Because Italy is more than a geographic expression..

Alessi S.P.A. US

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Italian App Focuses On Cervical Fitness

"Cervical fitness. With the use of technology on the rise, the cervical area of the body is not getting the exercise and movement for which it is designed creating a need for special medical interest created to work just with patients with neck pain.  Patients are given exercises to complete by physiotherapists and chiropractors, but either don’t rigidly follow these regimens or don’t follow them properly.  An Italian team has created an app they hope will change all that and rid the world of neck pain, too, and they’ve launched an IndieGoGo campaign to finish programing and distributing it."

More here. 

And Happy New Year to one and all!

What Does A Ferrari Army Look Like?

Well:

"...Aside from the opportunity to admire a stunning array of Prancing Horse cars designed specifically for the track, attendees  also witnessed an impressive gathering of Ferraris from all over the Middle East.
With a LaFerrari leading the way, the parade saw the Abu Dhabi track thronged by over 200 models of every age and representing most of the States in the area. Also flying at the event were many of the UAE’s flags in celebration of the 43rd anniversary of the UAE, adding an extra layer of significance to this meeting of Italian passion, technology and design in one of the world’s most economically important regions..."

Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Legendary 1929 Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 SS


Chrysler's Connection To Italy

Chrysler's history with Italy actually stretches a little beyond Fiat's recent purchase of the American car company.

Back in the 1950s, they hooked up with Ghia to produce magnificent concept cars including the GS-1 Chrysler Ghia (1953), the handsomely gorgeous Dual-Ghia (1958 - pictured from My Car Quest) and 'Thomas Special':





From Conceptcarz:

"After World War II many maruqee's saw their production figures begin to rise while Chrysler's stayed stead but falling behind the rest of the pack. Chrysler looked to Europe for inspiration.

A war torn Europe was recovering from years of battle. Many factories had been ruined and many intellectual knowledge had been destroyed. Fiat invited Chrysler to Italy to aid in their rebuilding and to train their technicians in the latest methods and techniques of automotive production. This included teaching them modernized ways of constructing cars and the most effective means of assembly line techniques. Not only was Chrysler imparting knowledge to a struggling economy, they were gaining knowledge on the art of carrozziere, Italian meaning custom coach building. This was a dying art but had been very popular in the early 1900s. A manufacturer would supply a rolling chassis to a custom coachbuilder to complete. The coachbuilder often corresponded with the customer to determine the exact specifications, resulting in unique creations.

Chrysler began discussions with one of the most famous coachbuilders of all time, Pinin Farina. However, it would be Ghia in Turin who would be commissioned to build a series of cars inspired by the designs of Virgil Exner, Chryslers chief stylist. Ghia and Chrysler continued working together for 15 years creating some of the most memorable Chryslers of all time."


Ghia's partnership with Chrysler was not exclusive over the years having also corroborated with Volkswagen, Plymouth and Ford.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Airbus Helicopter Deal For Avio

More technology news:

"Airbus Helicopters and Avio Aero have signed an agreement for the supply of the transmissions of future advanced helicopters: Avio Aero will manufacture and test gearboxes for further installation on Airbus new generation twin-engine helicopters, including X4. "

"...Italy is home to the main headquarters and important plants in Turin, Pomigliano d’Arco (Naples) and Brindisi. Worldwide it employees 4700 people (about 4000 in Italy) and has production plants in Poland, Brazil and China."


Italian Hydraulics Haul Canadian Hogs

How do you say oink, oink, moo, moo in Italian?

As is usually the case, English translation can be improved on company websites. Pezzaioli is based in the northern city of Brescia.

From Trucknews.com:

“...Years ago, when I was young—and my father started the business in 1951—the way we hauled livestock was barbaric. First off, we didn’t know better and we definitely didn’t have the technology. Now we certainly know better,” said Luckhart..."

"...Luckhart was contacted by the Italian trailer maker Pezzaioli, inquiring about the North American market, and after touring each other’s companies, Luckhart struck a deal to be Pezzaioli ‘s North American distributor. In return, Pezzaioli committed to supplying HarBra with between 100 and 120 trailers over the next two years.

“We know these things are very well built. I can say when they’re better, and they are better than mine. I can recognize that.”

"...Like the trailers he was modifying, the Italian ones have hydraulic decks, but they offer a number of features Luckhart didn’t offer including a double-skinned, Styrofoam-insulated roof that raises to offer ventilation, double-walled sides, fans, a heated water system with stainless steel tanks, water bowls for cattle, and stainless steel air tanks. And while these trailers are designed and built in Italy, they aren’t too European for the North American market."

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Italy To Provide F-35 Maintenance

I don't post too many news articles on this sit but this is relevant I should think:

"...Lockheed is developing three variants of the F-35 for the U.S. military and eight partners that funded its development: Britain, Australia, Italy, Norway, Turkey, the Netherlands, Denmark and Canada. Israel, Japan and South Korea have also placed orders for the planes.

The Marine Corps plans to start initial combat use of the planes in July 2015, with the Air Force following suit in 2016.

In Italy, much of the work will be done by Finmeccanica SpA's Alenia, which manages a $1 billion-plus government-owned final assembly and checkout facility in Cameri."

Italy continues its strong aviation tradition:

"Italy’s Cameri air base will become the European hub for maintenance of F-35 fighter jets stationed in Europe, the U.S. Defense Department said Thursday.

“Italy invested nearly $1 billion in building” the Cameri facility in northern Italy, “and it’s very hard, on a cost basis and value basis, to match that,” Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan, the Pentagon’s F-35 program manager, told reporters in Washington, D.C. “Italy is a stable and very important partner.”

Read more here: http://www.star-telegram.com/news/business/aviation/article4427578.html#storylink=cpy

Saturday, December 6, 2014

10 Italian Inventions That Changed The World


Spotlight: Mille Anni di Scienza

Italian Inventions

I think I'm going to cross-post this with The Commentator.

List of Italian inventions.

