Because Italy is more than a geographic expression..

Alessi S.P.A. US

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Happy New Year!

And belated Merry Christmas.

While I'm at it Happy Holidays!

Nothing like talking into the wind. No one reads this blog but I'll keep going in 2019.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Spotlight On Textile Companies

Just some random companies in Italy I came across.

Cognetex is another company focused in machinery (spinning wheels, twisting machines) all too common in Italy. Video on Vimeo.

Fadis is another focused on bobbins (spindles).

The Arioli group focuses on fabric printing.


'Innovation is not an option'? They need to invest in an editor! Not sure if companies realize grammar matters.

FK Group:



Mesdan focuses on joining devices.

Where Italy excels on the machine side of yarn manufacturing, its production, while important for its quality, is not as large as China, India and the United States but it is growing. It's an industry where several countries enjoy success.


As an aside, my father was a tailor. He carried English and Italian fabrics because a) of the quality and b) it's what customers demanded. 

Friday, November 30, 2018

A Couple Of Inventions By Italians Of Note

Ever wonder what hydrofoils are?


Here you go:

The hydrofoil was invented by Enrico Forlanini. 

In 1877, he also invented a helicopter powered by a steam engine. 

While we're at it, Italians also had a hand in the development of the typewriter.

Pretty significant stuff. 

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Frecce Tricolore: Where Art And Engineering Meet

It's not surprising that an industrious and  engineering country like Italy also produces talent to manipulate such mechanical creations.

"...When it comes to creating a dazzling spectacle in the sky, the pilots of the Italian Air Force’s Frecce Tricolori (Tricolour Arrows) are hard to beat. Their displays are arguably the most colourful in the world and ooze Italian exuberance.
The Frecce Tricolori is the largest aerobatics display team in the world. The team’s pilots are known for their series of highly synchronized manoeuvres in specially modified Alenia Aermacchi MB-339A jets, the MB-339PAN, which have made the Frecce Tricolori one of the world’s premier aerobatic teams, as well as one of the most popular...."

Friday, October 26, 2018

Italy And Australia Team To Build World's Largest Telescope

"Representatives of leading Italian and Australian science institutions met in Perth yesterday to formally enter into a partnership to take the next steps toward the world's largest telescope, the Square Kilometre Array (SKA).

The Italian National Institute for Astrophysics (INAF) and the Curtin University node of the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR) will work together, combining complementary technologies and skills from both organisations, to advance SKA designs prior to full construction of the giant international telescope in around 2020...."

More at

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Nanotechnology Figures In Fight Against Dementia

"In the human brain, nerve cells - so-called neurons - care for the transmission of electrical signals. They form the functional component responsible for sensations, stimuli and memories. In the presence of dementia, there is an adsorption of proteins outside the neurons, which then leads to the death of the neuronal cells. How to prevent the death of neurons is still the subject of scientific research today.
In a recent transnational research project funded by the EU Joint Program on Neurodegenerative Disease Research (JPND), which is funded in Germany by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), researchers are now trying to address this question.
While project partners in Italy, Great Britain, Belgium and the USA investigate the exact processes in the brain, the MPI-P explores methods to transport drugs. The overcoming of a natural barrier in the body - the so-called blood-brain barrier - represents the main challenge. Drugs to be used in the brain must be able to pass this barrier first before acting in the brain...."
"...The partners involved in the project in Italy, the United Kingdom, Belgium and the USA are examining the exact processes in the brain in parallel with the development of the transport system in Mainz. Here, so-called "exosomes" and "neurotrophic factors" are of major interest."

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

From Ancient To Modernity: Italy Still Play A Role In Cutting Edge Technology

Interesting article in the MIT Technology Review on Italy positioning itself to be a world leader in technology.

Italy is a unique entity among the G7.  It held out, more than any, going full mass production instead remaining a SME economy along dynastic lines (think Beretta).

Part of the reason is Italians don't see the need and have little trust in putting their businesses in the hands of the stock market. At least, relative to their brethren in the G7 who have embraced the idea in order to be relevant and show economic power, raising capital and increasing market cap is good for a country as a whole.

Italians have been more apprehensive and it seems this strategy may be beginning to pay off for them.

