Featured: GALLERY: A Guided Tour of the extraordinary and fascinating Museo Storico Alfa Romeo

GALLERY: A Guided Tour of the extraordinary and fascinating Museo Storico Alfa Romeo

By Mark Riccioni
April 9, 2024
4 Comments

Later this year Alfa Romeo will celebrate its 114th birthday. And while that figure isn’t exactly a milestone, it does outline just how much history the Milan-native outfit has behind it. One that spans even longer than the likes of Chevrolet, Toyota and Volkswagen.

Given this vast timeline, it’s unsurprising to learn that cars make up just a portion of its history. From trucks and tractors to planes and marine engines, Alfa Romeo has tried its hand at most engineering tasks. Not all have been especially successful, but when they get it right, you know the result is nothing short of a masterpiece.

This isn’t your bog-standard, pop-up museum either. Located on the outskirts of Milan, the Arese plant was originally built for construction of the Giulia and GT models before becoming Alfa’s ‘official’ museum in 1976. In the decades after, it wasn’t what you’d call a ‘typical’ museum either, rather more a storage facility. Lack of signage also meant if you could find it, great. Come and have a look. But if you couldn’t? Try again another day… just not on Tuesdays when they’re closed.

With so many years to cover – including their centenary in 2010 – the need to create something special and celebratory became high on Alfa’s agenda. And, in 2024, it’s easily one of the best automotive museums on the planet. Documenting every step of the 114-year timeline for a mere 12 euros entrance fee. Thought you knew all of Alfa’s secrets? You’re in for a surprise here.

Spread across six floors and 52,000 sq. ft. Museo Storico Alfa Romeo was renovated and reopened on the 24th of June 2015, 105 years (to the day) after the company was formed. The Arese factory continued producing cars right up until 2002 (with engine production lasting until 2006) but now its sole responsibility is preserving the rich and diverse history of one of Italy’s most-loved carmakers.

Within Museo Storico Alfa Romeo lurks more than 250 cars, with around 70 on display at any given time depending on exhibition. But all of the cars here remain in full working order, a fact which is celebrated by the museum’s curator – Lorenzo Ardizio – who insists each car be started up at least once a year. In Lorenzo’s words, ‘cars are one of the few objects that are not static. They’re important and worth preserving. In fact, cars are classified by the Italian government in the same way as violins.’

In addition to the cars, Museo Storico Alfa Romeo also houses engines. Lots of engines. Land, air and even marine engines are strewn across the museum, reminding you of just how extensive the Alfa Romeo engineering catalogue really is. Around half are on display – usually adjacent to key cars or years – the other remain safely in storage on site. The sheer size and scale is often hard to comprehend, like the 18-cylinder, 2000-horsepower RC3 radial engine first built in 1937.

 

That might sound like an eternity ago, but Alfa’s history goes even further than its 1910 inception. Before this year, there was SAID – Societa Anonima Italiana Darracq – a car company making automobiles in the outskirts of Milan. Unfortunately, these cars weren’t really up to scratch with many struggling to navigate the hills of the Southern Alps. So, faced with failure, chairman Cavaliere Ugo Stella decided it was time to start fresh with a new name, new company and of course a new attitude. The result? Societa Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobili. Otherwise known as Alfa for short.

Picking a favourite Alfa Romeo is a bit like choosing your favourite child. You absolutely shouldn’t, and nine times out of ten you’ll default to the most reasonable answer of loving them all equally. But if we’re really being pushed, the Tipo 33/2 from 1967 still remains one of the best-looking race cars of all time. Even by today’s standards it’s achingly good. What must have people thought back in the 60s?

One thing’s for sure, spend enough time in the Museo Storico Alfa Romeo and you’re guaranteed to change your mind on multiple occasions. This is a place much more than simply home to a few old Alfas; it’s brilliantly laid out in chronological order, allowing you to fully appreciate the breadth of Alfa Romeo over the years. Whether you’re in it for the history or just to kill some time, it’s an absolute must.

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NadiaEira
NadiaEira
16 days ago

You can be certain that spending a significant amount of time in the Museo Storico Alfa Romeo will definitely cookie clicker 2 lead to you changing your mind on several occasions.

yifitvaz
yifitvaz
17 days ago

I’ve seen children as young as eight years old playing a game called run 3. You can tell a lot about people through their voices. Because they don’t actually competitively play the game and they occasionally simply do whatever they want in it, they can be quite unpleasant. They also tend to make a lot of noise. Nonstop talking and yelling.

samantha
samantha
22 days ago

Happy 114th birthday, Alfa Romeo. Here’s to a brand with such a rich history and a Wordle Unlimited legacy of innovation and passion.

lyly
lyly
29 days ago

Alfa Romeo’s 114-year history is more than just cars; it’s a journey through Retro Bowl engineering innovation. From trucks to planes, their endeavors have been diverse, sometimes challenging, but often resulting in masterpieces.

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