I travelled here and there; sette paia di scarpe ho consumate, di tutto ferro per voi ritrovare (Carducci, “I Cipressi”).
Yes, I traveled all over and searched here and there; among an infinite number of shops and Brocante wineries everywhere, amid dust and dirt, risking all sorts of infection more than flea bites; I searched the stands of antiques shops and flea markets of half of Europe for 40 years and … I found … I found the memories of the world. And among them also those that fill my world, that of my passion: Automobilia, everything related to the world of cars, since its dawn.
Yellowed photos, old accessories, precious documents, pieces of iron and pieces of art, everything concerning the world of cars and its history and with it also the stories of men and engines, of passions and pain, competitions and successes. In Cornwall, near Plymouth, a legendary land since Arthur’s time, over the doorway of a very old house I noticed a sign beaten by the wind with the writing: “Antiques”. I went stepped not into a house but into a mine …. all kinds of things. Meanwhile, it was raining outside and I searched, moved, rustled about while the owner, indifferent, kept smoking his pipe near a rusty stove. And I found Alessandro Anzani, the designer of the internal combustion engine.
The one that first crossed the English Channel on Bleriot’s monoplane in 1909. The one that later founded the British Anzani Engine & Co. in partnership with Lorenzo Santoni; ….. and from here other stories were born, that of Alfa Romeo and that of Siai Marchetti. He was there waiting for me engraved on bronze and marble plates, perhaps a bit funereal, but eager to see the light again, after more than 60 years.
And near Biarritz, in southern France, once the holiday destination of kings and celebrities, I saw a dusty wooden slot machine dating back to the mid-twenties appear from a cave similar to the previous one. It was a museum piece. Beautiful, in good working conditions and…cheating. You could never win!
And then there is Porta Portese, the legendary Roman flea market on the edge of Trastevere, where everything can be found. Old canvases that, once cleaned, turned into Raphael or Fragonard paintings, antiques of all kinds, yellowed and unique photos ranging from the “Duce” of fascist Italy to unknown characters eager to live again. And then there are those who push you and those who try to con you or to pick your pockets, but what a thrill when you find something unique and then, at home, in peace, you can clean it, rediscover it and ….bring it back to life.
The images used in this article are for illustrative purposes and belong to their respective owners.