Alfa Romeo Museum

Eleonora Ruzzenenti | Live the World

November 23, 2022

For more than 100 years Alfa Romeo has been an Italian motorsport legend. No other car manufacturer can boast a history as extraordinary as that of Alfa Romeo.

The Alfa Romeo story started in Milan on 24, June 1910. That was the day a group of entrepreneurs and businessmen took over the Italian Darracq automobile company (based in Portello on the outskirts of Milan) from its French parent company, and called it Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobili – A.L.F.A. Soon enough, due to World War I, ALFA was forced to cease production. In 1915, Nicola Romeo, an Italian entrepreneur, and engineer became the new director of the company. It was during this time that the company began producing military hardware for the Italian war efforts to keep sales going. Car production had not been considered at first but was resumed in 1919. A year later, the company was renamed to Alfa Romeo and the first model under this new brand, the Torpedo 20-30, made its debut. This led to the creation of one of the most popular luxury automakers in the history. The car company entered a golden age, producing high-class racing cars as well as consumer road vehicles. However, after Nicola left the firm in 1928, Alfa Romeo struggled throughout the 30s to retain its position. By 1933, the company was taken over by the Government which then had effective control. Therefore, Alfa Romeo became a national emblem. During this period, Alfa Romeo introduced numerous exceptionally beautiful and unique vehicles, such as the Alfa Romeo 2900B Type 35 and Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Spider Corsa. In 1940, Italy entered World War II and the company had already been suffering through organizational difficulties, so in order to protect its assets, Alfa Romeo cars were hidden in Melzo at a farm. In 1944, aerial bombardment put an end to production at Portello. Therefore, the company was once again forced to cease production. Nevertheless, as soon as the war was over, Alfa Romeo began its recovery process by manufacturing electric cookers, aircraft engines, and marine engines. After making profits, the automotive production also resumed. The site was changed to Milan and a factory was established there instead. But since it was unable to make profits, the company was reestablished with the help of a few more Italian investors to Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobili, which would become known as A.L.F.A. in short. By 1947, the first post-war car The Magnificent Freccia d’oro” was introduced. A few years later, the company returned to motorsports racing and won the first Formula 1 World Championship with its new Alfa Romeo Tipo 158 Alfetta. In 1951, the company introduced its first off-roader vehicle and a few years later the Disco Volante made its debut. But in 1950 a new Alfa model was introduced: the new Alfa 1900. Much smaller than most Alfa cars, it incorporates innovations in design and production technology. In 1954 follows the even cheaper Giulietta. The most famous car ever produced by Alfa, the Spider, arrives a few years later, in 1966, and its production continues until 1993. Responding to the growing demand, two new factories are built in the late 60s / early years 70, one near Milano and the other near Napoli. The latter produces a small economic car, the Alfasud, which goes into production in 1972. The Alfasud, replaced by the Alfa 33, can not sustain all the production capacity of the Alfa, so the company launches into a joint venture with the Japanese Nissan. The car that follows is known as Arna in Italy and as Nissan Cherry in the rest of the world and had limited success. In 1987 the Fiat group incorporates Alfa Romeo. Today, thanks to Fiat's muscles in the background, Alfa has returned to the limelight as a real competitor in the luxury car market.

In 1976, the Alfa Romeo Museum in Arese near Milan opened, after a major restoration project affecting the entire complex and became a place of pilgrimage for Italian car fans around the world. Since the early 1960s, Alfa Romeo had been gathering the most historically valuable specimens from the brand’s history to make them accessible to the public but, in 2011, the plant in Arese ceased production and the museum was closed. The collection fell into a deep sleep, while the Alfisti community waited patiently for news. The end of June 2015 saw the Alfa Romeo museum finally reopen its doors, following a careful restoration. The new museum bears the evocative nickname ‘La macchina del tempo’ and is home to the most significant pieces in Alfa Romeo's historic collection and it is the heart of a genuine “brand centre”, with a bookshop, café, a Documentation Centre, test drive track, events venues and a show-room with a customer delivery area. Six story plans create a link between past, present and future telling the story of an extraordinary brand, its cars, technology and style. The arrival at the Museum is marked by a red canopy, a new sign that testifies the transformation of the management complex and traces the route from the parking to the Museum. The design is dynamic and recalls the "Alfa Romeo genetics" However, the main attraction of this generous and modern design museum is the collection of 69 Alfa Romeos, which most marked not just the development of the brand, but the very history of the automobile itself. From the very first A.L.F.A. car, the 24 HP (1910) to the legendary Mille Miglia winners such as the 6C 1750 Gran Sport driven by Tazio Nuvolari, the 8C coachbuilt by Touring and the Gran Premio 159 “Alfetta 159” world Formula 1 winner driven by Juan Manuel Fangio; from Giulietta to the Championship 33 TT 12. Visitors can marvel at the elegant body forms of the Touring Alfa 8C or admire the curves and lines of the Alfa concept cars that Bertone designed in the 1960s – such as the Carabo and Iguana. And of course, you’ll find Alfa Romeo’s ‘Greatest Hits’ – from the Giulietta Spider of the 1950s through the GTV, to the newer models in the brand’s history. The very essence of the brand has been condensed into three principles: Timeline, which represents industrial continuity; Bellezza (beauty), which teams style with design; Velocità (speed), summing up technology and light weight. The journey through the legend ends with a playful and spectacular finale: some “emotional bubbles” dedicated to the experience of the Alfa Romeo world, with 360° virtual reality film footage, and a full-immersion room where visitors sit in interactive armchairs and watch 4D films dedicated to the legendary successes.

The Alfa Romeo Museum in Arese opens to the public in Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10 am to 6 pm . It is closed on Tuesday. The ticket price to access the Arese Alfa Romeo Museum is 12 Euros .

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