an important Roman city, during the Middle Ages it became the seat of patrician Antonio Porro’s government (entrusted with the county by the Visconti family); finally, it was the feudal residence of the Marquis of Romagnano. Between 1832 and 1847, hoping to recreate a new Medieval period for the town, king Charles Albert ordered the demolition of a large part of the original city center, and hired a group of artists – including Pelagio Palagi, architect Ernest Melano, painter Bellosio, cabinetmaker Moncalvo and sculptor Gaggini – to give new form to the entire structure.
This is the experimental soul from which the world of the University of Gastronomic Sciences was born: a place where people study, think about, draw and use food to create social and sustainable projects; where gastronomy is a central issue of the past, present and future; where thousands of young students from the whole world come to live, learn, design and build a conversation around the food that will nourish generations and generations on our planet.
King Charles Albert’s Agenzia – which can be visited as part of the “Taste Academy” Travel Experiences designed by “Italian Ways” – is now home not only to the University of Gastronomic Sciences but also to the Wine Bank, the Albergo dell’Agenzia five-star hotel and its Garden Restaurant. The complex was included in UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites in 1997.