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Old 03-05-2007, 01:38 PM
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Alfa Romeo

One of the most famous badges in the automotive history.

The history behind the Snake and the Cross:

When Alfa was founded in 1910, the chiefs of the Milan based company, created a logo that combined two well-known symbols in Milan; a red cross, which was a part of the city-logo, and "Biscione" , a snake who were a part of the representative logo of the noble Milanese Visconti family. It was two symbols who both in tradition and symbolism stood far apart from each-other, but united into one. The original weapon-shield was used between 1910 and 1915. It was circular shaped and consisted of two segments: The left side had a red cross on a white background, and on the right side, the Visconti-snake who threatened an enemy.

Two Savoy-dynasty knots was early on used to part the words Alfa and Milano.

The cross is used in memory of the Lombardia-battalion who went on their first crusade in 1295. Front figure of the crusades towards the Holy Land, was Arch-bishop of Milan, Ottone Visconti, Lord of Invorio and Oleggio Castello, ancestor of the Visconti-family, the family who was to rule Milan for almost 200 years from 1277 to 1447.

When the Lombardia battalion returned to Milan 5 years later, the city took use of the cross as a city-symbol in honor of the crusaders courage for the Holy.

The history behind the snake is even more strange. As a symbol it recognizes strength, wisdom and power. It can be dated back to the Germanian tribes who invaded Lombardia and settled down in North Italy in the year 700. They meant that a snake on a blue background was a symbol of luck, and therefore used this symbol on their war-flags. When Matteo Visconti became Count of Milan in 1295, he told his wise-men to adorn a bit on the not-so honorable history of the family in the history-books. He wanted to draw lines to the Germanian invaders of the past and included the snake into his family-symbol. And to strengthen the lines between the Visconties and the Germanians, a myth was created about one of Matteos ancestors , Umberto, the myth told he had ridden on a fierce dragon around the countryside of Milan. And this is how the scene was created. The heraldics at the court crated "Biscione", who had the body of a snake and a dragons head.

The original Alfa-logo was first modified in 1913, when the copper colored letters became white and strengthened with an outline of gold. The Savoy-knots was made more robust, and the snake was simplified.

In 1915 Nicola Romeo took over the company, and three years later, after WW1, the word Alfa (Anonima Lombarda Fabbricia Automobilia) was supplied with the word Romeo. It stayed that way until 1925, when Alfa won it's first World Championship, a silver colored laurel-coronary was added around the logo. And in addition the colors around the lettering and the Savoy-knots turned from gold to silver. As a side note: In 1932 all cars who was exported to France, was badged Alfa Romeo Paris.

In 1946 Italy became a republic and the two Savoy dynasty knots, which was a symbol for the Royal Family who had ruled Italy, was now changed for two wave shaped lines.

It wasn't until 1971 the last change to the logo was done. The whole was modernized, the snake was even more stylized and the - between Alfa and Romeo was removed. At the same time, most of the exclusive Lombardia-connections was gone, so it was time to exclude the word Milano.



Link about the Visconti family-tree: House of Visconti

This is a write-up and is freely translated from Norwegian by me. The original story was found in a Norwegian free-magazine called Motor & Fritid, but held some historic mistakes who is now set straight and cross-checked in history, with different sources.

Last edited by LotusLocost; 03-05-2007 at 02:06 PM.
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