Story and photos by Jonathan Sharp
Museo Nicolis, Dell’Auto – Della Tecnica – Della Meccanica
Luciano Nicolis was born on the 19th of January 1933, the second of six children. At the age of 14, after school had finished for the day, he would cycle to Mantova to find and collect empty cement sacks discarded by the local stone masons. He would then resell them to the local cement company, sometimes carrying 300 empty sacks on the back of his bicycle.
It is no surprise then to learn Signor Nicolis went on to become a very successful industrialist in the field of paper recycling. Lamacart, the company he founded in 1963, is still a leading player in the recycling field today and remains family owned.
From an early age Luciano was fascinated by all things mechanical and technical, and he had a dream to one day open a museum dedicated to his fascinations. Luciano’s dream came true with opening of the Museo Nicolis in the year 2000. Located just a few minutes’ drive from Verona Airport in Villafranca, the Museo is a modern steel and glass structure housing Luciano’s private collection of 200 cars, 500 cameras, 100 motor bikes, 110 bicycles,100 musical instruments, 100 typewriters , 100 Formula 1 steering wheels, and on the roof of the building, three aircraft. Other than the aircraft most mechanical items still work. The cars are regularly maintained and are driven in many classic rallies and events.
Luciano died in 2012 but his passion lives on, His daughter Silvia is the president of the museum and the Nicolis family are very involved in the day-to-day running. During our recent visit, Luciano’s sister even served us a cafe Latta in the museum cafe. When asked about his collection Luciano would reply, “We are not the owners of all this, just the safekeepers for the future…”
Open from Tuesday to Sunday from 10.00 to 18.00
Viale Postumia – Villafranca di Verona (VR) – Italy – T. +39 045 6303289
Below are a few of the items we had a chance to photograph for our readers. As usual, cars are in alphabetical order.