• Why Varese?
Because Varese is just across the border from Switzerland and as is commonplace in these kinds of border towns, people are more sensitive to certain a place of intense smuggling and contraband in the past.
• Why in Via Severo Piatti?
Because a site on the edge of the city centre was preferred, positioned close to the schools and sports centres as well as two large, big distribution shopping malls.
Severo Piatti was a politician from Varese (1888-1966).
The document in the city hall of Varese states: “a visceral anti-fascist, he never bowed down to the arrogance of the ‘black shirts’, constantly refusing to sign up for the party’s card. He was loved and respected by all, fascists included”.
• What are these ancient seeds?
The ancient seeds, or rather, the local varieties, are illustrated here and here.
• How significant is the non-subscription of these seeds in the European register?
The subscription of these seeds in the official European union register authorises their sale. On the website of the ministry for agricultural politics the subscription procedure does not appear to be complex, however farmers claim that the bureaucracy is long and complicated therefore many seeds stay out of legal commercialisation.
• Does Zona Franca offer a certain type of food?
Zona Franca does not have a particular preference for types of food, as it is mostly an artistic laboratory, so it offers all types of gastronomic research.
• Are the ingredients used organic or ‘biodynamic’?
Many of the ingredients are cultivated using organic or ‘biodynamic’ techniques, but not all of them are certified by European law.
The ingredients are always listed for each dish.
• Are all of the dishes cooked using only ingredients grown from ancient seeds?
No, mostly because of the difficulty of getting hold of them.
One of the reasons they are used by Zona Franca is the desire to inform the public on their common use. The percentage of ingredients cultivated with ancient seeds is indicated for each dish.
• What exactly is Zona Franca?
Zona Franca goes beyond the space dedicated to art to merge with a small business venture.
It’s the evolution of Foodpower.
• And what’s Foodpower?
Foodpower is a research project on the changes of contemporary society concerning food.
In December 2014 Foodpower became a company and created Zona Franca, a place where the boundaries between art and business is fluid and in constant transformation.
• Why has swing music been chosen as the background music for the restaurant?
Because it is a genre that came to be during the ‘20’s, during the economical crisis and during prohibition, a time when people needed change, even when it came to music. It was mostly played in speakeasies.