La Collezione Italiana Borgo Pignano features vehicles that bracket Italy’s age of industrial miracles.
One charming aspect of Borgo Pignano is a collection of vintage Italian cars, motorcycles, and bicycles. These are not the Ferraris and Lamborghinis that set auction records but rather the vehicles that put Italians on wheels and helped a country – whose inhabitants even during the first decades of the twentieth century, had relied on railways, horses and donkeys – modernize.
Before and after World War II, young entrepreneurs established hundreds of manufacturers to build the “macchine del popolo” that soon filled Italy’s country roads and urban alleys. Some of the brands are known around the world – FIAT, Alfa Romeo, Vespa – but others are known only to collectors and devotees.
Every guest who visits La Collezione Italiana seems to leave with a smile on their face. Grandfathers, particularly those of European descent, will explain to their offspring how one of the vehicles was the first car their family possessed. Motorcycle buffs will marvel at the lines of an early Moto Guzzi and cyclists might wonder how anyone ever got around on a two-wheel contraption with wooden wheels and gearing that could only be adjusted by reaching for the rear derailleur. Young children often blurt out that one of the cars – especially a Topolino – reminds them of one of the vehicles they have seen in one of Pixar’s Cars movies.
These vehicles make it easy – or perhaps impossible – to imagine how a family of five set off on its vacation stuffed into a Fiat 500 with their luggage strapped to the roof, or how a teenager pulled up to a first date on a shiny Vespa.
Only those who lived through the experiences remember how easy it was to encounter a car that refused to start, an engine that overboiled, or tires that always seemed to have punctures. It’s a world of sepia, and black and white and Gina Lollobrigida and Marcello Mastroianni.