Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Automotive Museums in Italy

It is only natural that one of auto racing's pioneer countries would have museums dedicated to automobiles and it does. Travelers to Milan, Italy can enjoy the Alfa Romeo Museum located in Arese, Milan, Italy. The museum is in the former Alfa Romeo factory area and covers almost a century of Alfa Romeo history. During its manufacturing heyday, Alfa Romeo not only produced the automobiles they are famed for but also manufactured commercial vehicles, marine and aircraft engines, locomotives, buses and tractors. The museum occupies 52,000 square feet and comprises six floors. The visitor will find four theme areas that include a chronicle of all the Alfa Romeo road cars manufactured from 1910 plus prototypes, concept cars, scale models and aeronautical exhibits. The first car ever manufactured by Alfa Romeo, the 1910 24 HP Torpedo, is on display here. Most of the one hundred original Alfa Romeo models are fully functional today. The museum shut down for renovations at the beginning of 2009 but is expected to re-open in time to celebrate Alfa Romeo's 100th birthday in 2010. After his father's death, Torino Lamborghini constructed and opened the Centro Studi e Rierche Ferruccio Lamborghini in honor of his father, Ferrucio Lamborghini. The museum is located at Via Statale 342, 44040 Dosso (Ferrara); however, unlike the other automobile museums in Italy this one does not maintain a regular schedule. In order to visit, one must schedule an appointment. Visitors are rewarded with such views as a white Countach Quattro Valvole, a Miura SV, an Espada, and and an early 400 GT. Hanging from the ceiling is a Lamborghini Helicopter, a prototype built by Lamborghini but never produced.

No museum tour of Italy would be complete without a visit to the Galleria Ferrari located in Maranello just south of the town of Modena where Ferrari where Enzo Ferrari was born. The museum is a monument to the man who exuded passion about everything automotive. Ferrari was both a racecar driver and a designer and manufacturer of racing cars. His fast paced adventurous life dances before the visitors eyes throughout the museum packed with memorabilia including the trophies won by Enzo himself and of course, the famous cars. A unique feature of the museum is the amphitheater that houses two F-1 driving simulators. Here, the visitor can experience the thrill of being behind the wheel of a racing car sans the skill and danger. The visitor traveling through Torino should take in the Il Museo Dell'Automobile sponsored by Fiat. However, although there are many Fiats in the collection, the theme is technology displaying cars that featured important innovations in automotive history. The landmark of the collection is the 1907 Itala that won the Peking to Paris race in 1907. Both the race and the car are immortalized in Luigi Barzini Sr.'s book, 'Peking to Paris.' Another famous car on display is the Isotta Franchini that was used by Gloria Swanson in the film 'Sunset Boulevard.' Painted on the front doors are the initials N.D. that stand for Norma Desmond, the name of the character played by Gloria.