Supplied and fitted £700
Crosses and crowns and serpents eating little men, just what does it all mean?
Well, the badge is really the coat of arms of the city of Milano, where the company
was founded and where its headquarters still are. The emblem is split vertically
into two halves: the cross on the left and the snake on the right. These were the
symbols of the two ruling families of Medieval Milan which were adopted in the
eleventh century. At that time, both families financed armies in the First Crusade.
The local archbishop gave one of the armies a banner of a large serpent, said to be
of Biblical origins, to carry into battle as a symbol of Divine protection. The other
army, not to be outdone, adopted the crusader's red cross on a white field. The First
Crusade was relatively successful and upon returning, a defeated Saracen was placed
in the serpent's mouth as a symbol of victory.
In the fifteenth century, or thereabouts, the two families joined forces (and flags) to form the powerful Visconti Dukes. To signify royal consent of this merger, the Dukes of Austria (who were ruling Italy at the time) approved the placement of a crown on the serpent's head. Even after the power of the Visconti faded, the crowned snake and cross remained as the symbol of the city.
In 1910, the fledgling "Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobili" was searching for an emblem to use on their about-
Nicola Romeo reorganised the company after WW I and by 1920, he had added his own name to the badge while removing the acronym style of spelling ALFA. When they won their first World Championship in 1925 a large laurel wreath was placed around the badge (Mercedes, too, has one of these on their radiator badge for the same reason). In 1932, the French branch of the company had enough pull to have "Paris" replace "Milano" on the badges of all cars heading for that country (if you have one of these you really do have a collectors' item!).
For a short period after WW II the multicoloured badge was replaced by a simple brass casting with the letters and figures in polished metal on a blood red enamel background. It was further simplified when the Italian monarchy was abolished and the country became a republic and the Savoy dynasty bows were exchanged for two wavy lines and by shrinking the laurel wreath. At the same time badge diameter was reduced to 54 mm .
The coloured badge was soon restored, however; first in cloisonné' and later in plastic. The latest changes occurred in 1972 when a second factory was opened in Naples. Not wanting to show favouritism, the "MILANO" was dropped along with the two wavy lines and the hyphen between ALFA and ROMEO. The poor laurel wreath was further reduced to little more than edge filigree.