Tag Along On A Sicilian Treasure Hunt With A Step-Nose Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint GT
Photography by Armando Musotto
I’ve been a creature of exploration in this wonderful automobile environment for some time now, and one of the things that unites all the enthusiasts that I’ve met along the way is the concept of development, whether it refers to how our builds and restorations are coming along, or just how we change as people. There are stages of passion in between the young kid, the hobbyist, and the lifelong fanatic, but we generally start small, perhaps imitating the older people around us, like a parent or grandparent. The innocence of youth mixed with a burgeoning passion can give rise to wonderful things, and this story is about what happens when you stick with it.
I’ve always hated being overly social, but when I discovered Instagram my idea of the concept changed and though I am the same person, it’s allowed me to meet so many more people that otherwise might have remained strangers. In regards to the day represented in these photos, it all started when Andrea decided to write to me. Andrea is a huge fan of classic cars, and was excited to find another person (me) that shared this beloved “sickness” of ours. He said he would like to introduce me to a guy with an overwhelming affinity for a certain Milanese house of motoring.
After a very respectable schedule, clearly not respected by its constituents (it’s always like that!), my journey to Marsala begins. 120km to cross, I think about what I can expect upon arrival. The blue and yellow shades of the landscape framed in the windshield mark the land of the saltworks, and among the low houses of the suburban area of Marsala nearby, I meet Andrea, who proceeds to take me to one of those hidden places in the world where you would never think to find a nugget of a gold. We have a rule in Sicily about restaurants, similar to the one about books and their covers…
We arrived in front of an imposingly large white building. A worn structure occupying a bleak bit of space, a scene to be overlooked. It presents like an aging corporate structure, but in reality, it is a treasure chest.
Like a vision, Alessio comes out of a gray door surrounded by wonderful light. Gray suit and T-shirt, if I saw him around the city, I would probably never think of him as the dedicated car enthusiast that he is. We are in his element though, and he welcomes me inside this special cave, all but overflowing with relics of the past and spare pieces for the vague future.
I had never been in a place like this, where rust blends with the sheet metal, where the cleaned and prepped parts blend with the slimy spares soaked with oil and gasoline. You can’t fake this kind of life.
We introduce ourselves and the young but highly-trained mechanical engineer tells me about his adventures, about the passion for cars transmitted down to him from his father, about an adolescence filled with the inner workings of automobiles. He has an obvious love for mechanics, but in a land full of talent but with few opportunities, for those who want to really engage it can be hard to make it. Regardless, every story he tells is ringing with enthusiasm and a passion that wavers not.
This cave acts as testimony to his deep-rooted passion for the automaker of Arese, which, for him has become almost an institution, a muse factory. It has made Aressio into the kind of devotee with lists of part numbers committed to long term memory.
Parts, engines, posters, a pair of rusty Giuliettas and various scooters are a few of the landmarks in here. It’s a massive combination of time capsule and toy box, a place where I would be content to lock myself up for hours with an armchair with a good glass of Marsala wine.
On the gray, oil-stained walls hang old Alfa posters, bits of Michelin memorabilia, and stacks of scale models on shelves and every other flat surface.
There aren’t too many who live their passion so completely as this nowadays. Most people with this much stuff are trying to sell it. Instead, Alessio loves it and keeps it, adds to the pile. He is a guardian of history and its collector, and loves to bring to light what is now forgotten by most, a mechanical and artistic mix that has a ben supplanted by a heartless modernity aimed at the bland. People are much more interested on infotainment and assisted parking than the way a door handle looks in low light. Understandable, sure, but what a pity.
But it is when he raises the canvas covering his crown jewel, restored by his own hands, that Alessio truly enters his element. His eyes reflecting the crimson red of the work of art that I mine are seeing for the first time.
From underneath a blue tarpaulin, which raises a fair amount of dust, a GT 1300 “scalino” (step-nose) emerges, presented in dealership condition. Over a hundred thousand examples of the slim sports coupe designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro were produced, but only one found its way to Alessio.
Well-equipped with disc brakes and lightweight twin-cam motors, the lithe bodywork and driving characteristics contained within have made the 105 and 115 series Alfas desirable machines since their inception, but back when they were new especially so, thanks in part to price points that were squarely in line with the economic possibilities of the time.
Alessio has managed to restore this wonderful car throughout his youth, all by himself, thanks only to his hands and his mindset. It was a challenging undertaking that required plenty of sacrifice and the occasional road trip to score the right part, and it is a story that always reminds me what’s possible when true determination is at play. He has been restoring this car in one form or another since he was 16 years old.
We slip into the car and head out on a short drive to reach Saline Della Laguna, a beautiful nature reserve that helps me imagine the Alfa as something more alive than its construction of metal would suggest. This is more than a collection of parts, and the soul of this car has literally left its marks on its proud owner.
The salt flats are a testimony to a wonderful time for our land and to a product that we export all over the world. And what better marriage, if not this? Red and white, Alfa Romeo and Saline, quality Italian products that have long represented our land throughout the world.
The sun falls on the salt flats and the white begins to merge with late orange. Beautiful colors that drape over the curves of the Alfa, which stands still but alert, lizard-like, in the middle of an abandoned mansion’s forecourt, enjoying the last snouts of the sun retracting below the horizon.