Alfa Romeo as a second skin

Between tattoos and classic Alfa cars

The passion for classic cars is truly international, inspiring enthusiasts and collectors all over the world. FCA Heritage has decided to tell their stories. Stefano Boetti, a.k.a. Stizzo, is one of Italy’s most talented tattoo artists and his Best of Times Tattoo parlour in Milan is a mecca for those who appreciate tattooing as an art form. Classic Alfa Romeos are his life outside the tattoo parlour.

When Stizzo's hands aren’t occupied inking art onto people’s bodies, they are tingling with excitement as they grip the steering wheel of classic cars. Classic Alfa Romeos, to be precise.

Stizzo’s passion was passed on to him from a young age by the men in his family, namely his grandfather and his father, and became a means of expression long before he studied the art of tattooing: "At home I breathed Alfa Romeo. As a child I even memorised the sales catalogue off by heart, complete with models, prices and horsepower ratings. 

I clearly remember my grandfather's garage and the irresistible charm of his Alfa Romeo Giulias and an Alfasud. What a sight!

Let's just say that I’m a chip off the old block when it comes to cars, it's never been denied in my house, so much so that even my father stayed loyal to the Biscione brand and specifically to the Alfasud. It was his definitive car of choice, after having previously owned a Fiat 124 Spider and later a 128."

Besides his family members, another male figure played an important role in awakening Stizzo’s Alfa infatuation: his sister's boyfriend. "I somehow ended up driving his Alfa Romeo 75 1.8," he says. "I don’t know exactly what happened. All I know is that the next day I was holding the keys of another Alfa Romeo 75, a 2.0 Twin Spark no less. Mine at last. I’d bought it overnight. A true case of love at first sight!"

From that moment on, there were no more doubts: Alfa Romeo was the answer to his quest for beauty and pleasure on four wheels. The Alfa Romeo 75 was followed by numerous other car purchases, until at a certain point, a unique experience convinced Stizzo that he wanted to become a collector: "Everything changed after I replaced my 75 Turbo America with a carburettor-fed Alfa Romeo Giulietta 2.0. I instantly noticed the difference compared with driving an injection-fed car, as well as the rarity of the model. So, after taking it in on holiday in Sardinia and clocking up 2000 km, I decided to preserve it and use it with care. For everyday journeys I got myself an Alfetta 2.0 L."

Besides historic Alfa Romeos, Stizzo’s days are taken up by his other great interest, which eventually became his job: tattooing. His garage and his Best of Times Tattoo parlour, which opened in 2009 in Milan, are Stefano Boetti’s places of worship. His attention to detail inside these two domains has enabled him to stand out and make the difference.

"The prized collection piece in my garage is an Alfa Romeo 75 2.5," he reveals with pride. "It has been an exciting adventure: a restoration job that I completed in three years, despite the inevitable difficulties that it entailed. In addition to the model’s rarity, my own specimen is a 75 V6 Quadrifoglio Verde with a very low chassis number, number 2, and it was most likely used for testing at the Balocco Experimental Centre and by trade press journalists at the time. It dates back to 26 March 1985."

The Quadrifoglio emblem, Alfa’s legendary hallmark on the bodywork of its cars, is itself an image that has always fascinated Stefano due to its contours and symbolic value. They are the icing on the cake for someone like him, who makes his living drawing lines that tell stories. "The Alfa Romeo symbols, in all their different forms, have always lent themselves perfectly to tattoo art. Even the Autodelta logo has always captured my imagination: a masterpiece."

So, an attraction that can become an inspiration, in some cases subconsciously, and that can be compared to a design style: it’s no far-fetched analogy, coming from one of the best tattoo artists in Italy, who also has a keen appreciation for the curves and shapes of cars: "If I were to compare my artistic style to the design style of a particular car model, it would be the Alfa Romeo Giulietta SS. Or maybe the Giulia SS with a 1.6 engine: it’s powerful, but it retains that captivating line, with soft curves that define an elegant and aggressive profile. Bittersweet, nice yet mean. It’s a genuine work of art."

For Stizzo this is not just hyperbole, because preserving these examples of beauty is a mission that he actively promotes, in the same way that he promotes tattooing through conventions and training sessions. 

He is a prime advocate of two tools that help to convey the values of classic cars: enthusiasts’ gatherings and the work that FCA Heritage does through restorations and certifications of authenticity. "A young Alfa aficionado who comes onto the scene with a Mito or a Giulietta is almost always already in love with the brand, but it can’t be enough," he explains. "Which is where the most ‘seasoned’ enthusiasts and collectors come in: both by creating networks at motor shows and gatherings—special occasions where lots of people get together to share ideas and passion, perhaps even forging long-lasting friendships—and by sponsoring the work done by the Heritage Department, which enables people to understand the history of their cars, certify their originality and preserve their beauty, often by refurbishing them through meticulous restoration work. 

I know about these services and I’m very happy that, finally, Italian automotive heritage has a benchmark and a mainstay on which to rely."

This is the secret of excellence: investing your skills and talent into keeping the quality of invaluable art forms alive, whether they’re cars or tattoos. In both cases, it’s about leaving marks that transcend time.

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