This Typical Italian Motorcycle Garage Is Anything But
Photography by Federico Bajetti
Each time I pass in front of the Officina Autoriparazioni Bianchi, I have flashbacks to the glory days of Moto Guzzi. Better still, flashbacks happen almost every Saturday, where local enthusiasts gather to talk about the time when they were riding 850 LeMans’, V7 Specials, Airone, and Flacone bikes on the narrow, curvy roads surrounding Lake Como.
The Officina has always been located down my street. For years, the eagle of Moto Guzzi’s logo, proudly shown on the top of the old building and the roar of freshly-repaired or restored motorcycles has long reminded me that I live close to something special.
This garage was opened in 1960 by Carlo Bianchi, the father of present owner, Gianbattista. It’s been there for two generations, and I hope it will be so for a third.
Back in the early days, the Officina was also a commissionaria aka, an official Guzzi Dealership. It never had a showroom as the spaces were really tight and the position wasn’t great for showcasing Mandello’s latest. It more resembled a modern day classic car broker, actually, as the owner of the garage would consign the bikes to the customers directly and store the new ones waiting for the purchase.
Normally, they would have two or three bikes for sale, parked in a corner, and then customers eager to ride away would pick their favourite.
Over the years, the officina has also repaired cars, particularly Alfa Romeos and Fiats. It’s often a place for a spontaneous gathering of enthusiasts who still love to stop there and chat on any Saturday afternoon. It’s the perfect place to hear tales from another time, and share company over these immortal machines.