1975 – 2017
40 years of RIAR (Registro Italiano Alfa Romeo)
The early days. Men and Events.
Car and motorbike races have always been my greatest passion, and since the mid ’60s I frequented in Rome legendary brothers Zambotti, in Via Alessandria 40, a meeting place for Roman motorbike enthusiasts who raced with their aged Norton Manx and Bianchi in the 350 and 500 categories while I had an even older and junkier Aermacchi Ala d’Oro. For cars the point of reference and meeting place was instead Franco Angelini, the wizard of the GTAs at the Circonvallazione Gianicolense, in a super-equipped and super-clean Alfa Romeo workshop with a shiny red floor, the meeting place of real drivers including Ignazio Giunti, Baronio, Radicella, De Angelis, Francisci and of many enthusiasts, famous entrepreneurs, well established professionals, powerful politicians, fruit and vegetable sellers – all of them meeting there, indistinctly, united by their shared passion for Alfa Romeo, there to admire Franco’s miracles and to say nonsense about past and future races.
For me, however, those were hard times: always broke, with no sponsors, with the family allowance dried up time ago, yet I still had lots of enthusiasm. And to satisfy my expensive passion, I had to roll up my sleeves, study a lot and work even more. In the seventies, I left an important advertising agency, where I managed to conquer a role as a shareholder, to accept a proposal from Antonio Bisaglia, at the time Minister of State Participations who I had met for work, to manage the External Relations Office of Egam – Ente Gestione Aziende Minerarie e Metallurgiche – a holding company of a varied group of state companies that was under the control of said Ministry. Among them, a few mechanical and textile companies stood out, such as, in particular, Savio located in Pordenone in whose parking lot once I saw a beautiful 6C 2500 Sport “Freccia d’Oro” plum-coloured! La Gobbona! It was love at first sight.
It cost me a long negotiation with a colleague, a sumptuous lunch, a 200,000 Italian Lira check and it became my official car as well as the subject of scorn by some friends, but it was the way to join not only a nice group of Roma-based Alfa Romeo fans but especially, later on, the Alfa Romeo Italian Register.
In the meantime, my mother, a hidden supporter of my motor-sports “initiatives”, told Wanda Bevilacqua Morini, owner of a famous Roman tailor’s shop in Via Veneto of which she was a client, about my new passion and Wanda made her husband Lamberto Morini contact me, a forerunner of historical motor-sports, who was very expert on these things and various others.
Lamberto came to visit me in my office, in via Sardegna, just a few steps away from his wife’s atelier and right in front of the legendary Dalla Vecchia Alfa Romeo salon where a magnificent white 6C 2500 Sport cabriolet dated 1949, with Ghia bodywork, showed off its beauty. In the following years, it became part of the collection of a dear friend of mine and member of the Riar, along with another exceptional Rome-based Alfa Romeo: the 6C 2300 Pescara dated 1938, ex-Marzoli. Lamberto was an elegant gentleman of other times, a very aristocratic and refined person, a polyglot antique dealer and a famous “tombeur de femmes”. We became fast friends.
Under the guide of Lamberto Morini, I discovered a fascinating world populated by equally extraordinary people. Among them there were brothers Gianni and Nicola Bulgari, Baron Giorgio Franchetti and his avant-garde artists: Francesco Santovetti, Roberto Bonazzi, and Franco Lisarelli, an old-fashioned Rome-based Alfa Romeo motorman and former chief mechanic at Palazzo Venezia for the Duce’s cars. This man was a real living book of anecdotes and history and still worked in an old garage behind the Ministry of Naval Defence, near Piazza del Popolo and a short walk from the studio of artist Schifano, one of Franchetti’s favorites.