Carlo Guzzi: a dream that came true.
The Guzzi family
At the beginning of the 20th century, a rich family from Milan used to spend their holidays in
Mandello. There were four siblings in the Guzzi family:
Giuseppe, known as Naco, was a civil engineer who designed factory buildings as well as their
insignia: the Moto Guzzi Rowing Club building and the hydroelectric Zerbo River power station.
He worked with Carlo on several projects; among them was the “Norge” of 1928. He drove his
Sport 500 (“Norge”) during various rides: 1923 Mandello-Parigi (2000 km), 1924 Mandello-Tolosa-
Pirenei (2500 km), 1926 Mandello-Vienna–Budapest-Carpazi (3000 km), 1927 Mandello-Slesia
(3000 km), 1928 Mandello-Stoccolma-Lapponia-Oslo-Berlin (6200 km), and 1929 Mandello-
Amburgo (2200 km). In 1942, he wrote the book “The Motorbike and the Biker”, where he
explained the functioning of a bike and offered useful tips.
Carlo’s baby sister, Fanny Guzzi, is remembered for her passion for climbing. There is the “Fanny
way”, which she opened in 1923 on the southern face of the Grigna Mountain.
Maria, the other sister, shared her passion for mountain climbing with her husband and Fanny.
Carlo Guzzi and his Moto Guzzi
"I will design a motorbike with standards
that I believe are better than the existing ones"
This is how Carlo Guzzi remembered the background of his invention. He was literally an eclectic
genius. He created a motorbike that resulted in a unique model of different qualities, combining
stability and technology with functionality and convenience: a durable vehicle for everyone. Carlo
Guzzi was kind, concrete, and reserved. He was an excellent designer and a literate man. He was
always willing to share his brilliant ideas and technical explanations with others. His father was the
physicist-engineer, Palamede. He was born in Milan, but was Mandellese by adoption. Carlo
attended the Industrial High School in Vicenza. He worked at Singer, and at Isotta Fraschini. In
1914, he was enrolled in the Air Force and fought during the First World War. During the war, he
met two pilots:from Genoa, andfrom Brescia (one of the best
bike racers at that time). He shared his ambitious project, to manufacture a motorbike, with both
friends. Together they decided that, at the end of the war, they would start a motorbike factory based
on Guzzi's technical ideas, Parodi's financing, and Ravelli's fame as a racer. After the war, Carlo
began building the frame of his bike prototype. His ideas consisted of the belief that his motorcycle
could be worthy competition for the best existing products worldwide (1918-1919). In the meantime,
Giorgio Parodi tried to convince his father to finance the project. Unfortunately, Ravelli died in an
air crash and the Eagle of the Air Force became the logo of Moto Guzzi. The bike and its symbol -
the eagle - were influenced by the aeronautical education of their inventors. The first Moto Guzzi –
G.P. (Guzzi – Parodi) was shown to Giorgio's father who immediately understood the chances of
success of Carlo Guzzi's idea and gave his financial support. The Moto Guzzi limited company was
officially founded on March 15, 1921. In 1921, 17 motorbikes were produced with the Eagle logo
and the Moto Guzzi trademark on every tank.
Since advertising did not exist at that time, Carlo decided to race in order to make the trademark
known (in September 1921 a Guzzi won the famous ‘Targa Florio’). Between 1921 and 1957, he
won 14 world titles and several prizes for sports (3332 victories in official competitions).
Endurance tests and verification techniques produced results of absolute innovation in the motoring
world of that time.
Bikes for the Army
During the thirties, the factory produced motorbikes for the Army: the Granturismo 17 or GT 17
(used in East Africa for its camouflage colour), and the “Alce”. Thanks to the wit and versatility of
Guzzi's designer, the “Trialce” was created: a unique three-wheeler vehicle that could be
air-dropped, and then reassembled in a few minutes. It was possible to carry a light machine gun on
the handle-bar of the “Alce” and the “Trialce”. During the war Moto Guzzi was considered essential
and was declared “factory of military interest
”. Not only motorbikes in the postwar period.
