The Monument to Alfa Romeo
Alfa Romeo is unquestionably one of the most famous car manufacturers in the world and in 2010 it celebrated its 100th anniversary. Just think what an extraordinary event that was for a company that is still continuing its activity and whose history has become a legend. A company, our ALFA, which more than one hundred years ago was certainly not small. Risen from the bankruptcy of another car manufacturer, Darraq, it always had a rather troubled life, constantly afflicted by union turmoil, changes in the corporate structure, financial difficulties, two world wars, strikes, sabotages and aggressions, continuous unrest and political interferences of all kinds, … And yet, despite everything, those well-known workshops of the Portello and in Arese, where “the mechanics knew how to sew gloves for flies!”, as Enzo Ferrari used to say, produced famous vehicles, driven by men who also became legends, who won everything there was to win on the tracks and on the roads of all the world. And not just with cars.
Its emblem, the old Serpent of the noble Visconti family from Milan, which dates back to the 9th century, the period of the Crusades, always won the heart of every sports fan and had everyone exclaim: “It’s an Alfa Romeo!”. It is the four-leaved clover, a symbol of good luck, which, no doubt, has always accompanied the life of Alfa Romeo. Placed on its bonnets it identified the sporty soul and aggressiveness of all the vehicles of the “Biscione”. Symbols that are still alive in an immortal myth.
Well, in that place, at the Portello, where the famous factory whose products more than once obscured the fame of much more powerful manufacturers used to be, today a big shopping center stands tall. And despite its futuristic architecture, it has nothing to remind us of famous designers like Merosi, Jano, Satta Puliga, Chiti, … who in those very same places created their masterpieces. Nor can it remind us of the drivers who always took them to success, like Campari, Nuvolari, Fangio, … and countless others. And with them, the coachbuilders who turned those mechanical masterpieces into incredible works of art: Zagato, Touring, Castagna, Pininfarina, … Even Enzo Ferrari, who at Alfa and with Alfa built his success and his glory, always declared that Alfa Romeo had been a great teacher of life to him and that he learned the most important lessons for his existence there!
Until 2010 there was nothing left in Milan or in the world to worthily pay tribute to the company that we love, or its vehicles, even the more modern ones, which still give so much excitement and pleasure to anyone lucky enough to drive them. Even today, each one of them tells and represents a fascinating story made of men that want to win. Always. This was an unjustified “damnatio memoriae” that Alfa just did not deserve and we at the RIAR could not accept.
And this is exactly why the Registro Italiano Alfa Romeo (RIAR), which since 1962 has been living in Alfa and unites so many Alfa-fans in the world, has chosen to become, also in their name and representation, the promoter of an initiative that would finally and forever remind posterity of the Milanese manufacturer and of how important it was in our hearts and in automotive history. It is therefore in this spirit that, on the occasion of the One Hundredth Anniversary of Alfa Romeo (1910 – 2010), a monument was built for the City of Milan and for all Alfa enthusiasts which was placed in a highly emotional but above all very busy location. A monument to remember and pay homage to those who made Alfa’s history an immortal legend that always brought out the brilliance, style, and excellence of Italian know-how.
The project for the monument desired by RIAR, which was signed by Antonio Rosti and Ramon Sellers, was the very last work carried out by the Alfa Romeo Style Center in Arese, before it was transferred to Turin. It was inspired on the vehicle 1900 C52 “Disco Volante” from the 1950s, whose futuristic lines, a perfect symbiosis between past and future, are a hymn to design and speed. It was to be entirely made in bronze … so that it could last in time and in memory. However, to make the no doubt marvelous shapes of a car merge into a sculpture, the skill of a great artist was needed. Better still if he was Milanese, given Alfa’s history.
Maestro Agostino Bonalumi, one of the biggest Milanese artists, who passed away in September 2013 and was part of the group of artists (Fontanta, Castellani, Manzoni) who were discovered and promoted by baron Giorgio Franchetti, a co-founder of the RIAR in 1962 together with Francesco Santovetti, immediately seemed like the ideal person to entrust with the realization of our dream. We had found the perfect combination: the Style Center in Arese and Agostino Bonalumi.
The lines of the car thus became one with the about four meter long steles and relief effects that Bonalumi dedicated to Alfa. With his famous relief effects, which seem to hide Alfa fronts, fenders or aerodynamic details, Bonalumi in fact literally elevated the vehicle’s artistic and cultural value by verticalizing its sinuous shapes in a symbiosis of art and speed, as if the wind had shaped its lines and transformed its base into a take-off runway.
The automobile symbolically represents speed, the columns are the obelisks of contemporary civilization. The superb steles with their erect position draw attention towards the aerodynamic nature of the horizontal element, which is inspired on the willowy curves of a vehicle from the Museum in Arese. However, compared to the original model - the Disco Volante - all the elements that force it to stay on the ground have been streamlined. There are no wheels because they are superfluous, there are no handles because they are superfluous, no windows because they are superfluous, and no engine either, because that is already present in the very heart of the casting. The curves that result from the vertical elements interact perfectly with the front of the automobile, though they are typical of Bonalumi’s art. The car seems to be his creation, while the columns look like they were made in the Arese Style Center.
Since June 24th, 2010, this magnificent sculpture owned by the RIAR and placed in front of the main entrance of the Milano Rho Trade Fair, has been welcoming millions of visitors who come to the fair each year from every part of the world for the most important shows. And it will also be there for EXPO 2015.
All this was made possible only and exclusively with the help of many RIAR members and hundreds of Alfa enthusiasts all over the world and thanks to everyone’s enthusiastic subscription and adhesion and to the concrete help of ENEL, the Rovagnati Group, Eberhard and ASI.
This is RIAR. A monument to a style.
President of the Registro Italiano Alfa Romeo International Club