That's a lot of them. And those are just the 'patented' ones. Imagine those they come up with that don't get recognized.

Red Beauty

Lamborghini Miura:


Automobile Book: Italian Legends

Italian Auto Legends by photographer Michel Zumbrunn.

Looking into buying it myself. Only problem is I have four other books on the table including books on Spanish, German and Italian soccer.

I have to pace myself given we are in December - a high expense month.


Concept Mini Superleggera


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Brera's The Word

Brera is a busy name. First, it's a district in Milan. Second, it's got an Alfa-Romeo named after it...




...and third it's a luxury watch.






Saturday, November 1, 2014

Ammunition Innovation: Fiocchi



Here's a tour of the Fiocchi factory founded in 1876 based in Northern Italy. As is the case with many great Italian companies, it is still private and family owned.



Italy is the 7th largest manufacturer of weapons in the world. It places eight companies in the top 100.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Making Italy A Start-Up Nation

From ZDNet.

Excerpt:

"On paper, the idea of synergies between startups and more established companies is a no-brainer. Italy has a strong tradition of manufacturing, especially in small and mid-sized enterprises which are now struggling to keep up with the pace of innovation.

Wouldn't it make sense for them to partner with startups that would function almost as external R&D departments? Unfortunately, things are not so simple."

Italy's stagnant growth in start-ups is a cautionary tale for us in North America as the bureaucracy slowly grows in size and influence.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Ski Boot Dominance

I was shopping for some bicycle parts today and got to talking to the owner of the shop. The conversation took us to other sports one of them being skiing. Turns out, according the gentleman, Italy produces 90% of the world's binding buckles on ski boots.

Once again reminding me why I keep this little read blog going.

Italy is far too interesting an industrial nation to not follow.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Italian Contribution To Industry In The 20th Century Significant

There are, nonetheless, challenges in the 21st century.



I know. I gotta improve on my titles.


Friday, August 22, 2014

Italian Industrialists And Star Athletes

This image of Eddie Merckx and Tullio Campagnolo (Campagnolo's story here) reminded me of other close relationships held between other Italian industrialists and athletes. Notably, Enzo Ferrari and Gilles Villeneuve and Gianni Agnelli and Michel Platini come to mind.



Quite the pairings do you not agree?

Explore Italian Technology In A Video

Nice summation of Italian technology:


Barsanti And Matteucci's Revolutionary Internal Combustion Engine

The only video I could find in English:





Saturday, August 2, 2014

The Carburetor's Italian Roots

Was bumming around the Interglobalwebnet (my word) looking for content for the site and stumbled on Dell'Orto carburetors. A couple of things. First off, the company's product (they make electronic injection systems as well) fits right into the theme of this blog. Second, they're widely highly-regarded. Third, they have a funky1960s trademark as you can see in the image to the left.

Founded in 1933, Dell'Orto is located in Northern Italy.

Speaking of which, the carburetor was invented by Luigi De Cristoforis. How there isn't more information on him or a wiki entry is beyond me. This is the only thing I could find - in Italian. But it's interesting as he rides along with Karl Benz (image from Monti.it -see link).



Tuesday, July 29, 2014

La Gazzetta Dello Sport Pretty In Pink But Yellow For One Day

Sometimes this blog is all but fun and games.

Neat picture of La Gazzetta dello Sport going yellow in honor of Vincenzo Nibali's victory in the Tour de France.

For those not familiar or aware, the Gazzetta is Italy's most popular sports paper known for its iconic pink pages.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Italian Cycling Teams

Over the years there have been 47 cycling teams based in Italy; more than any country. The United States is next with 38 followed by France with 24, The Netherlands 23, Belgium 17, Germany 10 and Spain 9.

Italy's rich cycling tradition doesn't begin and end with cyclists who have had their fair share of world championship titles and gold medals.

Beyond this there are the companies that build the bikes and parts as well as those who sponsor teams. For example, Lampre-Merida and Cannondale are currently competing in the Tour de France.

Since the Tour is currently being contested (with Vincenzo Nibali in the yellow jersey after 14 Stages of 21), I thought it would be interesting to bring up the only three Italian teams to win the Tour de France. Those being Faema, Molteni and Mercato Uno.

Of the three, Molteni was a family run ream who had on its roster arguably the greatest cyclist ever in Belgian Eddie Merckx. Needless to say, they won a bunch of races between 1958 and 1976. 663 to be exact. Three of those were Tour de France wins under Merckx.

The other two teams feature Faema and Mercato Uno. Merckx won his first tour in 1969 with Faema - an innovative espresso machine manufacturer. The team's only victory.

Mercato Uno is a supermarket chain based in San Marino and was one of the strongest teams in the peloton throughout the 1990s (the golden age of Italian sports) with legendary cyclist Marco Pantani serving as its leader. Under Pantani, Meracto Uno won the Giro d'Italia and Tour de France as well as many other races and competitions.

*Image Merckx with Faema; the Velostore.


Sunday, July 13, 2014

Bikes At Le Tour de France

Four Italian bikes (one of which - Kemo -  is actually designed in Switzerland but assembled in Italy) are featured among the 22 teams at the Tour de France: Colnago, Bianchi, and Pinarello. There are two teams based in Italy (Cannondale and Lampre-Merida) who are not using Italian bikes.

Link to Road.cc.

Holland's Lars Boom rode a Bianchi to a stage win (which featured cobblestone) at the TDF.

The U.S. is the only other country to have four bicycles in the tour with Scott, Cannondale, Trek, and Specialized (who are associated with three teams). A couple of Swiss (Team Machine and Kemo mentioned earlier), German (Focus and Canyon) and French bikes (Look, FDj.fr) are participating as well. Other bikes include Fuji from Japan, and Belgium's Ridley is sponsoring its compatriots in the Lotto-Bellisol team.

Canadian bike manufacturer Cervelo are associated with Garmin-Sharp.

Image from cyclingnews.


Sunday, July 6, 2014

American Film Classic And Italian Cars

Cars and motorcycles in the 1953 movie 'Roman Holiday' starring Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn.