The key is SME's are much easier to identify and adapt to constant changes in an economy.

This article further highlights the chauvinism of grouping Italy with the PIIGS is misguided and wrongheaded.

Italy may have its problems, no better or worse than most Western countries, but it has a lot going for it.

I've always marvelled and appreciated how an ancient civilization has managed to keep itself relevant  with modernity like Italy does. Few countries, if any, in the world can match the bridging of an ancient heritage with a technologically advanced.

Excepts from the article:

"When your thoughts turn to Italy, which products, services, and industries immediately come to mind? “You probably think of food, fast cars, fashion, wine, design, tourism—and all of that is good,” says Michele Scannavini, president of the Italian Trade Agency (ITA), which promotes the internationalization of Italian companies. But now Italy’s leaders want the world to recognize their country’s 21st-century strengths in advanced manufacturing, machinery, robotics, and related areas as well..."
"...At first glance, that transition might seem especially daunting given that Italian industry consists primarily of small and midsize enterprises (SMEs), he says. Often family-owned, these SMEs simply can’t match the financial resources of giant global enterprises based in Germany, the United States, and elsewhere.
In reality, though, modest size provides competitive advantage for Italian companies, Scannavini continues: “They are nimble and flexible and very fast to adopt new technologies.” In fact, he notes, what some might consider “the technologies of tomorrow” are already widely used in Italy: “Today, 40 percent of Italian manufacturing companies use 3-D printers for fast prototyping, and 25 percent use robotics in the manufacturing process.”
"...Italy is:
  • Europe’s second-largest manufacturing economy, and home to some of the region’s most environmentally efficient manufacturing systems.
  • Europe’s third-largest exporter of flexible manufacturing technologies, including robotics, with $9.6 billion in Italian exports to the United States alone.
  • Among just five countries worldwide with a manufacturing trade surplus exceeding $100 billion.
Italy is also among the world leaders in industrial machinery. It ranks second worldwide in global competitiveness in that industry and is among the world’s top three producers of machined parts. More than 4,600 companies are producing machinery and related products in Italy today, employing nearly 180,000 people. That’s a significant chunk of the workforce in a country with a population of just under 60 million."
"...In September 2016, the Italian Ministry of Economic Development launched its Industrial National Plan 4.0—“Industry 4.0,” for short—which Scannavini describes as supporting “the digitization of the Italian economy.” The long-term strategic plan is designed to generate billions of dollars for technology research and innovation through tax breaks, venture-capital support for startups, and other public and private sources.
The plan also includes a strong educational component. The Italian government plans to create four or five centers of competence at top Italian universities in Milan, Pisa, and other locations. Collectively, those centers will shoot for some ambitious 10-year targets: training 200,000 students and 3,000 managers, and awarding 1,400 PhDs “on topics related to innovation, high technology, and the industry of the future,” Scannavini says."
"...IBM’s center will bring together data scientists, engineers, researchers, and designers—all specialists in Watson Health, which brings the advanced cognitive-computing capability of IBM’s Watson to the analysis of health-care data. “The center will be responsible for developing new diagnostic systems, new therapeutic solutions, and personalized medicine,” Scannavini says. 
IBM, which pledged to invest up to $150 million in the new center over the next several years, says company leaders envision the center becoming the hub of “a pan-European ecosystem for health-care reform, research, and health-tech startup”—in other words, another source for collaboration. 
IBM calls Italy a natural location for Watson Health’s first European center of excellence due to the nation’s “commitment to health and wellness.” That doesn’t surprise Scannavini, who notes that Italy boasts one of the highest levels of life expectancy (second only to Japan), low infant-mortality rates, and one of the world’s top health-care systems—all according to the World Health Agency (WHO). 
Another example: In June 2016, Lamborghini launched the Advanced Composite Structures Laboratory (ACSL) in Seattle to conduct research on improving the strong, lightweight carbon-fiber-component materials used in the company’s high-end sports cars. While the Pacific Northwest is half a world away from the Italian automaker’s headquarters in Sant’Agata Bolognese, Seattle was a strategic choice for the lab because of Lamborghini’s ongoing collaboration with Boeing, which also uses carbon fiber in its aircraft and aerospace products.
"...One of Scannavini’s top priorities is increasing Italy’s presence in the digital universe. There’s plenty of room for growth in that area. “We’re almost starting from scratch, unfortunately,” he said in a November 2016 interview with ItalyEurope24, a digital business publication..."

