The song ‘Bella Ciao’ has been known as the anthem of the Italian resistance movement against fascism. To its sound, partisans gathered in the villages and cities. Mostly on bicycles, they made their way into the mountains from where to fight a demon-like supremacy and to stand up to the cynicism of their time.
“O bella, ciao! … O partigiano, portami via ” — “Farewell, my beauty! … Oh partisan, carry me away.”
Not far from the university city of Padova there is a small town where today one can find a private museum that gathers memorabilia from that time. Behind the aged facade of a typical Italian palazzo, you can find all sorts of partisan artefacts, guns, rifles, flags, bicycles and even a small plane. It is the old estate of a great-uncle. As children we loved to play in this magical world of wonders. And especially this wonderfully reduced partisan equipment left a lasting impression on us. It all had to be universally applicable, easy to maintain, flexible and fast.
Everything was reduced to its bare functionality and creatively transformed to fit a multipurpose environment.
Amongst all the things that one can find in this palace – amongst partisan weapons and vintage Bauhaus furniture – there is also the wooden sculpture of a ‘corvo’ – of a raven bird – not unlike the legendary Maltese Falcon, and equally mysterious because of completely unidentifiable origin. This cheerful bird is now our symbol.
The bicycles of the Italian Resistance
Countless novels, nonfiction books and movies tell of the specific importance bicycles had in Italy of the early 20th Century. Unforgettable of course is Vittorio de Sica’s wonderful movie “Ladri di biciclette” – The Bicycle Thieves – from 1948. A small book published in 2008, for the first time collects reports and stories about the role of the bicycle in the Italian Resistenza. One reads of couriers and relay drivers, of fascist seized motor vehicles and of an infrastructure that basically relied on pedal power. National icons like the Giro d’Italia champion Gino Bartali frequently smuggled secret documents in the tubes of his race bike. But most impressive are the narratives of young women and girls who as messengers shot through land on their beautiful biciclette. With heads held high, with their hair in the wind and with a captivating smile they did not only become the shining faces of the resistenza, but also the image and role-model of the modern Italian woman.
In unparalleled modern chic, and moved by a higher mission, they rode their bikes towards freedom. In England, it is said, the ladies also gave a fair impression their bicycles. But nowhere had one ever seen anything as charming and impressive as these Italian girls on their Italian bicycles.
At BELLA CIAO we are committed to this spirit of creativity, elegance and functionality.
At BELLA CIAO we are not retro for ‘retro’s’ sake. At BELLA CIAO we are purposeful for life’s pleasures. This is our definition of elegance and timelessness. This is our definition of truly classic products.
BELLA CIAO. A bicycle like no other.