Northern Italy is home to more oggetti di lussuria, or objects of lust, than anywhere in the world.
This is especially evident in the valley that cradles the Po, Adda, and Ticino rivers, an area bordered by San Marino to the south, Milan and Torino to the west, and the Alps to the north. There, you’ll find an astounding array of notable Italian nameplates. Armani, Gucci, and Versace. Nordica, Vibram, and Campagnolo. Ferrari, Lamborghini, and Maserati. And, of course, Ducati, MV Agusta, Moto Guzzi, Bimota, Alpinestars, Dainese, Sidi, and Spidi. They all call this place home.
If there’s a region on Earth responsible for more limbic-system secretions—or urgent “I gotta have that!” thoughts—in the human brain, it has yet to be discovered. In the words of Italian composer Giuseppe Verdi, “You may have the universe if I may have Italy.”
The concentration of moto-oriented producers and amazing motorcycle history in or around northern Italy’s Po Valley should come as no surprise. The area has been an industrial powerhouse for decades, one that’s pushed Italy to the eighth best nominal GDP in the world.
Italy’s economic history has had its ups and downs over the past 150 years. Alpine rivers powered early factories in the late 1880s, with engineering and shipbuilding taking hold in the early 1900s. World War I and the subsequent depression weakened Italy’s budding industrial infrastructure, and the relentless bombing during the Allied invasion of 1943 crushed it to rubble.
In 1948, the Marshall Plan earmarked some $1.2 billion for Italy’s recovery—alongside an investment of $13 billion to western Europe overall. That’s more than $100 billion today. The money primed Italy’s industrial rebirth during the late ’50s and ’60s. Cheap labor and the Korean War’s hunger for Italian steel during the 1950s helped fuel Italy’s amazing growth. It was in this fertile environment that Ferrari, Gucci, Ducati, and Alpinestars flourished.