Many artists claim that the most beautiful stories are not invented, but collected. This is the story of a child raised and cradled by cars and who, growing up, came to regard them not just as travel companions, but as true friends.
This is the story of Alessandro Principe, director, photographer and writer, and his closest friend: an Alfa Romeo 1750 Spider Veloce.
If he were to turn his life story into a movie and write the screenplay, Alessandro Principe would know without hesitation what images to include and how to structure the narrative.
The opening scene would show the back seat of a car travelling at night, at the start of a long journey. A child is sitting on the back seat, while a man is behind the wheel. That child is none other than Alessandro.
"I grew up in my father's coupè, he would often travel around Europe for work. I can say that I established my first human relationship with a car. Those seats were like a cradle to me, and the roar of the engine a lullaby."
Now the director has to convey to the audience how the car was both a home and a friend to the protagonist. So in the second scene, we find the same child, only slightly older, playing with his car. First it takes on the role of a spaceship, then it transforms into a Formula 1 racing car, then in a jewel of technology and performance capable of overcoming every obstacle and carrying out amazing adventures. After spending the whole afternoon playing, the boy is tired and decides to rest in the most comfortable and enveloping place in the world: the seats.
"This is the main reason why cars have become so important to me. Being around them motivated me to want to find out everything about them. I read the stories of the models, especially the Italian ones, and I told them to other children with the same enthusiasm as if I was showing them the latest toy, the one that everyone wanted but only I owned."
And then comes a scene of sudden realisation, in which cars—just like best friends—suggest the route that Alessandro’s life should take. That of film-making.
"As a kid I watched lots of films. Obviously my favourites were the ones in which the protagonists drove dream cars in hair-raising pursuits and races. So when the film ended, I got into my father's car and continued the story, putting myself in the actor’s shoes. That’s how I fed my imagination."
And then comes the turning point. The moment when the protagonist realises that things have become serious. "I soon came to understand that cars are not just a means of transport, but an extension of our own personality." Alessandro's car is a Duetto.
There are people who, whenever they fall in love, forget about their friends. And then there are people who can’t wait to introduce their new flame to their companions. So it was for Alessandro, who gives us an evocative new image in his story.
"When I was 15 I came across a classified ad for an Alfa Romeo Spider, which was on sale for the price of a bicycle. I bought it there and then, even though it had been written off in an accident. I kept it in the garden, my girlfriend and I used to spend a lot of time in it. We could just about open and close the doors and turn the engine on and off, but that was enough for us. Our fondest memories are of sitting in those seats."
In the next scene, we see the protagonist as an adult, immersed in the decidedly frenetic life of an artist. One day, like in those seemingly random encounters that are actually perfectly engineered by fate—or a skilled screenwriter—he comes across the model he has always coveted: a 1750 Spider Veloce first series, otherwise known as a "Duetto".
"The Duetto is a car that you spend your whole life dreaming about. I only had to stand in front of her to feel this unique chemistry. People think I'm a collector, but they’re wrong. I’m not collecting her, the relationship I have with my car is one based on mutual exchanges. I don’t drive her and she doesn't carry me, together we go to the cinema or on holiday."
The next scene resembles a road movie, with a picturesque trail stretching into the background, the car travelling, hands gripping the steering wheel.
"For me, the road is an opportunity to reunite with something that is profoundly mine. I want to spend time with my car, not money."
If the lead actor is Alessandro, the female protagonist is his Duetto, bearing the marks left by time.
"Her imperfections are what make her perfect. Just like a woman of the world who displays the lofty superiority of someone who understands life."
The film's ending is not the end. Alessandro has embarked on his own road and continues to follow it. Because having a goal is important, but what counts most of all is to staying on the move.
"I keep travelling and watching films. Sometimes I even make the odd film or two. Because film-making is something rooted deep within me, which speaks from my heart and feeds off my passions. Just like driving."
Keep up to date with all the news, events and insights from the Heritage universe.