Moto Guzzi, under the leadership of Carlo and his management team, rapidly grew to 1600 workers
at the end of the fifties at which time there was a huge production for the Army, the Police forces,
and civilian touring and sports motorcycles. Important models for industry and the postwar
reconstruction, such as the three-wheeler “Ercole”, were put on the market. Thanks to Carlo Guzzi
as well as the management and staff of Moto Guzzi, Mandello del Lario benefited in those years
from many social amenities. These included housing and state-of-the-art centres for sports, social
and cultural events (e.g. the Moto Guzzi Rowing Club and the Polisportiva). From racing to production
At Guzzi, racers and test riders enabled continuous testing on motorbikes.
There was a strict relationship among riders and mechanics, and Carlo Guzzi always attended races.
Many riders are buried in Mandello, most died in racing incidents: Mentasti (1899-1925),
Ferdinando Balzarotti (1913-1987), Valentino Gatti, Giuseppe Comini, Guido Corti, Alfredo
Galbiati (1929-1954), and Duilio Agostini (1926-2008). The most famous rider is Omobono Tenni
(1905-1948), winner of the 1937 Tourist Trophy. A statue representing him is preserved in the Guzzi
A monument and a plaque
In the town square of Mandello del Lario, there is a monument in memory of Carlo Guzzi. The
monument was inaugurated on Friday, September 16th during the GMG 2011: a way of celebrating
90 years of Moto Guzzi and 150 years of the Unity of Italy. On the wall of the factory, which was
once Carlo Guzzi’s home, there is a nameplate. The Rallies
Since 1930, Guzzi organized attendance to the "Winter Rose", a motorcycle rally held in January in
Milan. In 1949, there were two events: "Madonna of the Centaurs" in Rome, and "Rally of the
65cc." in Mandello. There were other rallies in the '50s and '60s. The tradition of International
rallies was kept alive in the 70ties and 80ties thanks to the organization of Duilio Agostinit together
with the Motoclub Carlo Guzzi and took place every 2 years with the attendance of people from all
over Europe. The most recent are the GMG days, celebrating 85 and 90 years of Moto Guzzi. On
the 19th of September 2009, an important motorcycle rally called "Moto di protesta" was organized.
Many fans from all over Italy and Europe attended together with the people of Mandello: a way of
saying no to the possible closure of the historic Moto Guzzi factory in Mandello.
V.I.P and the Moto Guzzi
Over the years, many famous people have visited Moto Guzzi: singers, actors, scientists, athletes,
politicians, religious leaders, and soldiers.
Guzzi and the arts
Many painters, sculptors, publicists, journalists, writers, and photographers shared the same passion
for Guzzi and were often owners of a Guzzi motorcycle.Moto Guzzi motorcycles and the three-
wheeled vehicles also appeared in a number of movies. Many books have been published about Moto
Guzzi and Moto Guzzi is mentioned in a great number of stories and journals.
Moto Guzzi, Guzzi, Mandello and the people of Mandello
From the '20s to the early '70s, Moto Guzzi played an important role in the transformation of
Mandello del Lario. The company promoted population and socio-economic growth; it was the
driving force behind new job creation. It created social opportunities for people from various
backgrounds and promoted the overall development of the population. It also encouraged the
promotion of sport at an international level (for example Rowing). In addition, young people were
given the opportunity to learn new techniques and to discover the world at large through improved
job prospects, study, and taking advantage of free time activities offered by the company. The fortune of being a Guzzi employee
Working at Moto Guzzi was a privilege. From the beginning, the company took care of the work
time and free time of its employees. After the war, being an employee of Moto Guzzi meant being
able to buy a bike for yourself and your family at a concessional price, having discounts on spare
parts, and time payment scheme.
The company school
From the early years Moto Guzzi operated an internal school with a well-equipped workshop to
train future employees. A two-year course was run for 20 students aged between 15 and 16.
The professional evening school of design
Moto Guzzi and other companies contributed to this school. The courses, which started before the
Second World War, were in the evening and were well attended. The duration was three years.
