Monday, September 26, 2011

SATURDAY 17th SEPTEMBER 2011 (Moto Guzzi's 90th Anniversary)

Can't believe we're here - we made it to Mandello del Lario. Not with the preferred mode of transport but that doesn't matter. We're here.

We woke to the sound of Guzzi's with my first mission being a dash to the loo. However, it was to be a while before I actually got there! On the way I kept seeing things that I've just GOT to photograph and then there was another, and another, and another. And that set the scene for the whole day!

It was special though to see five V7 Classics lined up with the lake and mountains forming a perfect backdrop.

Food tents were set up all over the place and a good breakfast of cereal, juice, bread rolls, ham, cheese, hard boiled eggs, tea and coffee cost 5 Euro a head. It was all undercover with seating for thousands. Very well organised.

We then set off to try and view all 20,000 bikes in the village. An impossible task but we gave it our best shot. According to the British MCN 30,000 bikes were on site - either way there was a LOT.

It took hours just to make our way through the foreshore campground and weave our way through the narrow streets towards the town centre and then on to the Moto Guzzi factory which is only about two blocks away.

The sights and sounds were unbelievable.

The car parking area and street outside the factory were chokka-block full of Guzzi's. Cars were not allowed in the vicinity and rightly so. This is MOTO GUZZI's birthday, no one else's.

The variety of models was huge. From the very earliest bikes to the latest and greatest.

The number of old bikes astounded us. We reckon every Luigi in town got their old Guz out of the shed for the weekend. And they were so proud of their bikes and of the Guzzi name. It was incredible and wonderful to see such loyalty.

We got our entry tickets to the factory. The first thing we encountered was a mock-up production line of the new V7 Racer. An introduction to the factory doesn't get better than that.

The masses were shuffled in a one directional line which started with a tour of the museum. And anyone who's ever been here will agree it's a wonderful history of the marque.

We couldn't help but pass a glancing eye over this military Guzzi outfit. Could this possibly be an idea for future travels...!!!

Each floor of the museum was dedicated to a different era. All fabulous in their own right.

There was also a section devoted to Guzzi's racing history and of course their famous 'experimentale' engines and bikes.

The day was glorious and all the museum windows were wide open. On one side we could look out over the gathering crowd below and on the other look out over the surrounding mountains. It's probably the most picturesque factory/museum in the world.

After the museum we went to the engine assembly area. It appeared many parts were outsourced and assembled on site. The area was immaculate, but you'd expect that for a public weekend. It was exciting to see.

Paul was rather taken with this 90th Anniversary model Californian. I had to coax him with lollies to get off!

Of course we ventured out back to the infamous wind tunnel, tiny in structure but an essential ingredient to Guzzi's design.

Following the wind tunnel we could absorb the grounds of the Guzzi Factory.

We were always on the lookout for a couple of Aussie friends we knew were in attendance, but they weren't aware we were there. We hoped and hoped we could surprise them but with the amount of people about we realised it would be almost impossible.

Up the back there was a wall graphically painted with Guzzi murals and around the corner from that was a signature banner (about half a mile long). As I was watching one fellow sign the banner, the letters 'A-U-S' appeared, followed by a 'T-R-A'. It was then we said "G'day mate, you're a long way from home".
He looked up quite astounded as if hearing the Aussie accent for the first time! He beamed, introduced himself (that's Tony in the red shirt) and we chatted for ages. Turned out we knew many of the same people and as we were talking about a mutual friend, the man himself walked around the corner. FERG is well known amongst Guzzisti (that's him with the white beard - he's an old bloke!). Well, the surprise worked as well as we hoped and there was lots of chatter and laughter.

Rod, another of the fellows was told before he left home to look out for two Aussies (us) on a Zundapp riding around Europe. He couldn't believe he was talking to us as, by rights, the chances of running in to us with a network of 140 million thousand roads made the odds impossible. But there you go, that just goes to show the tightness of the motorcycling community.

After that excitement we checked out the production line and found it to be quite modern with two models on the go - Bellagio and the popular Stelvio. The new Stelvio looks the goods with its copper coloured tank.

Back outside in the streets we could marvel at the sight of the factory with hundreds of bikes in the foreground and the mountains forming a perfect backdrop.

We walked back through the streets, amazed at the thousands of Guzzi's parked and riding on the streets. There was almost no room for cars at all. It was quite amazing and we couldn't stop beaming at the deep burbling sounds roaring up and down in every direction. It was like being in a dream.

Back at the campground, just when we thought we couldn't possibly see anything different we stumbled across this veteran-styled Guzzi. It was a work of art. Not everyone's cup of tea but there was no denying the workmanship in the design.

There was the sublime and the ridiculous and everything in- between as you'd expect.

We wondered about the lakes edge. It really is one of the most beautiful places in the world.

The campground was organised with HUGE beer tents set up and nearby a magnificent stage area with the large Guzzi backdrop. The band was good and LOUD but our tummy's dictated that we MUST go to our favourite pizzeria, ROSALBA. It was as good as it's always been. Nope, I tell a was better.

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