Targa Florio: The P&B Made Award Plaque

Targa Florio: una storia centenaria fatta di grandi gare automobilistiche, percorsi tortuosi e paesaggi italiani.
Pubblicato il 19 May 2022

If you’re a car enthusiast, you’ve probably heard of the Targa Florio, the world’s oldest automobile race.

Strongly desired by Vincenzo Florio, it is the most famous Italian car race worldwide.

For over a century, Picchiani & Barlacchi has been handling the castings of the prize-trophy.

Let’s explore in this article the history of the Targa Florio.

The History of Targa Florio

The Targa Florio was conceived in Paris by Vincenzo Florio, an affluent Palermo native known as “u Cavaleruzzu” (the Little Knight). In 1905, he presented his ambitious project to his friend Henry Desgrange, the director of the Parisian newspaper “L’Auto.” The idea was to create a race with a unique route that would bring together enthusiasts and professionals.

Vincenzo, heir to a fabulous wealth amassed through avant-garde trade, initiated an endeavor destined to repeat and perpetuate itself over the years, irrespective of the uncertain balances of business. The bold circuit choice, not far from Palermo and free from level crossings, was the work of his friend Count d’Isnello. It was the so-called “grand circuit,” a 146.901-kilometer route.

The race has always been considered one of the most challenging in the world. The route traversed mountains, featuring many tight turns and changes in altitude. All carefully arranged to allow the audience to witness the race without missing anything. To facilitate this, Vincenzo had a wooden overpass constructed to cross the road without obstructing the racing cars, a restaurant, two large tents serving as first aid stations managed by the Red Cross, and a press room equipped with international telegraph.

During the race, two musical bands took turns playing pieces to entertain the numerous audience during the waiting periods for the passing cars.

foto di repertorio targa florio

The stage for the race has always been the Sicilian roads, particularly the narrow and winding ones through the Madonie mountain range. Only on a few occasions was the race linked to the Giro di Sicilia and circumnavigated the island. In the quadrennial period 1937-1940, it moved to Parco della Favorita in Palermo, never abandoning the land of Trinacria.

The Targa Florio took place for the first time on May 5, 1906, and was won by Alessandro Cagno, driving his Itala, who crossed the finish line of the first edition, winning the solid gold prize: the plaque designed by the French goldsmith René Lalique, already a source of pride for the historic Florentine company.

Throughout its years of history, the Targa Florio has seen some of the world’s most legendary drivers compete for victory. Drivers like Enzo Ferrari, Alfa Romeo, and Porsche have all left their mark on the race. A memorable moment came in 1974 when Nino Vaccarella and Arturo Merzario drove an Alfa Romeo to victory, becoming the first all-Italian team to win the race.

The Prestige of Targa Florio

The Targa Florio immediately entered the realm of legend. Its fame stems from the immense difficulties inherent in the toughness of the track, to the extent that, especially in the early years, simply completing the race meant accomplishing a Herculean feat. Naturally, the manufacturers who successfully entered the field over the years always emphasized the performance of the cars they built, advertising them extensively.

Even in 2016, when the Targa Florio celebrated its 100-year history, Picchiani & Barlacchi was responsible for creating and casting the commemorative medal dedicated to the 100 years of this competition. And to this day, with its invaluable contribution, it continues to mint the personalized medal each year at its facility, a stone’s throw from the historic center of Florence, to celebrate the victory of this event.