Lancia, Alfa Romeo, Fiat, Moto Guzzi, Bianchi all represented and of course the iconic Piaggio Vespa.

Wonderful, everlasting movie.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Motorcyle Race Milano-Taranto 1938; All-Time Great Motorcyles



Let's stay on the motorcycle theme with a history of Moto Guzzi:



The Gilera Rondine - which along with the Benelli 250 - is considered among the most influential bikes in history. The Japanese took the Gilera back home home to Japan to study.



Gear Patrol ranks the 50 most iconic motorcycles. Japan leads the list with 16 followed by Italy with 10, the UK and USA 9, Germany 3, and New Zealand, Belgium and Austria each with one.

A couple of Benelli 250 (1937) taken for a ride in the Swiss-Italian region.



Fine. Fine. One more list. This time it's a top 10.


Thursday, June 12, 2014

Italy Doing Its Thing

Article from CNN "10 things Italy does better than anywhere else."

Having been three times, I can vouch for these.

Interesting fact presented in the article about sports cars. Ferrari has sold just 7000 cars yet it has rendered them $3 billion in revenues.

Now that's bang for buck.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Legend Of Ferrari

The continuing story of Ferrari and its immense contribution to automobile technology - and folklore.




Monday, June 2, 2014

Quintana Wins Giro d'Italia; Exploring The Tech Side Of Giro

The Giro d'Italia wrapped up yesterday with Nairo Quintana of Colombia winning its 97th edition. Countryman Rigoberto Uran took second spot while Italian young star Fabio Aru finished third overall. Another Italian, Domenico Pozzovino was one of several riders thought to be favorites to win (including the Colombians) rounded up the top five.

Defending champion Ryder Hesjedal of Canada came in ninth capping yet another excellent result at Giro. Especially considering a crash for his Garmin-Sharp team early in the race in Belfast had him in 165th position. Remarkable.

It was a strong showing for French riders as well with Pierre Rolland taking 4th and Nacer Bouhanni winning three stages as well as the points classification.

Other pre-race favorites were Rafal Majka of Poland and Australian stud Cadel Evans each earning the sixth and eighth spots respectively.

While the riders are the stars of cycling, it's always cool to consider the equipment. Notably the bicycles of Giro d'Italia and accessories.

RCUK website looked at the tech side of Giro. Some Italian brands featured were Bianchi, Vittoria tyres and Cento1AIR. Liked the California rim maker Bontrager pic.

Meanwhile, you can get a glimpse of Pinarello (alongside bikes like Belgian manufacturer Ridley - a bike I considered purchasing - and Shimano, SRM, Cannondale, Look,Trek, Speedplay pedals and Specialized) and Prologo saddles at Road CC.

As you can tell, American bikes and parts are well represented. More bikes though not necessarily Italian.

Still more tech sightings over at cyclingtips. Scott had a nice one.

Not featured were Colnago and one of many sponsors Selle Italia.

Last but not least, Campagnolo introduced a prototype group.





Thursday, May 22, 2014

Doing Business In Italy Tips

Planning to do business in Italy?

Here are a couple of tips from Worldbusinessculture.com:

Just remember, Italians don't think like Americans, Canadians, Britons and Australians or any other people who hail from Northern climates.

It's not just about business with them.

Here's my personal perception on the difference between Italians and hyperboreans. If you have an issue with the family, the Mediterranean thinking is you attend to your family first for if your family life is weak, your work life will be weaker. Family matters are paramount. Whereas to "Anglo-Saxon" thinking, the company comes above all else as a sign of "dedication."

The latter is a principal reason why I left to start my own business. I didn't want to feel guilty whenever I had to take of family stuff. To me, my family comes first. A business will always be around. You only have one shot at raising a family properly.

Years ago during my times as a financial advisor my boss (who was of Scottish heritage) presented me with a hypothetical situation. Knowing my wife had severe allergies he asked what I would do if she called with an episode. The question immediately left me uneasy but I still answered "I would go attend to her since it could be life threatening." He wasn't crazy about the answer. This in a steady, mature book of business that could easily absorb my leaving for half a day.

My fate was sealed that day and looked to move on. The clash of values was too much for me to take.




Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Legend, Mercedes And Mille Miglia

Mercedes at Mille Miglia. 

Mercedes-Benz won the Mille Miglia (1927-1957) twice with the last one being in 1955 (with one of the drivers being Briton Sterling Moss) two years before the race was banned. Since 1977 it was renamed Mille Miglia Storia where pre-1957 cars are paraded through its legendary route. 



Saturday, May 10, 2014

The Roots Of Italy's Engineering Heritage



Imagine how much more the Italian republics could have accomplished had the event of the Black Death not happened.


Floating Solar Panels In Northern Italy


Living Under The Tyrrhenian Sea

This story dates back to 2007 but worth a look over.

"Three men and three women have just spent two weeks living in pods 30 feet under the Tyrrhenian Sea.

They set a record for undersea habitation, but it was more than a stunt.

"It's an unusual possibility to perform medical examinations," says Annamaria D'Amore, the project's head doctor.

A team of twenty doctors monitored the divers 24 hours a day urine, heart rates, cognitive and psychological changes, even their breath to assess the effects of prolonged immersion.

But science aside, pretty much everyone here cheerfully admits being inspired by the Jules Verne classic "Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea."

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Lamborghini Huracan Official Video; Interview With Stefano Mazzetti

Video interview with Stefano Mazzetti head of Powertrain and Electronics Department of Lamborghini:



I came across the above clip while searching for the latest news on the Lamborghini Huracan:



Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Beretta Factory: 500 Years Of History



Aside from the actual manufacturing of guns, it always remains interesting to me how Italy has managed to maintain some of its companies in the hands of the same family for generations. A remarkable reality given today's global economy. Moreover, it has held out outsourcing - where possible - longer than its brethren in the G7.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Top 100 Italian Brands

Not surprisingly, Ferrari tops the list followed by Prada and Armani, Gucci, Martini, Bulgari, Dolce & Gabbana, Barilla, Chicco and Gruppo Generali round out the top 10. Of these, five are from the fashion industry.

