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The Alfa Romeo ‘Satan’s Breath’

Soffio di Satana, is the name given by Eng. Anderloni (founder of Carrozzeria Touring Superleggera) to a model of Alfa Romeo 6C 2300 Turismo designed and built by him with a very personal, aerodynamic and very elegant style. At that time it was popular to give demonic names to the cars which were particularly beautiful, aggressive and intriguing and which reminded the viewer about the myth of the demon (as they used to say in those days) and the risk and danger of speed.

Photo courtesy of Alberto Novelli

Here, in fact, for Fiat the name Mefistofele, for the Alfa Touring car the nickname of Freccia di Belzebú (Beelzebù’s Arrow) and for the car that we will treat in this article the resounding name ‘Soffio di Satana‘ (Satan’s Breath). In 1953 Michelotti created a beautiful Fiat 8V, aggressive and racy, called Demon Rouge (Red Devil). It was like that in those days, the cult of Satanic names to exalt superhuman strength and speed. So it was Eng. Anderloni who created the refined design of the Alfa Romeo Turismo 6C 2300 car model and gave it the name of Soffio di Satana.

Mistakenly as many people think, it wasn’t Gabriele D’Annunzio who gave the car this title. Moreover, this model was not made specifically for D’Annunzio, but there was already a first liver-red model that had been on display for about two months in the window of Piazza Castello in Milan, in the Alfa Romeo dealership showroom. This piece was bought in those days of exhibition, by the famous singer Gina Cigna; a real star at that time, with an incomparable voice and stage presence. One of the greatest opera singers in the whole world, who, returning in those days from her stages and shows in America, saw the above mentioned car exhibited in that Alfa Romeo showroom in Milan. She instantly fell in love with it, and immediately bought it. The car was delivered to her a few days later, just enough time to complete the sales and registration formalities.

Gina Cigna's Soffio di Satana in 1995

The day after from the day of the purchase of the Soffio di Satana, D’Annunzio arrived in the same Alfa Romeo hall in Piazza Castello. In search of a new representative car to buy, D’Annunzio, as a faithful admirer of Alfa Romeo, immediately wanted it when he saw the Soffio di Satana. He was explained that the present Soffio di Satana had already been sold the day before to another customer and that it was therefore not possible to buy it. D’Annunzio, a little disappointed, said that he wanted an identical one as soon as possible, leaving a reasonable paycheck, within 20 days it was delivered to him at his residence in the Vittoriale degli Italiani. It was the second model of ‘Soffio di Satana’, built and made especially for him. It was in the year 1934.

Photo courtesy of Alberto Novelli

The car was sold in 1946 by the Commissioner of the Vittoriale and from that moment lost track of it. It was believed to have disappeared by all the experts in the field when in reality it was jealously guarded by some mysterious collector and reappeared in 2017 to be auctioned in Florence: it was proposed, in fact, as a ‘strong piece’ by the Pandolfini Auction House of Florence, with an estimated value between 500,000 and 700,000 euros and was purchased by a collector for about 450,000 euros. At that point the magistracy intervened and seized it, calling it an ‘inalienable asset’ of the Vittoriale. The car was used by d’Annunzio in the last years of his life at the Vittoriale to pick up guests at Desenzano station and to make personal trips. And it was in this car that d’Annunzio had his last lover, the young countess Evelina Scapinelli Morasso, arrive from Milan. After the poet’s death the property of the Soffio di Satana was transferred to the ‘Fondazione del Vittoriale degli Italiani’ and in 2019 it returned to its ‘home’.

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