The museum of the larian boat talks about the great commitments of visionary industrialist who changed the modern word

9 February 2024

The museum of the larian boat talks about the great commitments of visionary industrialist who changed the modern word

The Larian boat museum is based in Pianello Lario on Lake Como . For its founder GianAlberto Zanoletti, the backyard is no longer sufficient to house all the boats, so he decides in 1976 to found the Associazione Raccolta Barca Lariana, dedicated to the preservation of vintage freshwater boats. Work began to move the boats into an old spinning mill, which would later become the Museo Barca Lariana.
In 1982, the Barca Lariana Museum opened, a unique heritage in the world. A collection of inestimable value for the nautical sector and for the history of Italy, housed in 2,500 square metres of rooms open to the public, warehouses and 2,000 square metres of equipped parkland, which aims to tell the story of the nautical sector in an area, Lombardy and Lake Como in particular, rich in history and culture inextricably linked to the nautical sector.

Since then, GianAlberto has devoted himself wholeheartedly to his passion, vintage boats, rightly considered real jewels, memories of a past to be saved from oblivion.
In 1987, with the intention of increasingly promoting and spreading the culture of traditional boating, he founded the ASDEC, Associazione Scafi D’Epoca E Classici, of which he was president and from 2015, until his untimely death, honorary president.
The collection evokes, with extraordinary poetry, expressive force and character, all the charm of his world; characterised by objects, places and people that represented the growth of Italy in the 20th century. Walking around the museum, one cannot help but be fascinated by its atmosphere, where time seems to stand still.

When boats tell the stories of the "greats"

Motorboat ANNA and the Erba family.

From the birth of Italian pharmaceuticals to the neo-realism of Luchino Visconti . Carlo Erba was born in Vigevano on 17 November 1811. In 1837 he took over the management of the Antica Farmacia di Brera, in Milan, and started the first experiments on the therapeutic use of cannabis. In 1853 he opened Italy’s first pharmaceutical laboratory. Here he engaged in research and production of medicines that until then had only been imported from France and Germany. This activity met with considerable success: his products were increasingly in demand, particularly magnesia and tamarind extract. His success prompted him to open a new factory in Milan in 1867, which within a few years was to become the largest chemical- pharmaceutical industry in the country. A scientist, entrepreneur and prominent figure in mid-19th century Milan, Carlo Erba was an active participant in Milan’s social and economic life, making the fruits of his achievements available to the community. He donated a large sum to the Politecnico for the development of a school of electrical engineering, supported numerous philanthropic activities, adventurism and medical research. He also understood the importance of energy development, promoting and participating in the foundation of the Edison company. Carlo died on 6 April 1888, appointing his younger brother Luigi Erba, a musician, as his universal heir, who succeeded him at the helm of the company. Luigi deeply loved Lake Como and bought the motorboat Anna from the Taroni family. It was the largest petrol-powered launch built on the lake, luxuriously furnished with burgundy silk capitonné seats and an attached toilet. Anna is today on display at the Barca Lariana Museum.

Luigi’s daughter married Duke Giuseppe Visconti di Modrone and from this union was born Luchino Visconti, one of the most important directors, scriptwriters and men of culture of the last century. One of the fathers of Italian Neorealism, he directed such masterpieces as Senso, Rocco and his Brothers, Bellissima (with an extraordinary Anna Magnani), Death in Venice and The Fall of the Gods. Numerous artists were also hosted at the Villa Erba residence on Lake Como, where the young Luchino Visconti spent his summer holidays, and who knows how many had the pleasure and fortune of sailing the Lake aboard Anna.

Cisko-Yu and Giulio Cesare Carcano
The man who took MotoGuzzi to the top of the world and revolutionised sailing and rowing.

Giulio Cesare Carcano, one of the innovators who made Italian motorcycling great and a pioneer of sailing design. He was born in Milan in 1910. He graduated from the Polytechnic and joined the technical staff of Moto Guzzi at a very young age. His design philosophy has four imperatives: simplicity, lightness, reduction of passive resistance. In 1950 he pushes the management for Guzzi to equip itself with a wind tunnel, it will be the first motorbike manufacturer in the world. Confirming his versatility and ingenuity, he used the wind tunnel to design the Air Force two-seater bobsleigh that won the Cortina Olympics. Around 1957 he designed the 500 cc 8-cylinder Moto Guzzi, an absolutely avant-garde motorbike, still a unique technical example today. It delivered the impressive power of 75 hp. During his career he signed historic motorbikes such as the Falcone and the V7, taking Guzzi to the top of world competition.

In 1966, with the death of Carlo Guzzi, Carcano opened a studio to design racing boats and signed wonderful boats such as Villanella, winner of the Two Ton Cup, Vihuela, Venessa, Viola, Vinca and Volpina. His boats differed from the others in the characteristic V shape of the bow, a sort of obsession of his, confirmed by the names of his boats and the famous Moto Guzzi V-shaped engines. Carcano was also an excellent yachtsman and bought the Cisko-Yu boat built by Emilio Cramer in 1896, built by the TAGG&SON shipyards in Hampton Court and designed by LINTON HOPE, one of the best naval designers of the time, legend has it that the fear of competing with the Cisko-Yu was such that no one showed up at the regattas.