Other familiar names to North Americans on the list include Benetton, Lamborghini, Ducati, Aprilia, Diesel, Pirelli, Versace, Nutella, San Pellegrino, Lavazza, Fiat, Ferrero, Alfa-Romeo, Moschino, Valentino, Ariston, Fila, Illy, Lancia, Maserati, Santal, San Benedetto, Jacuzzi, Ferragamo, De Longhi, Cinzano, Peroni, Fendi, Campari, Lotto, Agip, Di Saronno, Diadora, Birra Moretti, Luxardo, Tic-Tac, Nordica, Cerruti, Kappa, Juventus, Caffarel, Beretta, Inter Milan, Perugina.

See the full list here.

A couple of interesting notes. Aprilia ranks ahead of Ducati while Moto Guzzi or Vespa (Piaggio) make the list. De Cecco pasta is not on the list. Among the soccer clubs ranked AC Milan is absent while Juventus, AS Roma and Internazionale Milano are represented.

Nonetheless, quite the number of global brands spread across several industries.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Italian Kitchen Ideas

From Cucine Aster.

"The kitchen theme color should be in the shades of orange, cream and gold which are primarily soothing to the eyes and provide an extremely comfortable environment..."

"...Tuscan Style Kitchens- This style among the Italian styles is gradually gaining popularity with the various households. One of the major reasons behind it might be the fact that it uses all the earthy colors which are both, attractive and relaxing. The stones used are completely natural. They are the likes of granite, slate, stone and terracotta.
 

Lighting- The lights are generally in the golden hues, using wrought iron shades. Modern metallic casings are avoided.

Earthy bowls and wooden paintings add to the natural feel of the ambience. The d├ęcor is also mainly consisting of thing like faux paintings, wall texturing etc. which gives the whole plastered look reminiscent of yester years. Subtle tones of muted colors or bright flairs are used. Frills are generally avoided."

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Quote Of The Day

"Italy must lead the world in non-patented inventions:"

Californian I was talking to on a train ride from Florence to Siena in 1994.




History Of The Mezzaluna Knife

The iconic knife in Italian cuisine sometimes used to cut pizza, was first developed in Italy.

The familiar and popular 'pizza wheel' cutter, for its part, was invented in the United States.

Hard to imagine a kitchen in North America without one of these two items.

Steel Production By Country

 Italy is ranked 10th in total steel production in the world (second in Europe behind Germany).

As a point of interest, China, Japan and the United States take the top three spots with China producing by far the largest amount. France, Canada and the United Kingdom rank 14th, 16th and 17th respectively.

More details here at Worldsteel.org.



Saturday, April 5, 2014

Robot Density By Country

According to the International Federation of Robotics, Italy ranks 4th (behind South Korea, Japan and Germany) in the world in terms of robot density.

More details at IFR.

Canada is 14th and the United States 7th.


Friday, April 4, 2014

AS Roma's New Stadium Will Combine History With Technology

Australian architectural firm Woods Bagot has taken on the enviable task of building AS Roma's new stadium in one of the world's great historical cities.  The stadium will be the first carbon neutral stadium in Europe. Along with the natural grass on the pitch, it will hold 52 500 spectators with the option to expand to 60 000.

From Sourceable found in link:

"According to Woods Bagot, the stadium will combine past and present aesthetics to reflect the rich history of Italy while also implementing technology, modern materials and the innovative and clean aesthetic associated with Italian design.

“The design draws visual cues from the world’s most historic spectator venue, the Roman Colosseum,” said Woods Bagot sport design leader, Dan Meis. “For an architect who has spent much of his career designing stadiums, and most of his vacations in Italy, the Stadio della Roma truly is a project of a lifetime.”

“Rome has an unparalleled architectural history. To be able to build anything there is a gift, to build a new home for AS Roma and the most passionate fans in football is heart stopping....”


"...According to Woods Bagot, Stadio dello Roma will be Europe’s first truly sustainable major sports venue with its carbon neutral footprint, maximum recycling capabilities and highly modern renewable energy and conservation programs.

While the stadium is being built specifically for football,  it will be easily adjustable to house other events with features including retractable stage canopies, rigging and turf protection systems."









Stadio del Roma, Juventus’ stadium was built to be sustainable, with features to reduce energy consumption and waste, as well as stringent water strategies which reuse rainwater and reduce at least 50 per cent of water needed for irrigation of the field.  Concrete from the old stadium was reused for the new structure. - See more at: http://sourceable.net/gladiator-makeover-new-colosseum-inspired-stadium-for-rome/#sthash.3KZvAJ7F.dpuf


Stadio del Roma, Juventus’ stadium was built to be sustainable, with features to reduce energy consumption and waste, as well as stringent water strategies which reuse rainwater and reduce at least 50 per cent of water needed for irrigation of the field.  Concrete from the old stadium was reused for the new structure. - See more at: http://sourceable.net/gladiator-makeover-new-colosseum-inspired-stadium-for-rome/#sthash.3KZvAJ7F.dpuf

Monday, March 24, 2014

Making Artificial Limbs In Italy

Clip from 1949 at British Pathe at the Orthopaedic Institute in Bologna.

Meanwhile the Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna is part of revolutionary breakthroughs - specifically sensory for prosthetic limbs.


Sunday, March 16, 2014

Medical Device Technology For Diabetes

CureCheck is a medical device for diabetics designed by a trio of Italians - Federico Fraternale, Andrea Ghiringhelli, and Marco Grimandi.

"347 million people worldwide have diabetes (2012); they need a specific solution: easy, handy, portable, innovative."

"Cure Check is a handy and easy-to-use glycemia indicator, which contains all the necessary to check and cure the user. Thanks to its reduced dimensions and its design, it is absolutely pocket-sized and far from the shape of a medical device."


