Updated: Apr 1
Giuseppe Luraghi, to whom this stretch of road is dedicated, had been the president of Alfa Romeo S.p.A. between 1960 and 1974. He died in 1991... At least he hasn't seen what happened to the place he built.
“L’Alfa Romeo non è una semplice fabbrica di automobili: le sue auto sono qualcosa di più che automobili costruite in maniera convenzionale. Ci sono molte marche di automobili, e tra esse l’Alfa occupa un posto a parte. È una specie di malattia, l’entusiasmo per un mezzo di trasporto. È un modo di vivere, un modo tutto particolare di concepire un veicolo a motore. Qualcosa che resiste alle definizioni. I suoi elementi sono come quei tratti irrazionali dello spirito umano che non possono essere spiegati con una terminologia logica. Si tratta di sensazioni, di passione, tutte cose che hanno a che fare più con il cuore che con il cervello”.
Orazio Satta Puliga - Alfa Romeo Head of Engineering 1946-1974
"Alfa Romeo is not simply a car manufacturer: its cars are something more than conventional cars. There are many car brands, and Alfa has a special place among them. It's kind of an illness, this passion for a means of transportation. It's a way of life, a very peculiar way to conceive a motorized vehicle.
It is something that resists definition. Its elements are like those irrational traits of the human spirit that cannot be explained logically. It is about sensations, passion, all things that have more to do with the heart than the brain."
These are possibly the single most romantic words ever uttered about a car factory. And the fact that have been used to describe Alfa Romeo largely explains why the brand still exists and has convinced even the shrewdest, smartest managers to dump untold amounts of money on the quest of returning it to glory, against all odds and every sound financial advice.
Alfa Romeo can be considered almost a religion, and it certainly has its own sacred places: the stunning Museo Storico, housed since 1977 in what used to be the Arese Centro Direzionale complex and polished to a bright sheen by FCA, is the place where the Alfa believers, the Alfisti, make their pilgrimage. Once in a lifetime is a must, but it’s very hard to resist the temptation to come back more times. The Alfa Romeo cult does not frown upon temptations, and resistance... Is futile.
But Arese is much more than that. It is also the place where some Alfisti come to mourn.
Cemeteries were never made for the dead, they are made for those who live on: it gives them a place to mourn, to remember and reflect about what has been and no longer is. So the disemboweled, rotting carcass of the plant that built Giulias and Alfettas is the place where the Alfisti can come to mourn the death of Alfa Romeo... At least as a company: it even has an official date: December the 31st, 1986. By the 1st day of 1987, Alfa Romeo as an entity had ceased to exist, its assets concentrated with those of former Lancia in the new company Alfa Lancia Industriale that, in the plans of Fiat Auto chief Vittorio Ghidella, would lead the Italian industry's charge against the best competition at the high-end of the car market. We all know how it went: Ghidella lost his power war inside Fiat with Romiti, and was out by 1989. Alfa Lancia would only last until 1992. Competitors could rest easy.
The corpse of Arese is the place where one can feel the pain of the broken promises, the waste of opportunities forever lost... And be reminded that even the grandest of human achievement is, in the infinite scheme of things, as short lived and fragile as we are.