The art of cycling in Italy

It is common belief that the first bicycle with pedals appeared in Italy around 1867, in the form of a French-made model.

One short year later, a variety of Italian two-wheel vehicles could be seen on the streets, mostly made in the Northern regions of the country – in Turin, Monza, Verona, Padua, Florence, and Novara.

The first bicycle races started in 1869, and in 1885 one of the most famous manufacturers was born in Milan: Bianchi, still operating today under the name of its original founder, Edoardo Bianchi.

The new century started with Italy’s first major victory: in 1900, Gian Ferdinando Tommaselli won the world championship in Paris, competing in tandem with Harrie Meyers, from the Netherlands.

By then, Italy had fallen in love with bicycles. New factories opened, manufacturing techniques improved, and sales soared. Also thanks to advertisement.

Here is a series of promotional illustrations for bicycle makers dating back to the turn of the century (as far back to 1896, to be precise) and the early 1900s. Some were for Fabbrica italiana Velocipedi Edoardo Bianchi, of course, but there are also other legendary brands such as Orio & Marchand (Piacenza), Frera, Prinetti Stucchi and Officine Türkheimer (Milan), Atala (Pada), Umberto Dei (Monza), and Fiat (Turin).

Some of the artists who worked on these images are also legendary figures, like Umberto Boccioni and Plinio Codognato.

Their creativity, paired with manufacturers’ growing skills, gave rise to what we can definitely call the “art of cycling” in Italy.

Poster pubblicitario Biciclette Bianchi, 1896 - advertisement poster

Bianchi, 1896

Poster pubblicitario Biciclette Milano, 1912 (Osvaldo Ballerio) - advertisement poster

Marca Milano, 1912 (Osvaldo Ballerio)

Poster pubblicitario Biciclette Orio&Marchand, 1903 ca (Aleardo Villa) - advertisement posterPoster pubblicitario Biciclette Frera, 1908 (Umberto Boccioni) - advertisement poster

Frera, 1908 (Umberto Boccioni)

Poster pubblicitario Biciclette Frera, 1909 - advertisement poster

Frera, 1909

Poster pubblicitario Cicli Dei, 1910 (Osvaldo Ballerio) - advertisement poster

Cicli Dei, 1910 (Osvaldo Ballerio)

Poster pubblicitario Cicli Dei - advertisement poster

Cicli Dei

Poster pubblicitario Prinetti Stucchi - advertisement poster

Cicli Prinetti Stucchi

Poster pubblicitario Prinetti Stucchi - advertisement poster

Cicli Prinetti Stucchi

Biciclette Stucchi, 1902 (Gian Emilio Malerba)

Cicli Stucchi, 1902 (Gian Emilio Malerba)

Poster pubblicitario Biciclette Stucchi, 1903 (Gian Emilio Malerba) - advertisement poster

Cicli Stucchi, 1903 (Gian Emilio Malerba)

Poster pubblicitario Biciclette Stucchi, 1909 (Gian Emilio Malerba) - advertisement poster

Cicli Stucchi, 1909 (Gian Emilio Malerba)

Biciclette Stucchi, 1910 (Gian Emilio Malerba)

Cicli Stucchi, 1910 (Gian Emilio Malerba)

Poster pubblicitario Otav, Officine Türkheimer per Automobili e Velocipedi, 1909 - advertisement poster

Otav, Officine Türkheimer per Automobili e Velocipedi, 1909

Poster pubblicitario Cicli Fiat, 1910 (Plinio Codognato) - advertisement poster

Cicli Fiat, 1910 (Plinio Codognato)

Poster pubblicitario Cicli Fiat, 1911 - advertisement poster

Cicli Fiat, 1911

Poster pubblicitario Biciclette Atala, 1922 (Plinio Codognato) - advertisement poster

Atala, 1922 (Plinio Codognato)

Poster pubblicitario Cicli Cellina (Orlando Orlandi) - advertisement poster

Cicli Cellina (Orlando Orlandi)

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