As a helmsman he won a third place at the World 5.5 S.I. in Helsinki in 1961 with Volpina and Cisko-Yu. Carcano participated with Beppe Croce in the first contacts for an Italian challenge to the America’s Cup through the meeting with US President John F. Kennedy, filmed here during a regatta on the yacht ‘Manitou’. He was ahead of Carcano, and he knew it. He designed everything maniacally, optimised weights, studied shapes and appendages, experimented with materials, devised rudders hanging from the stern, and was a forerunner of light displacement. He designed boats with astounding performance, especially in carrying gaits. It is not difficult, today, to glimpse some of his lines in the Open Oceans of contemporary designers.

Kennedy said: I really don’t know why we are all so busy with the sea,…it is an interesting biological fact that we all have in our veins the exact same percentage of salt in our blood that exists in the ocean, and therefore, we have salt in our blood, in our sweat, in our tears. We’re tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it’s sailing or watching it, we go back to where we came from.”
– Address by President John F. Kennedy to the America’s Cup in Newport, RI, 1962.

Rosetta and the Agnelli family
The birth of Fiat.

The Museo Barca Lariana preserves the sailing boat Rosetta, which belonged to Carlo Nasi and Caterina Aniceta Agnelli, daughter of Fiat founder Giovanni Agnelli.

The Museo Barca Lariana preserves the sailing boat Rosetta, which belonged to Carlo Nasi and Caterina Aniceta Agnelli, daughter of Fiat founder Giovanni Agnelli. The history of Fiat is closely linked to the history of the Italian economy and the industrial development of a country that has been able to play a leading role on the international economic scene. The idea came from friends Emanuele Cacherano di Bricherasio and Cesare Goria Gatti (former founders of the ACI Automobile Club d’Italia). They had previously financed the Accomandita Ceirano & C. aimed at building the Welleyes car. Given its success, they proposed to a group of friends to take over the workforce and skills of Ceirano & C. and transfer them to an industrial scale. One of the last to join was Giovanni Agnelli, a wealthy landowner from Villar Perosa. The group of notables used to meet at Madame Burello’s historic café and outline the guidelines of the future enterprise. On 11 July 1899, the deed of incorporation of the company was signed, a share capital of 800,000 lire (about 3.6 million euro today) was paid in, and Ludovico Scarfiotti was appointed president. At its first meeting, the board of directors of the newly formed FIA (Fabbrica Italiana di Automobili) resolved to purchase the Accomandita Ceirano & C., liquidating Ceirano with the sum of 20,000 lire, as well as hiring him as sales agent.

The first car built was the ’31⁄2 HP’ model, a copy of the Welleyes and produced in eight examples during 1899.

Also in that year, the company changed its name to FIAT, advocating the adoption of this acronym also because of its auspicious Latin meaning regarding the future of the company (third person singular in the verb fio = it is done, achieved). The first eight cars were made in the acquired Officina Ceirano, then production moved to the new factory in Corso Dante Alighieri, completed in record time in early 1900. After an initial period marked by various changes in the composition of the share capital, ownership was taken over almost entirely by Giovanni Agnelli, who remained at the helm until the end of the Second World War. In 1903 Fiat began exporting to the USA. Models with more powerful engines such as the 16-20 hp were born. The Tipo Zero of 1912 opened the door to new production techniques inspired by Henry Ford. It cost 8,000 lira. In 1916, Fiat began construction of the famous Lingotto production plant, which went into operation in 1923. Among the most famous Italian military truck models is the Fiat 15. It entered service in 1911 and was first used in the Italo-Turkish war, then in Libya in the Fiat 15 bis and then ter versions, and finally used in the First World War together with the Fiat 18. In the Fiat 15 ter there was a 4398 cm3 Fiat 53A petrol engine with 40 horsepower at 1800 rpm. A very rare remaining example of this engine is preserved in the Barca Lariana Museum.

After the war came years of experimentation and records. The Mefistofele, the name given by the infernal noise generated by its engine, exceeded 230 km/h. After the war, Fiat was the protagonist of a miracle: it managed to produce and sell around 400,000 cars a year.

In 1955 the 600 was launched, two years later the 500, successes that would lead Fiat to open factories all over the world. Managing director Valletta managed, on behalf of the Agnellis, one of the few Italian companies that was not completely on its knees: he managed to get it back on its feet by handing it over to the ‘first in the dynastic line’, the lawyer Giovanni Agnelli we all know. Giovanni Agnelli was famous for his aphorisms, among them being a lover of sailing he used to say:

Gianni Agnelli on Agnetta.

The pessimist complains about the wind, the optimist waits for it to change, the realist adjusts the sails, or casts anchor.

In the next article, "The museum of the larian boat talks about the great commitments of visionary industrialist who changed the modern word", we will tell you about the boats that characterised Giudo Monzino, Silvio Pellico, Benito Mussolini, and the origin and history of Riva motorboats.

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