By Karl Schnelle
Continuing my car journey across northern Italy started in Part I…
After being inundated with Ferraris in Modena and Maranello, we moved out into the Italian countryside. The Maserati museum collection was sold in the 1990s when they went through a restructuring, but a private collector saved it with the help of the local government. It is open to the public at his dairy farm. Cows and cars – what a combination! A side benefit is that you can also taste and buy their cheese! Inside the museum, I could not get close enough to his 1/43 display cabinet, but he had a few Masers in there!
The original highlight of this trip, the reason I signed up, was a visit to the Museo Storico Alfa Romeo. Ever since I had my 1976 Alfetta, I have wanted to visit. Then in 2011, it closed down and I was bummed out. Re-opened in 2015, it was back on my bucket list!
A funny story – I walked over to the Carabinieri in the Subaru and asked if they had any Alfas in their fleet. One of the four said they have one in Milano, but he never got to drive it! I guess they were parked there in the back to be on call if needed. It was a big day at the museum because the 400 classic cars of the Mille Miglia were passing by out front!
After the overload at the museum, we headed to Lake Como for a little non-car downtime. That meant time for me to search out any model shops. Just 5 minutes from the hotel was this jam-packed store. Previously, the one in Bologna was already closed, the one in Maranello was at 3-hour lunch, and the two in Milano were closed on Sunday like every store, so I was happy to get to at least one store during business hours. Many 1/43 Alfas were examined, but none that I needed… Prices were about the same as the internet in the US, but it’s always nice to see them in-person and up-close.
Up next was the second private collection: really amazing ‘Pebble Beach’ quality Alfas and Lancias in a nondescript warehouse outside Milan.
For some reason, the owner had a case of 1/43 Gulp handbuilt Alfas there. Perhaps, they are there because they made his rare Alfa Romeo 6C1750 Carrozzeria Aprile!
By happy coincidence, the private Vespa museum was nearby and the owner was around to open it up for us. It pays to have a tour guide who speaks Italian. Of course, he had the requisite partworks in his display cabinets. There must have been 100s of full scale mopeds on display above his Vespa parts business.
Next day, it was off to Turin to stay at the ex-Fiat factory at Lingotto. Their 1923 test track is still on the roof! Did you happen to see the original Italian Job?
A short walk from factory is perhaps the best automobile museum in Europe, the Museo Nazionale dell’Automobile. Redesigned in 2011, it is a fun place for any car guy or girl to visit. But why do they have a boxed Dinky Toy BMW Isetta; Dinky never made one! I think they previously had ‘Dinky’ 24L Vespa 400 in there that must be out on a temporary exhibit somewhere!
The other 1/43 mystery was why they had a large Brooklin Model display. After further investigation, the new silent partner (or owner) at Brooklin is Nicola Bulgari, and two of his newly-restored American cars are on display in this Turin museum now!
Another fun display is the new Fiat 500 covered with >500 500s! I think they are 1/55 Majorettes…
And finally because our esteemed Editor has been writing a lot about Atlas and DeAgostini lately, we zipped by this place on the A4 Autostrada on the way back to Malpensa airport to end our long, glorious trip.
I hope that these two posts has not been too much for you. However, if you would like more details or photos from anywhere we visited, please let me know via the contact info below. Arrivederci!
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