By Kerry Picket, American Thinker
Although Italy has become famous for its famed car companies, there are many other cars for which the country is also famous. Some of these are neither fully electric nor possessed of exclusivity, but offer us a glimpse of another world.
Italy’s Car Museums
Visitors to Italy’s car museums may be surprised to learn that cars have humble beginnings. The Sogno del Campo (“Campo Pezoni”) is located in the Agrigento area of Sicily. More than a 1,500-year-old villa, the Sogno del Campo displays nine classic roads, plus land around the site for photography. This display includes vintage automobile interiors, modern cars built to Italy’s standards, and even automobiles that once served as the scenery. Most important, there is a theme park where visitors can experience driving these vehicles and nearly any other historic vehicle. Tours begin in the afternoon and are offered most days of the week, and children who are 14 or older can bring their own adult companions. Last year, the Association of Italian Automakers reached a joint agreement with the Sogno del Campo and an organization focused on car restoration to enhance and modernize the current museum experience. The arrangement will allow visitors to stand inside the original car versus, for example, standing in the background. The matter is expected to be approved at the next session of the Italian Chamber of Exhibitions and Municipalities.
Carmakers in Northern Italy
In Tuscany and in the famed Lombardy region, a more modern concept is more suitable for the grandchildren of residents of both areas. The Tuscany Car Museum has been busy for more than a year with a 90-minute tour that shows off automobiles manufactured by various Italian carmakers. This includes most of the luxury brands, including Maserati, Ferrari, Lamborghini, and Peugeot, but also excludes Beenerrhein to show off Volkswagen products. During a visit at the Tuscany Car Museum, a bus will take visitors past factories. The former is decidedly rustic and features roadside vegetable gardening and open-air pop-up cafes. The latter is more of a showplace showroom, featuring a number of automobiles.
Apart from the Ferrari, Maserati, and Peugeot luxury vehicles, the galleries contain the Pens and Contes of Fiat, Parnelli, Capri, Lancia, Italika, and Valiant. The wooden-and-metal-paneled museum also features models of cars that are both historic and completely modern. In one room, visitors can examine a Turin Trabant, a once-popular “Pantheretti” which was considered one of the most modern sports cars of the day, and that sold for about $2,000.
The Fabio Castiglioni Museum in Torre dei Fiori, outside Turin, boasts the world’s largest collection of post-war Italian cars. The Fabio Castiglioni Museum features collectors’ collections with a wide range of cars from Fiat, Pininfarina, Porsche, Fiat, and car company art. More particularly, the walls display more than 100 reproductions of cars, arranged in 3-D form, and you can even place yourself in the car yourself. Visitors can also explore the two floors of the grand mansion and see the indoor and outdoor collection.
Though cars are the most popular item at these Italian museums, these automobiles are not for the weak of heart. Many of the Italian cars housed are vintage in appearance, and some are not even powered by gasoline. Their authenticity cannot be questioned, but their high price tags are not. It is this wealth that would bring business to our automotive collections. American car museums have problems reaching the wealth of dollars tourists bring to Italy, and it may be time for a major cultural exchange.
Learn More: Learn More: Italy And The Art Of The Car
Kerry Picket, a writer, was a member of the 101st Red Cross Reception Battalion. He formerly was the editor of Specs Magazine and a public relations representative.
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