Branca Museum

Via Resegone, 2. (Open Map)


The museum was opened in 1995, on occasion of the famous company’s 150th anniversary. It is in premises covering 800 square metres, and it includes all the sectors of traditional distillery operation: herbal laboratories, barrel production, right through to accounting.
The Museum illustrates all the stages of the company’s history, from 1845, when Bernardino Branca, originating from Cernobbio (near Como) but living in Milan, opened a bar in Pallanza called “Caffè del Portichetto,” and here he made the first fernet liqueur for his own personal use. In 1862 he returned to Milan and founded the Fratelli Branca (Branca brothers, in the name of his three sons Luigi, Giuseppe and Stefano) factory manufacturing liqueurs and syrups, and began selling Fernet. Its success was immediate, and it continued right through the 20th century.
Today the company’s products include many famous drinks: Brancamenta, Stravecchio Branca, Grappe Candolini, the Sensèa specialty range, Caffè Borghetti, Punt e Mes, Carpano Bianco, Classico & Antica Formula, and Sambuca Borghetti. More recently, from 1985, there are also the Villa Branca products (wine and extra-virgin olive oil produced in the heart of the Chianti Classico region), whose history is also documented at the Museum.
The collection includes the first Fratelli Branca advertisement, dating to 14 February 1865 when it appeared in the liberal Milan newspaper “La Perseveranza” (published in Milan from 1859 to 1922). In this advert, sized about 10 x 10 cm, Fernet-Branca was named simply “Fernet”, and it was announced as “anti-fever, anti-worms, tonic, invigorating, warming, and anti-choleric.”
The company’s first logo dates to 1893, designed by the famous illustrator Leopoldo Metlicovitz (one of Marcello Dudovich’s teachers), with the Latin motto “Novare serbardo” (innovation with conservation), featuring the eagle holding the bottle, with the globe underneath. It appeared on the 1895 company calendar, but it was registered at the Ministry of the National Economy on 27 November 1905.
The museum includes a collection of Art Nouveau posters and calendars, with illustrations based on French originals or directly purchased from French agencies. These contributed to the company’s success. Fratelli Branca commissioned a series of large, colour-printed posters which, above all up until 1914, marked the “golden age” of “Liberty,” Italy’s Art Nouveau. They show considerable influence from artists such as Toulouse-Lautrec, Steinlen and Chéret. This fascinating collection comprises artists such as Giuseppe Amisani, Elio Stelminig, Plinio Codognato, Osvaldo Ballerio, Achille Luciano Mauzan and Leopoldo Metlicovitz.
The Museum illustrates an example of Milan’s transition towards a modern economy. Visitors are attracted above all by the information on the famous liqueur Fernet, made to a secret formula that has never been revealed or changed, and that still today is carefully conserved by the family. This product contributed to the development of the Lombard and Italian economy from the mid 19th to the early 20th centuries. Fernet is exported all over the world, and it won prestigious awards and prizes in Italy and Europe: Florence 1861, London 1862, Paris 1867, and Vienna 1873. In the United States, it won awards in Philadelphia, Melbourne and Chicago.