A few years ago, Abhi was in Italy for a cover story with Motorcyclist magazine. One of his favorite stops on that trip was Moto Guzzi’s official museum in Mandello del Lario. Even if you’re nearby, it can be difficult to visit because it’s only open from 3pm to 4pm during the week (2:30pm to 4:30pm in July). So with that in mind, here’s a few of his favorites to tempt you in to visiting for yourself!
The good stuff started even before we got into the museum. We killed some time in town before the museum opened up and at one point we parked next to a MG Bellagio, which was never offered in the US.
There’s lots of natural light thanks to the ample windows. This was great to look at the bikes but it made it difficult to get good photos of certain models – especially the ones enclosed in glass!
The story of how Moto Guzzi came to be is interesting and tragic. As a young man, Carlo Guzzi developed a passion for engine building which led to a job at Isotta Fraschini, but got in the way. While serving as a mechanic in the Royal Marines, he befriended two pilots (Giovanni Ravelli, and Giorgio Parodi) and together they decided that they would create a motorcycle company once the Great War was over. The plan was that Guzzi would build the bikes, Ravelli would race them, and Parodi (who was part of a shipping dynasty) would fund it. Unfortunately, Ravelli passed away in a plane crash during a test flight and he never had a chance to see the idea through. Guzzi and Parodi created their first bike (the GP shown above), but Parodis family wanted their name removed to prevent any embarrassment if the motorcycle was a flop. “Società Anonima Moto Guzzi” was born, and the two friends used the eagle logo of the Italian Air Force to commemorate Ravelli.
Once you head upstairs you’ll be greeted by a room of old photos and certificates, as well as a model of the “Galleria del Vento.” You probably know it as a wind tunnel, and Moto Guzzi is particularly proud of theirs. They should be – it was the world’s first wind tunnel built for motorcycles.
Weirdly, the top floor ends with a Centauro (introduced in the mid 90s) and then you go back downstairs to a poorly-thought out final section that just seems to include bikes or engines that weren’t displayed upstairs because they ran out of room. Maybe in a few years this will have some more modern features to continue the chronological theme of the rest of the building.
Remember how I mentioned that the museum was only open for an hour? Turns out an hour isn’t very long when you’re trying to take a lot of pictures. I actually ran out of time at the end so I rushed a few shots of some endurance racers and a MGS-01 – again, the last room seems hastily put together without much in the way of organization. Still, I took lots of photos that I did not show above in a failed attempt at brevity. If you really want to see more, head on over to the complete album. Hope you enjoy!