More information here.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Realism In Italian Car Design

Nice detailed look at Italian sports cars with a focus on smaller, inexpensive built by Fiat, Alfa Romeo and Lancia.

Some motorcycle pics in there too including an interesting Harley-Davidson with an Alfa engine.

Excerpt:

"..Italian cars are among the most exciting special interest automobiles to own. All Italian cars offer a driving experience that is unlike other vehicles. This is largely due to the Italian method of taxing vehicles in their home country. Italians pay very high taxes on cars. Their tax on cars is based not on the car's value but on its engine displacement. Historically this has forced the Italian auto manufactures to design a superior product. They need to get the same amount of power out of their engines as their British, German, French and other European competitors but they have needed to do it with smaller engines. This is why as far back as the 60s even inexpensive Italian sedans frequently have small four cylinder engines featuring hemispherical combustion chambers, twin cams, five main bearings and so on. Most Italian 1600s put out more power then other countries' 2000cc motors.  As an example, an early 70's 1438cc Fiat Spider will easily outrun a 1900cc German Opel GT of the same era. Open the hood on both cars and you will quickly see why. The Fiat has a twin cam cross flow head with good manifolding. The Opel engine is very primitive by comparison..."

More here.

Pic: Lancia Vulvia.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Siclians Send First Cannoli-Naut Into Space


Interesting and symbolic, if not potentially uplifting, effort by a collection of Sicilian scientists.

"Sicilian amateur scientists have launched a model cannolo, a cream-stuffed pastry roll symbolic of the Italian island, into the stratosphere, capturing bizarre images of the dessert flying far above the earth.

The 'Sicilian Space Program', which cost a rough total of 350 euros, had symbolic importance as well as being a scientific feat, the three natives of the island town of Enna behind it told Reuters.
"Sicily has always been a place of negative connotations, mafia and unemployment. We wanted to lift up Sicily in our own way," said filmmaker Fabio Leone, 34, who recorded the project with Antonella Barbera, 38.

Their heavily indebted island, long plagued by organized crime, was forced to impose a strict spending program by Rome in 2012 and has one of the highest unemployment rates in Italy."


Let me close by saying - Leave the parachute. Take the cannoli. 

Read article here.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Eintracht Frankfurt And Alfa Romeo

Watching the Europa League highlights between Eintracht Frankfurt and Porto this past week, I was reminded that Alfa Romeo sponsors the German side having signed a commitment in the summer of 2013.

Unfortunately for Frankfurt (and Alfa Romeo), they did not progress into the round of 16 thanks to a spirited comeback from Porto.




Below is the Alfa Romeo Canguro prototype from 1964.





Friday, February 28, 2014

Military Vehicles: The Jeeppone


Moto Guzzi V7 At Moto Show Montreal

Handsome Moto Guzzi V7 Cafe Classic.

(Moto Guzzi is owned by Piaggio).

Started casually shopping for a motorcycle to buy in a year. Visited the Moto show today here in Montreal and was attracted to the Italian bikes including the V7.

KTM, Honda, Yamaha, Royal Enfield (cool retro bikes), and of course the legendary Harley-Davidson all had bikes that appealed to me. I looked around for Triumph and Norton but they were not present. Ideally, I'd like to purchase a used Italian motorbike but they're hard to find as people tend to not sell them. Anyway, Aprilia, Vespa and Ducati all represented Italy at the show.

A review on the V7 here.

***

Speaking of Ducati, it is now part of the AUDI group since 2012.

Rebuilding The Bugatti 100P

Admittedly, there are a lot of 'whatcouldabeens' surrounding The Bugatti 100P aircraft. by this point, this story should be familiar to Canadians and their own legendary plane The Arrow.

The 100P was the brainchild of legendary designer and engineer Ettore Bugatti known for his work in automobiles.  

However, it wasn't uncommon for Italian designers - free-spirit, free-lancers - to branch out into other fields. Call it the Da Vinci effect. Still, it wasn't that far fetched an idea since Italy had by that time an interesting book of speedy air crafts on their books. 

Bugatti's plan had a lot of ambition especially considering German aircraft engineering was considered ahead of its time. It was hoped the 100p would reach 500 mph thus surpassing the German Messerschmitt which hit 469 mph in 1939.

But it never got off the ground. And now, a group of European engineers - Reve Bleu - are looking to rebuild the 100P. 

"The Bugatti 100P – an art-deco masterpiece – is arguably the most elegant airplane ever designed. It was also the most technologically-advanced airplane of its time. Designed initially to set a world speed record and to compete in the prestigious Coupe Deutsch air race, the plane also met the criteria for a light-weight fighter and might have been the first technology demonstrator. Had it flown in the summer of 1940, it would be seen today as an historically-significant aircraft; elements of the plane’s most notable features, well established by mid-1937, predate the development of the best Allied fighters of World War II."

Interestingly, they're not the only ones looking to do so. Scottish engineer and  John Lawson (as well as Scotty Wilson) also has a Bugatti Project of his own.

As of yet, the plane has not been launched.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Classic Relics Sometimes Experience A Revival

Making sense of Italian automobile and motorcycle manufacturers is a challenge for many reasons. One of those being many of them were simply founded by individuals - freelance serial entrepreneurs - who had a passion and ability to produce their passions for consumption. They weren't always efficient (they probably broke every rule in a business academic book) but no one doubts the brilliance of what was created.

It makes for a confusing landscape to say the least. And when it comes to Italian brands, it's not uncommon for long lost companies to be revived.

For example, Motobi has been brought back by Michael Leeb Trading of Austria.

A little bit of their history here.

"Motobi was established in Pesaro, Italy in 1949, by Giuseppe Benelli, initially trading under the name Moto 'B' Pesaro. This was shortened to Motobi in the 1950s. After a family disagreement in 1948, Giuseppe Benelli, one of the six brothers and an engineer of some talent, decided to go his own way. He stayed in Pesaro, but moved to separate premises. Giuseppe launched the Moto 'B' marque selling small two-stroke motorcycles and scooters. In 1953, Motobi introduced a 200cc horizontal two-stroke twin called the B200 Spring Lasting. Its innovative pressed steel frame and horizontal cylinder layout were to become the trademark for many future Motobi bikes. The B200 motor was a clean, streamlined, very modern appearing unit, which was soon nicknamed the "egg" for its distinctive shape."

