The historic entrance gates (the new main entrance is around the corner) to the Moto Guzzi factory located in Mandello del Lario on the shores of Lake Como. The company museum is housed across two floors in the 1920s building behind the gates and is a reasonably low-key affair that starts, after a climb up a couple of flights of worn stairs, with the very first Guzzi built, the Guzzi-Parodi or “G.P” of 1919. Not many companies still have the bike they first started with! Carlo Guzzi was an aircraft mechanic during the First World War and good friends with pilots Giorgio Parodi and Giovanni Ravelli. The three resolved to manufacture motorcycles after the war and despite Ravelli’s death, just after hostilities finished, Guzzi and Parodi went on to realise their dream (and they used the air services eagle as the company emblem as a tribute to Ravelli) with the backing of Parodi’s industrialist father. Interestingly it was he who owned the company with Carlo being paid a royalty on each bike produced.
The bikes are simply displayed and form a pretty comprehensive overview of the factory’s output over the decades, although there are some gaps as a result of the selling off some the collection during the De Tomaso years.
The museum is usually open only for an hour, 3-4pm, on weekdays so it pays to be there on time!
By Phil Aynsley