Because Italy is more than a geographic expression..

Alessi S.P.A. US

Friday, March 9, 2018

Seminal Italian Bike Companies

What separates Italian bikes from all others is their pedigree. Few can match the status of these historically important brands that have richly contributed to the sport of road racing.

Alas, the aura and legend of bikes designed and made by Italian hands are increasingly under more and more duress. It's a pity.

Taiwan is now king but I hope one day Italian bikes reestablish their well-deserved reputation of excellence much like the resurgence we see in Italian motorcycles.

For now, the aura and mythical status of the 'Made in Italy' mark remains important.

Italy's economy, however, as a whole is not performing well and its current political situation is not helping matters. The parochial mindset gripping Italy (see soccer with the national team and Serie A dismal state at the moment) needs to change. This is why it's a good thing North American Italians proud of their heritage are willing to invest in soccer teams in Italy.

They bring with them passion, money and exposure to a wider audience. And how do Italians react? These are not 'real' Italians while making it hard for them to operate through the Kafka-esque, dismal Byzantium, myopic 'it's better to be a big fish in a small pond' mental posture that is Italian business as Mike Piazza is learning as owner of Reggiana.

It's an unfortunate way to look at things.

So this will be the challenge.

On a personal level, I own a 'Made in Canada' bike of Italian origin. The owner is a passionate Italian bike maker who settled here in Montreal. I'm proud to own it. I would also buy a 'Made in the U.S.A.' (Moots bikes attract me) and where I could find one a 'Made in Italy' before I buy one manufactured in Taiwan.

It just doesn't have the history, panache and soul. Honda makes fantastic cars that are reliable.

They're also boring.

Alfa-Romeo may not match the level of reliability but man oh man they more than make up for it on driver experience.

Same with the bicycles. A Pinarello is still a Pinarello.


Friday, January 5, 2018

Manufacturing Off To A Great Start In 2018

I really need to quell this laziness.


Buon Anno a tutti!

And it's a happy new year it looks like in Italy's manufacturing industry.

"The Italian plastic and rubber machinery manufacturing sector is set to post 5 percent growth for the year 2017, with an estimated all-time high of $5.4 billion worth of production, according to industry association Amaplast.
Citing figures by Italy's state statistics body ISTAT, Amaplast also reported a 12 percent increase in imports of machinery and a 16 percent year-on-year rise in machinery exports in the first nine months of 2017...."

Thursday, December 7, 2017

The Return Of A Legend To F1

The resurgence of the Alfa-Romeo brand continues as the auto legend announces a return to F1 in a partnership with Sauber.

This is great news given Alfa's long and rich racing tradition. It never felt right they were not involved in racing. The base root of what Italian cars are about is racing. 

Monday, November 27, 2017

Redi And The Value OF Controlled Experiments

In keeping with the spirit I outlined in the last post, it's worth mentioning from time to time the work of Italians in the field of science.

Francesco Redi is one such person.

The interesting aspect of Redi's role in science - using a controlled environment to examine the theory of spontaneous generation - is that it actually shows the Church was not hostile to science as we've become way too accustomed to thanks to the misunderstood story of Galileo.

The issue wasn't that the Church felt Galileo was challenging it. On the contrary, the Church was a purveyor and promoter of science. In Galileo they were up against a stubborn and resolute individual who insisted on writing about the Copernicus Theory that the Church demanded proof and which Galileo could not deliver.

This was the crux of the dispute.

Redi was Galileo's contemporary and his work and its relationship to the Church was nothing like what Galileo endured thus lending credence that the Church was not a backward institution rooted in superstition. Perhaps, as Scientus (in link above) observes, Redi was just better at arguing his position? Interesting notion and quite possible indeed.

This is an inaccurate and incorrect view just as scholars claim the essence of Christianity is aggression and racism.

To take such a stance, in my view, is unproductive if not tragic.

In fact, Italians practically invented the scientific method. Again Scientus explains:

"It is difficult to credit any one individual with the invention of the scientific method. The development of the scientific method seems more an evolution than a discovery or invention. Although Galileo is often credited with its invention, there were well known physicists and philosophers who were advocating similar ideas and conducting similar experiments before and during his time. Galileo's writings on method focused on the demonstrative regress of his predecessors at the University of Padua and the Jesuits' Collegio Romano. Giuseppe Moletti, a professor at the University of Padua, performed and recorded a well-designed and well-controlled experiment on free fall when Galileo was only 12 years old (see Galileo's Contemporaries). Another criticism of the single inventor approach is based on the belief that craftsmen throughout the world could not have achieved such high levels of craftsmanship without using the approach described in the scientific method."

Sunday, November 26, 2017

The Inventiveness Of The Roman Catholic Church In Science: Reflecting Telescope

Not sure, if this will be a reoccurring feature but I'd like to explore a little more the role of the Roman Catholic Church in the development of Western science. Catholicism, of all the organized religions, was possibly the most energetic and committed to science.

A monumental debt is owed to the Church for its work in astronomy, mathematics and other branches of science. For some reason, despite their contributions to the development of science (astronomy, math, physics, philosophy etc.) and reason, the names of these clergymen are often ignored.

I happened upon, which spurred this post, a wiki entry on one Father Niccolo Zucchi.

Zucchi was an astronomer and physicist who invented the reflecting telescope.

Moving on, I'm probably going to post more about the Roman Catholic Church's inventiveness.

Here's a link to discussing the evolution of the reflecting telescope:

"The early history of the reflecting telescope has its surprises. The builder of that first crude telescope, Nicolo Zucchi, and the scientist who published the Mersenne telescope design, Marin Mersenne, were both Catholic priests. The involvement of church scientists in the early development of both the reflecting and refracting telescopes is often missed."