Sunday, February 23, 2014

MomoDesign And Lancia Hook Up

And produce the real handsome Delta.

Price tag roughly $30 000 US.

Not bad at all.

A little about Lancia is in order. Lancia was founded in 1906 in Turin by Vincenzo Lancia.

"Lancia is famous for many automotive innovations. These include the 1913 Theta, which was the first production car in Europe to feature a complete electrical system as standard equipment. The first car with a monocoque-type body - the Lambda, produced from 1922 to 1931 also featured 'Sliding Pillar' independent front suspension that incorporated the spring and hydraulic damper into a single unit (and featured on most production Lancias until the Appia was replaced in 1963). 1948 saw the first 5 speed gearbox to be fitted to a production car (Series 3 Ardea). Lancia premiered the first full-production V6 engine, in the 1950 Aurelia, after earlier industry-leading experiments with V8 and V12 engine configurations. It was also the first company to produce a V4 engine. Also, Lancia pioneered the use of independent suspension in production cars, in an era where live axles were common practice for both the front and rear axles of a car. They also developed rear transaxles which were fitted to the Aurelia and Flaminia ranges."

Lancia also has a long, rich tradition of rally racing having anchored 10 championships between 1974 and 1992.




Lancia Urban Bike



Above is Lancia's urban bike. 

"The Lancia Urban Bike is a concept bicycle created by Italian automaker Lancia in collaboration with MomoDesign. Its design is unique, and the bicycle has been designed to provide optimal riding performance and comfort while being minimal in weight. The bike has been described as rustproof, due to its parts being made from carbon fiber, aluminum and magnesium. Its frame is designed to absorb bumps, which abates the need for a suspension system."

Also, the 8-speed gearbox is by Shimano as well as fitted with titanium reinforcement.

More here.




"The Lancia MomoDesign Urban Bike, a hypertechnological bicycle, is a product of the rewarding, ongoing, partnership between Lancia and MomoDesign. Constructed in a limited, numbered series, the new two-wheeler stands out for its beautifully refined design, high technology, and attention to detail with everything at the service of the utmost comfort. These are the winning features that have always been part of Lancia cars, as can be seen in the MomoDesign Ypsilon Sport, the new twin soul (dynamic look and innate elegance) version which further enhances the range in the eyes of the younger clientele, always on the lookout for a sports vehicle at an accessible price" 

Pininfarina, for its part, offers its own urban folding bicycle. Folding bikes go back to 1890s when they were used in the French army.



Friday, February 21, 2014

Can A Car Be Art? Yes, When The Italians Make Them

The breathtaking Alfa Romeo 8C.



Top Gear, just to add, is enjoyable.

Okay, it has issues but it is a looker!

It has heart and soul.

Which is interesting because post-modern Italian art had been defined by the concept of function over form. But with the Alfa, the opposite was the focus. 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Contemporary Metal Art

From the works of Fabio Pallanti from Maremma.


These contemporary Italian sculptures are the creation of Fabio Pallanti, a talented Italian jewelry designer and Florentine goldsmith who has turned his hand to sculpturing with the metals he knows so well. - See more at: http://www.maremmaguide.com/contemporary-italian-sculptures.html#sthash.KWpChzJL.dpuf
These contemporary Italian sculptures are the creation of Fabio Pallanti, a talented Italian jewelry designer and Florentine goldsmith who has turned his hand to sculpturing with the metals he knows so well.
 
Having spent over 38 years as first an apprentice an then as a goldsmith in Florence, Fabio now lives and works in Maremma, Italy close to the Mediterranean sea that he loves.
From his silver and goldsmith workshop of STILE DI PALLANTI where he designs and makes unique Italian jewelry, he now also creates incredibly tactile sculptures that are completely hand-made in solid sterling silver, copper and brass.
- See more at: http://www.maremmaguide.com/contemporary-italian-sculptures.html#sthash.KWpChzJL.dpuf

Italic Flavor In Sochi

The diving gear used to carry Olympic Torch in Lake Baikal made by DiveSystem:

"Working very close to several Italian and European Military Special Forces, we are used to create very peculiar products. The fact of making directly in the same place (in Italy) all our equipment, allows us to better combine the maximum quality and the maximum flexibility in manufacturing our products. The dry suit we have created for Sochi Olympic Games has not particular technical characteristics. All our products are made to face the extreme conditions that Olympic dry suits have had to face for several years! The main peculiarity of Olympic products we have created (we have also realised two different kind of fins) is the very characteristic Khokhloma printing. We took advantage of the support of several local manufacturers to apply to neoprene the particular printing as well as the Olympic logo. It has been a very hard work but the final effect is spectacular."

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Pisa's Important Role In Education

When I visited Pisa back in 1990, it was explained to me that this 'sleepy' but once important city-state in the Middle-Ages and Renaissance, was a strong university town. 

It's obviously critical to have a strong University system in place in order to ensure a country continues to advance in various disciplines.

Two such highly ranked and reputable schools are The Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa (which has embraced nano-technology studies) along with Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies make up the Pisa University system.

The list of notable alumni (which includes Andrea Bocelli, Enrico Fermi, and Galileo) is impressive.


Thursday, January 30, 2014

Water Technology: MOSE To Save Venice

MOSE is a fascinating engineering project charged with preventing the city of Venice from sinking by protecting it from floods.

From watertechnology.net:

"...Venice is under serious threat due to the rise in sea level and sinking of land at an alarming rate. The MOSE project will protect the Venetian Lagoon from being submerged by the Adriatic Sea and protect the famous city of Venice and the neighbouring areas from flooding. It is expected to be operational by 2014

MOSE, the Italian word for Moses, is an acronym for Modulo Sperimentale Elettromeccanico, which means Experimental Electromechanical Module. The name aptly alludes to the story of Moses parting the Red Sea.

