Alfa Romeo: The Demise of A Legend by Catharine Amato

Remember one of the last scenes in “The Graduate” when Benjamin (Dustin Hoffman) drives desperately to Santa Barbara to interrupt his loved one’s wedding to another man? * Click here *

The iconic Alfa Romeo Spider was his means of transport, and this year the company, or what’s left of it, will be one hundred years old!


1.Main image

I live in the town of Arese, just outside Milan, and in the early 60s, Alfa opened its largest factory here.

2.only onelorry

Up until the 80s there was a work force of about 19,000 . Since then it’s been downhill all the way for poor Alfa, bought up by Fiat, with the gradual fading out of this legendary make of car.

3.stop for queueing

The area of nearly 2.000.000 square metres that was once a thriving complex is now up for grabs and battle now ensues between concerned citizens and political and financial interests.


Who knows what we will find on our doorstep tomorrow! Meanwhile the area is a sad and dilapidated reminder of former glories.

5.rusty gate


28 thoughts on “Alfa Romeo: The Demise of A Legend by Catharine Amato”

  1. wonderful photos ! Sad about the loss of all those jobs and the decay of what I bet was a beautiful factory to work in full of beautiful cars.

  2. the style of your b&w treatment has its own individuality that is very compelling emotionally. the images appear lighter than most b&w’s which is amazingly striking because of the subjects of the photos themselves. the images have a hard edge to them and that edge is expressed in a softer, gentler way. i like them also for the designs they make and how these designs play upon my own imagination.

  3. Brava Catharine! Sei riuscita davvero con pochi, ma bellissimi scatti a renderci partecipi di quel senso di tristezza e di abbandono che sicuramente tu per prima hai provato. Brava come sempre!

  4. Sei formidabile Catharine. Il ‘bianco e nero’ esalta in maniera egregia il senso di sconforto e di desolazione patiti dal tuo animo ed efficacemente espressi dalle tue belle immagini.

  5. Nice opening for your story! Benjamen Braddock racing to the church in a red Alfa Romeo…I love the slowing down and sputtering of Paul Simon’s guitar as Ben runs out of gas. Looks like Alfa Romeo is running out of gas for good. Sad. A very good essay. Thanks!

  6. I have a big weakness for such abandoned, shut down factory areas, telling their stories of long gone glory. Your b&w winter photos match perfectly the nostalgia and feeñing of desolation.

    And I love that Dustin-Alfa love race!

  7. thanks so much everyone for your comments. Grazie a tutti per i commenti.
    grazie, Sandro per l’informazione sulla scultura nella foto.
    Mario, you’re right! They are still making Alfas but not at Arese. In the south of Italy, but not for long I think, and now in Brazil and Poland.The new owners, Fiat, have tried to move the museum you mention to Torino from Arese (where it’s situated, not Milan) but so far the protests have blocked that.
    So the legend is over for Arese and the cars soon won’t be italian.

  8. That´s rather odd I just did an industrial spot for Alfa Romeo the other week. We used their classic cars from the museum in Milan….Hmmmm.

    Sad to hear that is the case another legend dies.

  9. Mi piace molto l’atmosfera di queste immagini: desolante e desolata!
    In particolare mi piaciono molto la foto 2 e la 3.

  10. Ciao Catharine, volevo darti qualche informazione in più sulla foto numero 4 (quella della portineria Est):
    Dietro all’ingresso e di fronte al fabbricato si nota una struttura simile alla forma di un uomo.
    In effetti è una specie di scultura fatta alla fine degli anni ’70 dagli operai di quel fabbricato utilizzando i paraurti delle auto.
    Visto da vicino e da varie angolazioni, si può notare che l’oggetto è molto carico di significato sulle condizioni di lavoro di allora.
    La bontà dell’opera è stata riconosciuta dalla direzione Alfa Romeo che ne ha mantenuta l’esistenza.

  11. Wow, I love seeing these images and reading the story. This certainly rings a bell for me. A friend let me use his Alfa Romeo Spider during the summer of 1969. I was living in a barn in Amagansett, L.I. and the little red Spider served me well, especially on the curvy county roads.

  12. A dimostrazione di un principio nel quale ho sempre creduto: che una bella foto vale più di dieci articoli ( if the camera is in the right hands, of course). Grazie ed un grande abbraccio con tanta stima ed affetto.Tonino

  13. I like your calm description of the desolate photos but I have to say that it makes me very angry to see that area abandoned to itself instead of a thriving factory, giving work to numerous families.Claire

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