The Italian Almanac

old Guzzi C4V

Italian News - October 17

With Valentino Rossi's seventh world title in the bag and brands like Guzzi, Ducati and Vespa continuing to enjoy worldwide popularity, Italian motorcycling is in fine health. A new exhibition opening soon at Milan's Fondazione Mazzotta, featuring works of art, posters, photographs and, naturally, heaps of historic motorbikes, takes a look at this success story.

Organizers say it is the first show of this kind to examine the social "phenomena" surrounding Italian motorbikes, as well as the machines themselves. As a result much focus is devoted to the relationship ordinary Italians had with their bikes in the 20th century. Along with the motorbikes, clothes, images, papers and objects from the various eras are displayed to document the role the two-wheelers played.

One of the scooters on show, for example, is an old Guzzi Galletto, like those that used to be popular with Italian priests as they were well-suited to riding with a frock on. Special attention is given to the post-war period when the industry helped get the country moving in every sense of the word - providing jobs and affordable mobility to the working classes. This section also looks at the history of competitive motorcycling.

The Bianchi Freccia Celeste with which Tazio Nuvolari dominated the sport in the second half of 1920s is present, as well as one of the legendary MV Augusta 500s Giacomo Agostini won seven 500cc world titles on in the 1960s and 70s. Cinema lovers are in for a treat too. The Vespa Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck whizzed around on in Roman Holiday is one of the star exhibits.

A selection of photographs and posters looks at motorbikes and advertising. The show, entitled "Motocicletta Italiana" (Italian Motorbike), opens on October 27 and runs until March 12.