The project will prevent flooding through the installation of 78 mobile gates at three inlets, namely Lido, Malamocco and Chioggia, which will separate the Venetian Lagoon from the Adriatic Sea..."

"A total of 78 mobile gates are being laid at the bottom of the seabed as part of the MOSE project. They are 92ft long, 65ft wide and will weigh 300t. The mobile gates being laid at the bottom of the inlet channel are supported by 125ft long steel and concrete pilings, measuring 500mm in diameter and 20m in length, driven into the lagoon bed.

The floodgates consist of a metal box structure. Compressed air is pumped into the structure when a tide of more than 110m height is expected. The air will rise up the barriers to the surface of the water to block the flow of the tide and prevent water from flowing into the lagoon.

Floodgates are hollowed at the bottom, to allow the blowing of compressed air. They will be filled with water and lowered into the seabed when there is no harm of flooding. The floodgates at each inlet will function independently depending on the force of the tide expected..."

 More at Telegraph.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Lampre: Where Steel, Art And Cycling Meet



Caught a couple of Stages at the Tour Down Under this past week-end while my daughter recovered from a bad cold and fever.

Won by Australia's native son Simon Garrens by a precious second over compatriot Cadel Evans and a mere five over Italian cyclist Diego Ulissi who finished third overall.

A former two-time UCI's Junior World Road Race (a race Italians completely dominate) Ulissi races for the Italian based Lampre-Merida team.

Which led me to look into Lampre.

Lampre specialises in pre-coated steel production.

As is usually the case in Italy, art never strays too far off from industry. From their website in link:

"If we had to think of a concept to be matched to steel, we would hardly think of art. For Lampre, on the other hand, the two worlds are not far away, indeed.

The motto stylish steel has in fact characterized Lampre during the past years, because the aim is to achieve stylish manufactured products by following the latest market trends, working with meticulous attention to details, respecting and achieving the highest standards of quality.
Our contemporary society assigns to aesthetic an almost absolute value, often at the expense of quality. Lampre supports the inseparability of these two aspects, instead, by promoting only materials that enclose the essence of both."

Lampre-Merida is currently ranked 14th in the world.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Ferrari Unveils New F1 Car For 2014


Will this be the design to bring them back to the Constructors pinnacle?

Ferrari is basically the only team in F1 where the car arguably matters more than the drivers. While Alonso and Raikkonen will look to win a title, the Ferrari mystique remains a top priority has it always had throughout its illustrious history.


Friday, January 24, 2014

Alenia Aeronautical's Aviation Design

Alenia (Aermacchi) Aeronautica manufacturers the C-27J Spartan transport aircraft principally used by the Italian, Greek and soon Australian (2015) air forces as well as the USAF for its Joint Cargo aircraft. Its production is nor estricted to airplanes and includes drones and missiles both as Alenia and in collaboration with other manufacturers.

Website here.

Among its successes it includes the unmanned combat air vehicle (fancy way of saying drone) Sky-X and Alenia ITV:

"...The Alenia ITV is a technology demonstrator aircraft developed in Italy in the early 21st century. In the spring of 2003, Alenia Aeronautica of Italy unveiled a non-flying ground-test prototype of a half-scale UCAV demonstrator, known as an "Integration Technology Vehicle (ITV)", with a flight prototype to follow."


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Role Of Venice In The History Of Business

Florence is often cited as the spiritual and practical head of capitalism where Western civilization is concerned. However, it wasn't the only big player in the most successful economic system ever devised.

Before it there was Venice and still before each existed Rome. Once their economic relevance passed Italy came to have its famous Milan-Torino-Genoa economic triangle in the 20th century.  In this way, it should surprise absolutely no one why Italy possesses the business, manufacturing and industrial heritage it possesses.

Business Insider summarizes the long, complicated Venetian business culture pretty well.

Genoa is of particular interest. A fierce rival of Venice during the Middle-Ages, it managed to maintain its economic prowess well into the 20th century.

Interestingly, the contemporary talk of globalization was no different back then. Globalized trade has always been with us and Venice and Genoa were perfect examples of this phenomena. Italian merchants were trading as far off as the Volga river during the early Middle-Ages.

The innovations found in Venice (the birthplace of capitalism) remain with us to this very day from double-entry book keeping, bank deposit processes and joint-stock companies. As a uniquely and strictly business society (Yes, it owes much of it success to generous treaties with Byzantium as the article mentions, but Venice earned those stripes in blood and money by defending Byzantium - spiritual head of the Roman empire whom the Venetians descended from - right until it was toppled by the Turks in 1453. It also took to Crusading as a lucrative endeavor)  it only make sense they would come up with new innovations to match increasingly complex commercial practices.

Between Rome, Florence, Genoa and Venice Italy has provided a lasting massive influence and impact on modern business.

It's interesting to note, and this is the purpose of this blog, that today travelers and tourists come to Italy for its art and architecture but this neglects (to me anyway) its commercial and industrial heritage roots.

After all, grandeur and beauty comes usually after you have the funds to pay for it.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Solar Energy Growing In Italy

May as well keep in with the Green theme.

Rete Rinnovabile (RTR) is a leading solar company in Europe and largest solar energy producer in Italy.


RTR is Italy's largest solar energy producer, and one of Europe's leading companies in this sector. Supported by its shareholder Terra Firma, RTR quickly built the largest solar portfolio in Italy, displaying leadership and management capabilities at the highest levels.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Fashion: Italian Made Goods Remain Popular

Fashion/textile industry proposals to Italian policy makers. Read here:

Intesa Sanpaolo and Sistema Moda Italia: together to help textile and fashion manufacturers grow in international markets
In 2012 exports of textiles & clothing stabilised at 2011 levels
Exports: excellent results, particularly in Russia (+10.9%), Japan (+16.8%), the US (+17.3%) and China (+18.7%)
Internationalisation, growth and innovation: strategic leverages to economic recovery.
 
