Roaring engines in Lombardy
A visit to Lombardy's museums dedicated to four-wheels
Not many people know that, just like Motor Valley, Lombardy boasts a longstanding heritage of two- and four-wheel vehicles and a wealth of stories of entrepreneurial excellence, as the region's automobile museums eloquently testify.
Car aficionados and newcomers alike are sure to enjoy a day out with a difference, uncovering the history, beauty and curiosities of vintage Sedans, Spiders and Coupés, legendary racing cars and service vehicles that have left a mark on Italy's automotive legacy. Jump in the car and let's head off to Lombardy's automobile museums!
Lombardy and engines
Many Lombard cities, particularly Milan, have played a major role in the development of motor vehicles since the beginning of the 20th century, when the last horse-drawn carriages were still trundling in the streets. Lombardy is the birthplace of several world-famous automobile brands, such as Isotta Fraschini and Alfa Romeo, whose racing department gave rise to the Scuderia Ferrari in 1929.
The region also saw the establishment of smaller sports car, motorcycle and scooter manufacturers (Guzzi, Gilera and Cagiva). Cars first appeared on the streets of Milan in 1893, and in 1922 the celebrated its 25th anniversary with the construction of the Monza Circuit. In 1927, the very first "Mille Miglia" - described as "the most beautiful race in the world" - started and ended in Brescia.
Three Lombard automobile museums you shouldn’t miss
In Arese (MI), the Alfa Romeo Museum tells the story of the legendary brand in a suggestive exhibition space covering 6 floors. The display includes over 70 “top cars” with spectacular bodywork, in addition to Historical Collection pieces housed in a building set up to resemble an authentic garage. Be sure not to miss viewing the "Yugoslavia" prototype (1959), a forefather of the Giulia, and the New York Taxi designed by Giugiaro for New York's MoMA.
The Fratelli Cozzi Museum in Legnano (MI) houses over 60 Alfa Romeo models (1950-2015) and the Cozzi.Lab, an archive of documents, drawings, photos, posters, trophies, models, magazines and vintage prints. The evocative exhibition concept design by Gabriele and Oscar Buratti takes visitors on a virtual street tour through three aisles filled with Sedans, Coupés and Spiders.
Located in the intriguing monastery complex of St. Euphemia, which was renovated specifically for the purpose, the Mille Miglia Museum - dedicated to the legendary Red Arrow race - has been welcoming visitors since 2004. Its vintage cars are “4-wheeled gems” that have participated in the historic race and here they can be viewed in a setting befitting their historical significance, as part of a scenographic installation that enhances the echo of bygone days.
More things to see and do near Milan
The fascinating private collection of the Alfa Blue Team, a club founded in Milan in 1972, can be visited by appointment in Settala (MI). The exhibition space showcases the brand's automobiles and vehicles, dating from the post-war period up until its acquisition by Fiat.
In Chignolo Po (PV), "Cortocircuito" houses the private collection of Fabrizio Pasquero. It includes rare 20th century motorcycles, trucks and automobiles (MG, Austin-Healey, Jaguar, Alfa Romeo, Triumph, Iso Isetta…) and the original "corto circuito" (short-circuit), a 600 metre track winding through the park.
If you visit Varese's Volandia Park, make sure to pop by the Flaminio Bertoni Museum, dedicated to the renowned designer, motorist and sculptor behind the iconic Citroën DS. On display are cars, sketches and works by the Varese-born artist.
Mantua offers much more than cars
The city of Mantua is home to the Tazio Nuvolari Museum, dedicated to the legendary car and motorcycle driver known as the "Flying Mantuan", and to Learco Guerra, world cycling champion in 1931. Located in the former Carmelino Church, the museum houses cups, trophies, medals, prints, photos, posters, newspapers and period magazines.
In St. Giorgio Bigarello we find the Tullo Pezzo Museum, dedicated to the Bavarian BMW manufacturer. Among the cars on show, the progenitor of the collection is a BMW 326 model from 1938 and the main highlight a 335 convertible from 1939. The display includes rare pieces such as a 1999 Z8 and an Isetta "microcar", manufactured first by Bresso's Iso factory and later by BMW up until 1962.
If your curiosity has been well and truly piqued, you'll be interested to know that Mantua is also home to the Historical Gallery of the National Fire Brigade, which showcases the vehicles employed by the Corps.
Lastly, on 29th May, Mantua will host “Lucevan le stelle - 40th Anniversary of the Mercedes 190”", a rally of Mercedes cars organized by the Club 8Volanti Tazio Nuvolari Vintage Cars and Motorcycles Club to mark the 40th anniversary of the 190 model release.