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Amarena Fabbri


Candied and stoneless sour cherries in syrup, Bologna, since 1915

Gennaro Fabbri is possessed by a rare quality: a finger on the pulse of his times, and the ability to predict arising trends. This is why when he opens a distillery in 1905 (in Portomaggiore, near Bologna), he doesn’t just make alcoholic beverages, he does a lot more: he imbues them with an evocative power, capable of tapping into the collective consciousness.
This is how liquors like Primo Maggio (May the First, the International Worker's Day), proudly displaying two workers with a hammer and sickle; or Amaro Carducci, a tribute for the recent Nobel prize-winning poet, are born.
Once it moves to Bologna the company wades into the syrup market. In 1915, Rachele, Gennaro’s wife, perfects a recipe that will dazzle the public, the Marena con frutto (Amarena whole sourcherries in syrup).
In the beginning the syrup is sold in demijohns, but Gennaro has a brilliant idea: he decides to produce a special vase, so that his sour cherries will be brought out from behind the bar and take pride of place in the shop windows of the most elegant Italian cafés.
The first model resembles a chemist’s jar. Gennaro isn't completely satisfied, so he asks Riccardo Gatti, a ceramics artisan from Faenza, to make something unique. Gatti creates a white vase with blue flowers, hinting at the fashionable chinoiseries of the time. The curved typography is meant to evoke a crooked finger dipping into the jar. An all-around masterpiece of (delicious) communication.
Even the Futurists appreciate these sour cherries, and fill them with pepper corns to use them as an “explosive” ingredient in one of their drinks.
Today the company has reached its fourth generation, exports to 110 countries, and offers an affordable, timeless icon.

Suggested reading:
Cento anni Fabbri. 1905-2005, Italian-English Edition, Editrice Compositori, Bologna, 2005