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Rimini FC Purchased Through Cryptocurrency

Rimini FC who play professional soccer in Italy's third division Serie C were recently purchased by Quantocoin - a cryptocurrency like Bitcoin.

"...According to Pablo Dana, a partner at Quantocoin, the purchase will be the first of many that his firm wants to make in the industry. He believes cryptocurrency offers a unique opportunity to fight corruption in a sport which has been rocked by a number of high-profile scandals involving cash, such as the accusation that Qatar bought votes as they won the right to host the World Cup in 2022..."

More here at Forbes.

It's worth noting Italian soccer was among the first to have its pro leagues embrace goal-line technology, VAR and now cryptocurrency as a means of transaction.

Hopefully, Napoli, Inter Milan and AS Roma can finally build their modern facilities to continue what seems to be a slow path towards an Italian renaissance. The new stadiums are crucial not only for Serie A's image but to attract more revenues which, in turn, lead to signing big star players.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Winningest Pro Cycling Bike Manufacturers

A little dated as it goes to 2015 but still a decent overview.

It's a list of wins sorted by bike manufacturers.

Italian bike manufacturers of Moser, Wilier, Bianchi, Battaglin, De Rosa, Colnago and Pinarello lead all countries with 599 wins.

France is second with 267 wins led by LOOK.

The USA have the third winningest bike (behind Pinarello and Colnago) with Specialized at 105 (244 total with Cannondale and Trek) wins.

Switzerland chimes in with 154 wins with 60 of those coming by way of Scott.

Canada is represented by Cervelo with 49 wins. It's worth mentioning Canadian company Doral industries now owns the American made Cannondale bike. Argon 18 is another Canadian brand now represented in pro cycling.

It's a highly competitive field so expect these strong companies as well as others like Canyon and Giant to continue to do well and challenge the traditional powers from Italy. 

Thursday, July 26, 2018

ISA Discovers Lake On Mars

The Italian Space Agency has presented evidence that a lake exist beneath a polar ice cap.

Scientists have long suspected of the existence of water on Mars and up until this discovery could only provide strong theories but with little or no proof.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

FIAT CEO Marchionne Passes

Sergio Marchionne, the beloved, respected and legendary CEO who saved FIAT, passed away. 

Born in Italy in 1952 and moved to Canada in 1966, his leadership in the industry was undeniable.

His passing reminded me Lee Iacocca - an American of Italian heritage - and the influence and impact Italians have left on the auto industry. It was Iacocca as CEO of Ford who introduced the world to the iconic Ford Mustang.

Other examples of how Italy inspired the American Hot Rod/Muscle Car revolution and culture is the Pontiac GTO. Acknowledged as the first muscle car, it got its name from the Ferrari 250 GTO and  stands for Gran Turismo Omalgato.

For more Italian influences on American car culture go to

FWIW,  Italy was what inspired Howard Schultz to create Starbucks after he visited the country and admired its coffee culture. 

Monday, July 23, 2018

Italian Bikes At The 2018 Tour de France

Every year I feature and profile Italian bikes at the Tour and like any other year, Italy offers its cycling legacy with their presence.

The four principle bikes are Wilier, Pinarello, Bianchi and Colnago along with Campagnolo as one of the three major group set manufacture. The others being SRAM and Shimano.

The Wilier (Cento10-Pro) is used by French rider Sylvain Chavanel.

Pinarello, for its part, is the most successful bike at the race having won five titles of the last six races.

For more on the bikes and components from around the world competing, go here.

And here's the list of bikes for each team competing.

Robotics Growing In Italy

Italy ranked as the eighth most automated robotics nation in the world.

That marks an improvement from 2015.

South Korea leads all nations. Canada is not in the top 10 while the USA is 7th.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

3-D Technology Coming To Serie A

Italy may not be in the World Cup (still a surreal event), but Italians continue to influence the game as they generally have thought out the history of soccer.

