In the iconic Piazza dei Signori, high fashion from the runways of Florence, Milan and Rome met head on with steel and chrome from the factories of Torino, England and Detroit, merged on the cobblestone of the Centro Storico (Old Town Center), and formed a bond of amazing design from a bygone era — the 20s and 30s of Bella Italia.
This vintage auto and alta moda (high fashion) show was billed as: C’era una volta: Sfilata di Eleganza (Once upon a Time: A Parade of Elegance).
To most, food, and all the joy that it brings to the table, is the single most import ingredient of Italian CULTURE; but, no doubt, close behind la cucina Italiana is design and fashion, and, of course, art and architecture, to best visualize life inside the Bel Paese.
Who among us can really argue with designer clothes and shoes labeled Made in Italy? The Roman Empire may have gone out of fashion centuries ago, but the “little peninsula that could” continues to leave its mark inside and far beyond its borders.
It stands to reason that Vicenza would be bold enough to host a design and fashion show; after all, it is the city that was brought to life by Renaissance master builder Andrea Palladio, the father of harmonious spacial design known as Palladianism.
Fast forward to today, and some of Vicenza’s “favorite sons” in design and fashion include internationally known brands Bottega Veneta, Diesel, Marlboro Classics, Marzotto and Pal Zileri; bicycle components manufacturer Campagnolo; and, Dainese, the benchmark label of protective wear for motorcycling, snow and extreme sports.
Add to that, Vicenza’s stature as the epicenter of the world’s finest goldsmiths and host to the internationally acclaimed VicenzaOro gold exposition three times a year.
Imagine, all that world-famous design, fashion and innovation spewing out from just one tiny little bottle, Vicenza — a provincial city of under 120k inhabitants.
Fronting the porticos of the 16th century Basilica Palladina, about 25 vintage cars from the 1920s and 30s — buffed and polished to the nines — were parked in museum-like fashion for the public to gaze at, admire and dream of the past.
Fighting elbow-to-elbow to get a good look at those sweet rides, I was hampered to get full shots of each car, and had to climb up to the mezzanine of the Basilica to get some bird’s-eye view captures of the static displays.
Suffice it to say, this VIP parking lot included the following: an ’06 20 horsepower (HP) Rolls Royce; ’24 Singer 10 HP; ’27 Packard Torpedo; Bugatti Type 30; a ’32 and ’34 MG; a ’36 Jaguar SS 100 Spider; a ’35 Vauxhall Light Six; and, my favorite, the midnight blue ’39 Fiat 1500 6C Superleggera Touring Sport Coupe, along with the reflections it framed in its sterling finish of the piazza’s masterpiece buildings.
Enjoy the video of a bygone era on four wheels; car designs that clearly left an indelible mark on Italian life and culture.
©The Palladian Traveler
©Tom Palladio Images