The subjects were: Mathematics, Physics, Italian and General Culture, Geometric and Mechanical
Design, Technology and Electrical Engineering.
The company store: feeding and saving
It has been one of the most important initiatives. The company was able to re-stock basic
commodities also during the war. After the war, employees were able to buy goods at reduced prices,
which meant an increase in the spending power of their wage. The store was selling a little of
everything: fresh products, fresh meat, eggs and milk products brought directly from ‘Piani dei
Resinelli’ ( a mountain area above Mandello). At the company store one could find medicines like
penicillin as well as clothing, furniture, toiletries and hygienic products, various haberdashery items
and household appliances. At Christmas in particular, there was the delivery of the Christmas
package: a luxury for many families.
The company canteen
At the beginning it was only a covered space in the recreational area but later a dedicated place was
equipped. Finally a real and proper canteen was created inside the factory. During the war soup was
also prepared and distributed to a large number of families. Initiatives for health and well-being
Inside the factory, there were various services including a consulting area with an emergency room,
a full-time nurse, a part-time doctor, a dentist and an eye specialist. Medicines like penicillin and
streptomycin were distributed. Children who were going to holiday camp were examined and
injections such as polio vaccine administered.
Employees benefited from the “Mutua Aziendale Moto Guzzi” that guaranteed a daily benefit to
To guarantee health and hygiene the change rooms were furnished with 70 showers and 1,502
lockers. The employees bought personal hygiene products at the company store.
At Moto Guzzi, there was a Factory Social Assistance Service with specialized personnel that
assisted the employees and their families with documents and organised transportation using a
company vehicle and a driver when hospitalisation was required. Blood donors had special
company permission. Awards to the employees
Production awards were given to the Managers at the end of the year. There were also performance
awards which were equal for all employees. Prizes for innovation or suggestions which increased
production or reduced costs were distributed as well. The company gave loans to employees to
assist them with their needs, such as buying heating fuel before the winter season. Building projects for the employees
Throughout the years, Moto Guzzi built many homes for the employees, apartments or cottages for
workers, and houses for managers. It offered assistance, loans, or bank guarantees to employees. It
established the “Società per azioni Immobiliare Sei Maggio”. In April 1949, on the hill above the
factory, the company presented the ‘houses for workers’ project which was completed in February
1950. Fire fighters
A group of employees was assigned to the fire brigade service; they were called during emergencies.
On a weekly basis the unit carried out training and operations in the town and mountain areas. Summer camp for employees’ children
In 1934, a Guzzi summer camp was opened in the mountains at ‘Piani dei Resinelli’. Around
1941/1942, employees’ children went to summer camp at the seaside. at the end of the fifties a new
and modern structure was built at Bordighera: a building with many floors surrounded by a large
park of 15,000 mq. All the children were given free uniforms with the MOTO GUZZI inscription
and the symbol of the eagle on the T-shirt and on the hat. Free time
During the 1920s a Recreational Center for Workers provided entertainment and a meeting place for
the employees. Workers and family members had at their disposal a library, a court for playing
bowls, a games room, a billiard hall, a bar. In this place foreign language courses, tours and
excursions, cultural meetings were organized and concerts were held by the company’s Orchestra.
The company covered all the expenses.
Apart from rowing and motorbike racing, in which Moto Guzzi participated with success, the
company supported many sporting activities: Alpinism and Rock Climbing, Athletics, Bowls,
Canoeing, Football, Cycling, Hiking, Mountain Running, Motorcycling, Motocross and Trial,
Swimming, Basketball (male and female), Fishing, Walking, Boxing, Skiing, Lawn Tennis, Table
Tennis, Darts and Shooting, Diving, and Sailing. Every employee participated either as organizer, or
as athlete in one of the many activities organized by the “Gruppo Sportivo Moto Guzzi”, created by
the company. All these activities and victories advertised the Guzzi brand. In addition, the triumph
meant a lot to the young athletes of that time and as such created a sports mentality that continues in
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