Scuola Holden was founded in 1994 by five friends, all in their thirties (those were the years of optimism and nobody was thinking that we were going to go straight towards a world economic crisis). The idea was to create a school for storytellers. Back then, the word “storytelling” was definitely out of fashion. And in Italy, as well as in “old” Europe generally speaking, people tended to believe that teaching people how to write and things like that were useless, perhaps even noxious, but definitely annoying anyway. The five thirty-year-old friends had a different way of thinking.

The school was named Holden because the idea was to create a school Holden Caulfield would never have been expelled from. In other words, a place for out of the ordinary people. In a way, choosing that name represented a commitment. To this day, in fact, the school has had a very singular way to “raise” students. The methods, principles and rules that are used at Scuola Holden are quite difficult to find in other schools. It’s not without reason that the last three lines of The Catcher in the Rye has and always will be the motto of the school.

It’s funny. Don’t ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody.


For twenty years, Scuola Holden was quite of a small school with about sixty students in the main course and another couple of hundred in other small courses or courses spread around Italy. The main offices were in a liberty style building in Turin near the river Po which was as big as a couple of tennis courts. The classrooms looked a bit like those in the elementary schools where we all grew up with blackboards and geographical maps on the walls (upside down, nobody ever knew why). It’s hard to believe it now but lots of things happened in those twenty years. Over three hundred students graduated, the school was about to close down a couple of times but then it became the most famous school of its kind in Italy.

Since 2013, Scuola Holden has grown much bigger. It moved from its original location into a beautiful old bomb-making factory that had been lying abandoned for years before Turin city council put it out to tender and invite bids. Then, in less than a year, the school turned into a place where storytellers are made instead of bombs. It took a lot of work, a fair amount of leaning towards optimism and a fair share of luck.

New Scuola Holden opened on the evening of 14 September 2013, with a lesson held by Renzo Piano (and afterwards there were even fireworks!). At the moment there are between 300 and 340 students, depending on the year, and they all look quite happy. Every day there are about forty employees, dozens of freelancers and thousands of teachers working to make the school function (and most of them look quite happy). “How to make the most beautiful school in the world” is what is said while walking about the school by those who’re summarizing their objectives. In some (actually rare) lucid moments, the sentence is rephrased to a softer version: “how to make the school we all dreamt of when we were at school”. And everybody believes that that is definitely an achievable goal.


The first historical cornerstone of Holden Didactics is Original (two years in which to train and make narration your job). In 2020/21 this course has been transformed in Crazy Original, though. Over 30, on the other hand, is the school for adults who have followed other paths in life but have kept their spirit of adventure.

Academy lessons started on October 22nd 2019, the first degree course for writing in Italy. The goal being to teach (via seven Disciplines and writing gestures) the mental capacities necessary for living in and changing today’s world.

The WonderLabs & Online are shorter courses that can be taken in Turin, around Italy or online: you can choose to give your passion a new voice and have a bit of a laugh or focus on advanced training workshops.

Learning should always be a feeling and a way of connecting different worlds that would otherwise be distant from each other. For this reason, the school shares teaching methods with those who work within training. It also commits itself to give young people a better understanding of the amazing values within reading, writing and telling stories. We do this thanks to the work of the Fronte del Borgo and the Holden school projects. It would be nice to one day have a bit of Holden Caulfield’s spirit in all of the world’s schools.

But that’s not all: today, some of the most compelling stories are told by companies that affect millions of people. Corporate Storytelling deals with helping agencies and professionals in how do this and transferring that secret onto their own product. Holden Studios is another way of getting ahead of the game; it is the forge in which we create new tools and world views, all from the visions of those who want to make them.

Scuola Holden is a private school, in the sense that it’s not financed by public funding. It is self-sufficient and is owned by four partners: Alessandro Baricco, a writer, Carlo Feltrinelli, a publisher, Oscar Farinetti, the inventor of Eataly and Andrea Guerra, one of the best managers in Italy. The chief executive officer is Savina Neirotti, one of the founders of the school. If somebody ever asked those five why they undertook such an endeavour, the answer they would probably get is: “come and see the school and you’ll understand”.



We look forward to seeing you