The birth of a long story

Dalmatia is a stretch of land and islands 600km long, on the eastern shores of the Adriatic sea. Zara was the Venetian capital of Dalmatia for 400 years, and when the Republic fell, first Napoleon’s France and later Austria ruled the region. GIROLAMO LUXARDO, sent there as consular representative of the Kingdom of Sardinia, moved to Zara with his family in 1817. His wife Maria Canevari became especially interested in perfecting “ROSOLIO MARASCHINO”, a liqueur produced in Dalmatia since medieval times and often made in convents. Girolamo founded his distillery in 1821 to make the liqueur and, after 8 years of research in perfecting it, he obtained an exclusive “Privilege” from the Emperor of Austria, a valuable and cherished acknowledgment of the superior quality of the Luxardo product. Today the firm proudly continues bearing the denomination of “PRIVILEGIATA FABBRICA MARASCHINO EXCELSIOR”.


The MARASCHINO liqueur became an essential cocktail ingredient internationally, along with other products that the Luxardo family began producing soon after the foundation, such as the Cherry Liqueur “Sangue Morlacco”, the Original Maraschino Cherries, Limoncello and many others. In 1913 the third generation heir MICHELANGELO LUXARDO built a very modern distillery, probably the largest in the entire Austro – Hungarian Empire. Even today people arriving in Zara cannot help noticing the imposing building on the harbour edge, which housed the headquarters and the residence of the LUXARDO FAMILY.

At the end of WWI (1918), Zara was incorporated into the Kingdom of Italy as eightyfive percent of its population were Italians. The LUXARDO COMPANY soon became the most important distillery in the country.

The beginning of WWII (1940) severely hampered the industrial activity. After indiscriminate and repeated Anglo-American bombings in 1943-44, the distillery was almost completely destroyed, as was the city. At the end of 1944 German troops withdrew from Dalmatia, allowing occupation by Tito’s partisans. The great majority of the surviving Italian population fled into exile, in Italy and elsewhere (Australia, Canada, The Americas etc.) but too many were killed: amongst them PIETRO LUXARDO, who was kidnapped and disappeared, and NICOLÒ II with his wife BIANCA, wantonly drowned by the invaders.