One area where they've distinguished themselves is in officiating having produced some of the best referees in history. It's not surprising then they were among the first to introduce and experiment with VAR in Serie A and B. Now they will be using 3-D technology to better monitor offsides.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Design: It's In The Blood

A wiki entry on Italian design focusing on fashion, automobile, industrial and interior design.

"Italian design refers to all forms of design in Italy, including interior designurban designfashion design and architectural design. Italy is recognized as being a worldwide trendsetter and leader in design: the architect Luigi Caccia Dominioni claims that "Quite simply, we are the best" and that "We have more imagination, more culture, and are better mediators between the past and the future".[1] Italy today still exerts a vast influence on urban designindustrial design and fashion design worldwide and Italy's iconic design has emerged into the common phrase "Made in Italy".

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Campagnolo Introduces 12-Speed Group Set

Campagnolo engineers have come up with a 12-speed option and have done so in typical stylistic and quality it's famous for.

Of the three major group sets out there - SRAM and Shimano are the other two - Campagnolo is the most storied and keeps its innovative edge.

And most beautiful.

Lamborghini Not Going Electric Any Time Soon

If you were wondering if Lamborghini would go electric (why would you?) keep dreaming.

There are no plans for the auto legend to do so.

"...According to Reggiani, an electric Lamborghini supercar needs to achieve a top speed in excess of 186 miles per hour (300 kilometers per hour), and the batteries need to allow for three laps of the Nürburgring Nordschleife. These stipulations are interesting because current technology would seem to allow for such a vehicle. For example, the Rimac Concept_One has 1,224 horsepower (900 kilowatts) and hits a top speed of 221 mph (355 kph). The 90-kilowatt-hour battery provides a claimed 217-mile (350-kilometer) range, but it's not clear how far the pack would last at full speed around the 'Ring."

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Science: A More Natural Robotic Hand

The Hennes robotic hand has a simpler mechanical design compared with other such myoelectric prosthetics, characterized by sensors that react to electrical signals from the brain to the muscles, said researcher Lorenzo De Michieli. He helped develop the hand in a lab backed by the Italian Institute of Technology and the INAIL state workers' compensation prosthetic centre."
Not quite this but it'll do.

Spotlight Bike: Battaglin

Giovanni Battaglin (a Giro and Vuelta winner), like a few former pro cyclists, went on to manufacture his own bikes. Stephen Roche rode his treble back in the 80s on a Battaglin.  I just found this particular one on the Battaglin site to be gorgeous:

Saturday, April 28, 2018

A Korean Creation With Italian Panache

"...Judging by its name alone, you might guess that the "Lafesta" is some obscure, one-off supercar from an Italian workshop somewhere. But no, it’s actually a Hyundai; the small Lafesta sedan – which translates to "festival" in Italian – showed up surprisingly at the Beijing International Motor Show as a vehicle focused on the Chinese market exclusively.

China is evolving quickly and so are Chinese people’s attitudes. They are more self-confident, positive and creative. The Lafesta will help us reflect this shifting trend," said Simon Loasby, Director and Head of Hyundai China Design. "It’s a clear demonstration of how our newly announced design vision, ‘Sensuous Sportiness’ comes to life in Hyundai vehicles."

It's nice to see Italy still inspires and evokes such imagery in the world.  Their car design legacy is indeed to be admired. 

Friday, April 20, 2018

Who Says The Middle Ages Were Dark

A medieval Italian man was found with what appears to be a knife for a hand.

"...The skeleton in question was found in a Longobard necropolis in the north of Italy, dating back to around the 6th to 8th centuries CE. Hundreds of skeletons were buried there, as well as a headless horse and several greyhounds, but this particular skeleton stood out.
He was an older male, aged between 40 and 50, and his right arm had been amputated around the mid-forearm.
The researchers, led by archaeologist Ileana Micarelli of Sapienza University in Rome, determined that the hand had been removed by blunt force trauma, but exactly how or why is impossible to tell..."
"...This Longobard male shows a remarkable survival after a forelimb amputation during pre-antibiotic era. Not only did he adjust very well to his condition, he did so with the use of a culturally-derived device, along with considerable community support," the team wrote in their paper.
"The survival of this Longobard male testifies to community care, family compassion and a high value given to human life."

Pretty amazing. 

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...."