[dropcap] L [/ dropcap] Visits to museums sometimes they leave a bad taste in my mouth. Sometimes because it is not what you expected, others because, precisely, you are going to visit it on the day it closes for weekly rest: but, without a doubt, the worst that can happen to you is that it will not open again. It was what happened to me in September 2011, when I stayed at the gates of the temple ...
He had seen several photos; From what he sensed, the visit was going to be well worth it. The museum it was located in a former industrial complex next to the brand's old factory in Arese, near Milan. When I got to the entrance checkpoint they told me that it was closed. "But how?" As they explained to me, "they were doing work" ...
The reality was that the Fiat group (as you know, the owner of Alfa Romeo), once production in Arese was strangled and almost entirely transferred to Turin, it did not want to invest a single euro more in the institution at hand. It was rumored that he was even trying to sell the cars on display, forcing the Italian Ministry of Culture itself to intervene to ban the operation.
I've been watching since then in case I saw any of the cars at the auctions, they weren't going to end up like the magnificent Maranello Rosso collection. And, after several years of uncertainty, without warning, the museum came to life again; taking advantage of the recent presentation of the new Alfa Romeo Giulia, the Italian brand announced an imminent and resounding reopening. I was finally able to extract the little thorn that was stuck in me, so I headed for Arese.
Arrival at the Alfa Romeo Museum, history and development
Once you leave the first toll on the A8 motorway that connects Milan with Malpensa Airport, everything is well indicated. Arriving at the temple, one realizes that the environment has been renovated, that, fortunately, the investment has continued to flow from Turin to carry out a reform planned by the architect Benedetto Camerana.
Using new exterior elements, such as a kind of red roof that welcomes visitors to the car park, crosses the reception block and passes in front of aviation engines, we enter the exhibition.
The exhibition is divided into three parts that, in turn, are spread over six floors, in a downward spiral path in the center of which is an installation that represents the DNA of Alfa Romeo.
The first part corresponds to the Chronology; in it the brand presents the most important automobiles in its history. The old ALFA 24HP from 1910 begins the exhibition, which guides us to the modern 8C Competizione of 2007 passing through mythical classics such as the 6C and 8C in various versions, as well as the famous Giulietta, Giulia, Alfetta or the most recent sedans 75 , 164 or 156.
The second part of the temple is dedicated to BEAUTY, like this, with capital letters. Here the Masters of Style are exhibited, whose protagonist is an ALFA 40/60 HP Aerodynamic from 1913 bodied by Castagna and that seems to be taken directly from a Jules Verne novel. It looks like a submarine and is mounted on a stringer chassis. It is followed by the 1900 52 C1952 Disco Volante Touring, a spider that unfortunately did not go beyond the experimental phase.
The following is the evolution of the Bertone study. From the 2000 Sportiva Coupe of 1954 and the Giulia Sprint Speciale Prototype of 1965, we arrived at the Carabo of 1968; This car was the first to mount scissor doors, and it was one of the forerunners of the wedge-shaped design. The photograph of the great Nuccio Bertone crouched observing the Carabo line with all its panels open is part of the great snapshots of the history of Automobile design.
After the Iguana by Giugiaro and the 33/2 Speciale by Pininfarina, both from 1969, we move on to the Nuvola from 1996, a unique specimen designed by the Centro Stile Alfa Romeo that anticipated the lines of the, at that time, a new generation of models.
Alfa Romeo, The Italian school
The Beauty show now takes a step back to introduce us to what is called "The Italian School". Majestic bodied specimens by Touring using its Superleggera construction method that take our breath away. The 8C B Lungo and 6C 2300 B Mille Miglia from 1938, and the 6C 2500 Sport from 1939 and 6C 2500 Super Sport «Villa d'Este» from 1949 are part of this section.
A separate mention deserves the Giulietta (Sprint, TI, Sprint Speciale and Sz "Coda Tronca") and the Giulia (TI Super, TZ, Sprint GT, Sprint GTA and GT 1600 Junior Z), whose versions have been arranged neatly in another room whose upper and rear parts are covered by a mirror that allows to admire each and every one of the details of the bodywork.
Alfa Romeo Museum, competition and speed
The third part of the temple is the one starring Speed. This begins in the RL Targa Florio of 1923, and progresses with the Grand Prix Type 2, 6C 1500 Super Sport, 6C 1750 GS, 8C 2300 Monza, 8C 2300 Le Mans, Grand Prix Type A -with its two V8 engines in parallel- and Grand Prize Type B.
As for the Bimotore, which is also kept here, it is a replica of the first car built by Enzo Ferrari which, as its name suggests, has two engines in its front and rear that are visible thanks to transparent hoods.
The plant is completed by the GP Type C 12C and the 8C 2900 B Speciale Le Mans. Going down the last flight of stairs from the museum we reach the World Champions area, the birth of the almighty Formula One.
It is possible to admire pre-war cars, such as the 512 GP Type 1940 designed by the Spanish Wifredo Ricart, which is powered by a flat 12-cylinder mechanism. After the end of World War II, the famous Alfettas Gp Type 158 and 159 appeared.
On one of the walls of this section there is a list with all the official victories of the Biscione brand. As a curiosity, the last two were harvested by James Thompson in Valencia in 2007, riding an Alfa 156.
In another section dedicated to prototypes and sports cars, the 33 1967 Stradale prototype is exhibited. It was a very special moment for me as for the first time I was in front of Franco Scaglione's masterpiece. And what a coincidence, precisely on the day of my 33rd birthday. Alongside the "street" model were the Type 33/2 Daytona, Type 33/3, 33 TT 12 and Type 33 SC 12 Turbo in the famous Fernet Tonic livery.
With the section "Careers in the Blood" we finished the visit. This set is made up of the 6C 3000 CM, Giulia TZ 2, GTA 1300 Junior, 1750 GTAm and two Formula One cars: a 45 Brabham BT-1977B and a Type 179F that was only used as a test car.
Before leaving, it is worth stopping for a moment at the collection of miniatures next to the staircase that leads back to reception. The renewed museum It also has a cafeteria, several rooms with audiovisual exhibitions (including a spectacular three-dimensional cinema), a conference room, a souvenir shop along with a small bookstore, a dealership where you can configure the models currently on sale and a modest circuit to put ready models of the collection.
Finally, the reader has to know that, even with the renovation, Alfa-romeo you can't show all the classics you'd want. That is why it maintains a fund in custody that is more important in number than the one exposed; in fact, it is made up of more than a hundred alphas that… we will have to leave for the next visit;)!