Friday, November 17, 2017

Where Have The Great Italian Car Designers Gone?

Nice run down of a group of designers keeping the Italian automotive design heritage and legacy alive from Automobile magazine.

Staying with Automobile magazine here's a compilation of their 25 best car designers in history.

Where seven Italians plus two hybrid Italians (bringing the number to nine) make the grade. The USA come in with eight where they led in production design as opposed to design idea leadership dominated by Italians according to Automobile.

Let's keep it going. 25 of the most influential designers working today of which four are from Italy - De Silva, Ramaciotti, Giugiaro, and Giolito. 

Monday, November 13, 2017

Stunned: Italy Fails To Qualify For World Cup For First Time Since 1958

Like so many dedicated fans of the Azzurri, I was left disappointed (but not surprised) by their inability to qualify for the World Cup. In fact, I admit I never thought I'd see this day. Sure, poor performances happen but not to not qualify?

It's actually quite a seismic event.

Italy is a soccer power on par with Brazil, Germany and Argentina historically. To not see them in is surreal as it is irritating. The image of this great soccer nation has been hit no doubt about it. Now, they're not even on current par with great sides like Belgium, Portugal, France, Spain and - gulp! - England.

Instead, Italy finds itself on the sidelines along with another power that lost its way in The Netherlands. And even the United States who were a fairly consistent performer until this campaign. And let's not forget Argentina barely qualified despite their talent.

The question is, what will they do about it?

At this point, the look to the future begins now but this means the main 'mummies' as Paolo Cannavaro put it running the FIGC must be removed. First order of business is to get to Euro.

Beyond this, I'm not overly confident in what's in the development system and the work of Di Biagio at the U-21 level. So I expect things to continue like this before it gets better. Unless, they fully commit themselves to repairing the damage made to Italian soccer.

Ventura must do the honourable thing and resign even though he has said he won't. Which is baffling considering he failed in spectacular fashion. There's no excuse for his tactical decisions and keeping Insigne to 15 minutes of playing time. None. ZERO goals in 180 minutes against a side that Sassuolo could probably beat. No disrespect to Sweden as they had a good qualifying campaign and deserved their victory. Good luck to them in Russia.

In order for real changes to be made, Tavecchio must also be dismissed. That he was re-elected despite his unsavoury racist comments said a lot about the FIGC. Adriano Galliani for supporting him? Fuori!

This bunch then handed the keys to a Ferrari to a 70 year-old who was clearly less about change and more about staying set in his ways. The kicker? In a country that has produced hands down among the best coaches in soccer history on a consistent basis including three who won titles for teams in the Big Five leagues and having won four out of the last seven English titles they settle on Ventura?

A country that boasts coaches (never mind that country also produces some of the best referees) that have won an endless stream of trophies couldn't have chosen better?

The shocking lack of depth is also of serious concern. We see at the U-17 and U-21 levels Italy routinely smacked by countries like Spain now. England too has gotten its act together and are on the rise. Who would have thought Italy was to become England?

Without key obstacles removed, there can be no 'revolution' as Corriere dello Sporto asserts must happen.

The FIGC disgracefully used band aid applications to mask the wounds we all saw with Italian soccer over the last two World Cup campaigns. It's been said that unfortunately it took such an event to take place in order to consider a direct overhaul. It's been done. Germany hit darks days in the 1990s and 2000s and revamped themselves (although they never had the dubious distinction and trauma of not qualifying for a major tournament) and came back as strong as ever. Spain too has its system down pat. France is another country finding its consistent identity and more recently Portugal has joined the ranks.

Will Italy (and for that matter The Netherlands) rejoin them?

What a brutal end to Buffon's illustrious career. The entire crud in the FIGC let him - arguably the greatest keeper ever - down.

What kind of class is Buffon? When he heard the fans disrespecting the Swedish anthem (something I could do without and was ashamed to hear) he was clapping in defiance. He understood this was not polite or just.

Good luck to Sweden in Russia.

Two images these bumbling nincompoops gave fans today: Italy's most creative player Insigne rotting on the bench and Gigi Buffon crying for failing supporters. That's ALL on the FIGC. All of it.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Speed Up Factory Motorcycle Team

Speed Up is a Moto2 bike manufacturer. 

The company hasn't achieved the legacy of renowned bikes like Bimota, Aprilia, Ducati etc. but that's because it's very young having been founded in 2010.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Alfa Romeo Introduces The Stelvio

It's always tricky whenever an established sports car manufacturer dabbles outside its area of expertise and so it is with Alfa's decision to head into the SUV market for the first time with the Stelvio named after the legendary Stelvio Pass made famous at the Giro d'Italia.

I have no idea how it will go but Car and Driver gave it a 4-star review.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Fornasari Left Its Mark

I didn't realize Fornasari declared bankruptcy in 2015. Quite the impressive legacy during its 16 year run nonetheless. The company was known for its racing buggies and SUVs like the RR600 picture above. What an awesome looking bomb that vehicle!

Another independent artist-design auto company moves into Italy's long legacy of automakers.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

LaFerrari: A Hybrid Beast

Top Gear concludes:

"Ferrari LaFerrari review: a V12 with KERS electrification that amounts to 950bhp of pure industrial awesomeness."

The LaFerrari recently sold for $3.7 million at auction.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Ferrari And Bianchi Join Forces

The iconic mint green colours of Bianchi and Ferrari's racing red - two hundred years of excellence in their respective sporting fields between them - will collaborate to produce new models.

Look forward to what they come up with if anything to see how far Italy can push bicycle racing technology.