Collezione Maramotti

Cesare Di Liborio

Inside one of Europe’s finest private art collections.

Achille Maramotti was the genius behind the luxury women’s fashion line MaxMara. What few know is that he also created one of the greatest collections of contemporary art anywhere.

Nestled in the picturesque northern Italian town of Reggio Emilio, halfway between Parma and Bologna, the Collezione Maramotti is one of Europe’s finest private art collections—and it’s open to the public (but never crowded: Only 25 visitors are allowed in at a time).

With a personal fortune estimated at $2.1 billion before his death in 2005, Maramotti began, in the ’60s, to indulge his passion for postwar painting and sculpture. Convinced that art could inspire his designers, he carved out a section of the fashion house’s factory, designed by Pastorini and Salvarani, where his employees and the public could share his enthusiasm in an intimate setting.

Over time, Maramotti’s inventory of first-rate works by contemporary masters, like Schnabel, Basquiat and Bill Viola, grew so large that the collection required a home of its own. So in 2003, Max Mara moved its headquarters to a nearby site in Reggio and tapped UK architect Andrew Hapgood to give the industrial ’50s space an airy, SoHo-style makeover.

Since opening in 2007, the Collezione has welcomed 10,000 visitors annually; according to Marina Dacci, the collection’s director, Maramotti insisted that admission always remain free. “Maramotti believed that art and fashion were one,” Dacci says. “That they are like two different languages, or two different pairs of glasses to see beauty.”

Collezione Maramotti is 95 miles southeast of Milan—less than a two-hour drive. To book online, go to collezionemaramotti.org or call 39-0522/382-484.