Every year we take a trip to Italy. We meet our friend Raffaello Porro of StudioRPR. Together with Raffaello and his terrific team we meet with designers, collectors, museums, factories, media, and notable automotive personalities. Occasionally, such as this year, we attend some very special events. Here is our story.
We arrived on Saturday in Bologna, which is the capital of what is known as “Motor Valley”. After all, it is the region where we can find the headquarters of Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati, Pagani, and Dallara. It is also the region that arguably has the finest in Italian cuisine. Then again, there are many regions in Italy that can easily stake that same claim. If we want to stir up trouble all we have to do is ask Raffaello (native of Torino) and Valentino Balboni (Sant’Agata) which region has the best cuisine. Let the fun begin. Regardless, the taste buds are always satisfied.
After a long flight from the Pacific Northwest, we arrive in Carpi, just outside of Modena. It is quiet on a Saturday and Sunday afternoon, but at about 3:30 the streets and piazza come alive with couples, families, and friends, walking, talking, shopping, and snacking. It is an astonishingly relaxing and fun way to decompress from the long flight, and quickly get immersed in a wonderful ritual of Italian lifestyle. We’ve been here several times previously. It felt like coming home.
Our travels began on Monday as we drove to Milan for some meetings, and then on to Turin. Evidently, we brought some of our rain from Seattle to northern Italy—a lot of rain. Our first stop was at Museo Cozzi. Check out the video. The museum is adjacent to a dealership. From a welcoming reception hall, descending down a stairwell, bathed in beautiful Alfa red lighting, to opening a door where our eyes are drawn to a vast room of Alfa Romeos. Oh my goodness! It was something very special. Each car has a story, but there isn’t enough time in this world to look at each car, listen to the stories, read the stories, and then move on to the next car. Elisabetta Cozzi was a sensational and enthusiastic hostess, working very smartly to showcase the cars and to continue her father’s legacy. Plan your trip, and carve out plenty of time.
Our next stop was in Turin. We visited with Icona Design. They’re not new, but they are rapidly rising. They have joined us at Concorso, and in fact they created the design for the 2019 Best of Show award. There we met with Atila Bosci and Filippo Bosso.
When we visited the National Automobile Museum in Turin (Museo Nazionale dell’Automobile di Torino) on previous visits to the city, it was always enjoyable and a treat to see the always rotating exhibits. However, this time we went on a personal tour led by Curator Davide Lorenzone. His stories, insight, and enthusiasm created what was one of our best visits yet to any automotive museum. This was a treat.
Our final visit of the day was with Up Design, to meet with Umberto Palermo. Umberto is quite an artist, and brimming with enthusiasm. While there, Umberto shared with us some of his designs, and some plans for projects that we cannot discuss, but when they’re announced they will be tantalizing. Listen for the name Up Design, and Umberto Palermo.
Later that night, at dinner in Turin, we had a culinary experience that gave me confidence to tell Valentino Balboni he was wrong—Turin cuisine is the best. Later in the week when we were to sit down with Valentino we would deliver the verdict.
The next morning we met with automotive journalist Jan Pellissier. Jan is an interesting man with unique insights into the future of automotive developments.
Later in the day we visited the FCA Heritage Hub. This museum is in development so the displays are still being laid out, but there were some sensational Fiat race cars, and Lancias from many eras including our favorite models from the 1950s. We also got into a spirited discussion of our first cars. Every one of us remembers our first car, for better or for worse, and the stories we can tell are often borne from excitement or frustration. The many stories told that afternoon ran the spectrum, and we were all smiling when we departed.
Numerous raindrops later, we sat down with dear friend Renzo Porro at Abacad. Renzo, a member of the Concorso Italiano Hall of Fame, introduced us to the team at Abacad, a leading and pioneering automotive engineering firm. They’ve got a first-class management team.
On Wednesday we drove to Padova to see the Auto e Moto d’Epoca. Padova is in northeastern Italy, sort of near Venice. It is a relatively small city, and beautiful. But first, we stopped to meet Omar Fumagalli of Automoto.it. We had a long, free-wheeling discussion with Omar—a discussion that passed way too quickly. He’s never been to Concorso. We hope he accepts our invitation for 2020.
On to Padova. On Wednesday evening we attended a gala reception, welcoming the Mayor and many notable automotive personalities on the eve of this very famous and well-attended extravaganza which commenced the next morning. Celebration, Italian style, is a great way to go.
Auto e Moto d’Epoca is an annual gathering of everything cars. It is not exclusively Italian, but it is exclusively interesting. There are cars for sale. There are manufacturers presenting. There are parts dealers. There are designers (we met up with our friend Paolo Di Taranto of Zagato). There is media—so much media. And there is our friend Adolfo Orsi who would be presenting his eagerly anticipated annual review of collector car valuations. As we sat down to watch Adolfo’s presentation, we found ourselves sitting with old friend Donald Osborne. No, Donald is not old, but he’s been a friend for many years.
The audience for Adolfo’s presentation was overflowing. Mr. Osborne had some insightful questions. The crowd was not yet willing to let Adolfo stop. As fatigued as we were, Adolfo kept us tantalized.
We drove back to Carpi that night. The next morning was a more leisurely start, but lunch was our much-anticipated meeting with Valentino, and artist Francesca Lugli, the charming young lady who created the Valentino Balboni Award. Truth be told, we never asked Valentino the question about the best cuisine. After all, our Bolognese lunch was as good as it gets.
La dolce vita.