"...Since domestic demand is expected to remain weak throughout 2013, companies in the fashion industry will need to place even greater emphasis on exports, prioritise the qualityy of their products and seek out new sources of growth in foreign markets, where demand is picking up and Italian-made goods are particularly popular."
 
 For Italian companies, exporting and 'globalizing' is key to their success:

“Italy is making an increasing name for itself as a manufacturer of luxury goods for
consumers worldwide....as a result, it is becoming ever more urgent to safeguard the entire supply chain. Companies upstream are being worst affected: textile exports fell by 3.6% in 2012 and our main textile manufacturing areas are at risk, with export figures well below the pre-crisis levels. However, there are also some fineexamples of textile manufacturers who have improved their results by prioritising qualityand globalisation."

Italy's High-Speed Trains Offer Advanced Technology

From Forbes:

"Right now, Italy is Europe’s cutting-edge country when it comes to high-speed trains. It not only has two versions, but they’re competing in a socialist-capitalist drama. In one corner is Trenitalia’s Frecciarossa, Italy’s state-owned TGV, and in the other, the privately owned Italo, which launched in April. It was created by two of Italy’s most powerful businessmen, Luca Cordero di Montezemolo, CEO of Ferrari, and Diego Dalle Valle, CEO of Tod’s.  In effect, Montezemolo and Dalle Valle said to Trenitalia, “see you and raise you one.”

Bold mine - and no kidding.

There are wrinkles they need to weed out but it's a start. Anytime the free-market is given a chance the consumer stands to gain.

More Green News

While Italy has cracked into the top 10 in terms of green investment behind USA, UK, Germany, Spain and Canada, there are challenges.

From Eurofound:

"Two distinctive features of Italy’s “green agenda” emerge from this CAR. Firstly, as stressed by the social partners concerned, Italian legislation on renewable energy is incomplete. The 2008 Budget Law mentions various measures, but they have not yet been implemented. Also lacking is a systematic concern with economic and, especially, employment potential. Scant references are made to incentives for training or to enterprise start-ups in this sector. The second feature is the influence of the territorial variable on the quantity and the quality of the ‘green’ initiatives undertaken. In fact, some regions are much more active than others."

Still, there are positives from Panorama:

"It is interesting to notice that Green Italy report has counted nearly 40 per cent of Italian companies belonging to the “green” category, and that this sector has planned to employ 216,500 people in 2013, which means a bit more than a third of new jobs that will be offered in Italy this year (563,400), usually with long-terms contracts rather than seasonal ones. 

Less surprising is the fact that these companies have been responsible of more than 60 per cent of research and development hires in Italy, and nearly half of their workers is under 30.
The report states that this trend will surely strengthen in the near future, and it stresses that this evolution will have a strong impact on Italian exports. To confirm this forecast, the report highlights that in 2012, 42 per cent of Italian green companies found it easy to sell their products abroad.
Finally, green companies have also been praised for their innovative touch. GreenItaly report highlighted that 30.4% green groups recently approached the market with entirely new products or services, compared to 16.8% of non-green companies. 

A few years ago, green economy was approached as an answer to the crisis itself. Since then, it has not disappointed any expectation."

According to Innovasjon, the Italian green economy is booming and see opportunities for Norwegian companies to invest in Italy:

"Italy still represents one of best market for the companies operating in the green economy sector. This is what is reported in the survey "Green Economy on capital markets 2012" carried out by Vedogreen and published on the occasion of the presentation of the "Good Energy Award 2013". The study stresses how Italy despite a slowdown during the first quarter of 2012, still offers the best market opportunities, with increasing incomes of seven percent."

 


Greening Italy: Italian Companies Jump On Green Technology

Italy increasing investment in 'green technology' as it sees it as a way out of an economic recession with 20% of companies now investing in it - particularly with regards to the high unemployment rates among the young.

From Gazzetta del Sud:

''Not only is there an Italy which is making it thanks to the green economy, but the green economy can help the country make it'', said Environment Minister Andrea Orlando at the presentation of the fourth annual 'GreenItaly' study in Milan on Monday. 

 Data from the report ''showed that those who invested in the green economy proved more resilient during the crisis and succeeded better in taking advantage of the recovery'', added Orlando. The green economy sector, which is based on sustainable development, social equity, and the reduction of environmental risks, attracted companies which ''invested in innovation, technology and research''. 

Firms investing in the green economy will be making 38% of all projected hires in the industrial and services sectors this year - an estimated 216,500 out of a total of 563,000, the report found. 

Green economy companies moreover will make up 61.2% of all research and development hires in Italy and 42% of all hires of workers under 30 in 2013. Youth unemployment in Italy reached a record of 40.1% last month. Eco-friendly investments have benefited exports with 42% of the 34,000 Italian green manufacturing firms exporting their products abroad in 2012. 

Green firms also tend to be innovators. In the manufacturing sector, 30.4% of green firms produced entirely new products or services compared to 16.8% of non-green enterprises. More than half of Italy's green firms - 52% - are based in the northern Lombardy region which has 60,000 eco-enterprises, 18% of the total, the report found. Italy's capital Rome Is the province with the largest number of companies investing in the green economy with 20,450 firms, about 6.2% of the total. The country's financial capital Milan follows with Turin, in the North-West, and Naples and Bari in the South. About 28.5% of green firms are based in the South, followed by central Italy which has 19.8%. On a regional level, the north-eastern Veneto region has 30,670 green companies - 9.4% of the total - followed by the central Emilia-Romagna and Lazio with 28,000 companies each, 8.6% of the total, then Piedmont, Campania, Tuscany, Puglia, Sicily and Marche. 

According to Ermete Realacci, who chairs the Symbola Foundation and the Lower House environment committee, investing in the green economy also implies investing in innovation and quality. ''Saying that 'when Italy acts, Italy makes it' can sound like a slogan but it's true'', he said."