Giuseppe Rossi "found" his Moto Guzzi V500 at the beginning of WW II and never let go of it through all sorts of situations, (and two years of being buried -the bike, that is, not Giuseppe) and this is his incredible story.
Giuseppe Rossi, was a WW II dispatch rider in 1940, along with some jealous amici.
It reads like a fable, set amidst the patriotic sentiments and machines. And yet, it's true. Giuseppi Rossi from San Giorgio su Legnano, met his beloved Moto Guzzi in 1940 and for 59 years he was loyal to her. Fifty-nine years of living with a two wheeled love is remarkable. Of particular interest is the five years of WW II. When we heard of his "fatal attraction" story, we wasted no time in finding this young man, born 70 years ago.
He has been a motorcycle mechanic all his life, and during the war years he looked after motorcycles. He was a messenger in the western Italian zone around Collio and recalled well the times Genoa was bombed by the English. He had always by his side the faithful bike with the golden eagle. "The only thing I had to do to maintain the bike during those terrible times was to replace a coil and keep the points adjusted." Enough, considering the time it got him back to post with its tires flattened and filled with grass and leaves.
Giuseppe remembers it all. He recalled one time when (in his orders pouch) he carried explosive gelatin, putting the detonators in his pockets. Though the load weighed only 12 pounds, it still sets heavy on his memory!
Sr. Rossi & Guzzi 59 years later, still in love.
He also recalls a troop movement of 60 miles during the night to avoid the bombing of Cuneo, when he witnessed from 500 yards an English submarine launching three torpedoes at the port of Imperia. One of them hit its target, sinking a small moored ship. It sank along with its cargo - oranges. And thus Giuseppe watched the war, always from the saddle of his "Red Flash".
Later on that fateful day of September 8, when all turned back on their steps, he literally ran into the staff car of his Colonel. "Is this the way you drive all the time?" demanded the officer. Our simple soldier, not having another response, said, "More or less."
That same day he faced German machine gun fire that missed his legs by inches.
One day they sent him and his Guzzi to retrieve the safe from the bombed out camp. This safe contained the unit flag and some documents. He found all of it and loaded it up on the back of the Guzzi, riding with one hand while balancing the unusual load with the other. So, he was able to complete what would be his last military duty.
By that time there was an attitude in Italy of "Tutti a Casa" - "Let's all go Home", and also Giuseppe says: "I was waiting for orders, but there was no one left to give them!" So he decided to return to Legnano. He found himself in the Tenda Hills along the French border. The only real problem with getting home by motorcycle was finding gasoline. Evidently Giuseppe was born under a lucky star, as he was able to find an abandoned bike. He had just enough time to drain the gas into his own bike's tank when a German pointed a machine gun at him and demanded to know whose motorcycle he was riding. Here again, a quick reply from our simple soldier alleviates a desperate situation - "It's mine!" Continuing his journey he passed Boves, the "martyred city" still ignorant of the depressing reprisals which were to come. He emerged among civilians at a farm house and later located a sympathetic local who provided some gas, wanting nothing in return. He finally arrived home on September 13.
Disassembling the faithful Guzzi V500, Giuseppe buried it, protecting the motor by placing it in a wooden box. (this was done to prevent the bike from being confiscated by the occupying Wermacht or the liberating Allies - tr) And there underground, the bike remained for 22 months until Italy's liberation. After April 25 it was disinterred and repainted for the first time. Then it was redeemed from the state for 28,800 lira (about $18 at today's exchange rate).
A Classic Road Race in 1985.
The years passed and in 1987 Rossi participated for the first time in the recreated Milano-Tarranto road race and all subsequent runnings until 1991. The next year he also ran the Giro di Italia but outside of official classes as, at age 72, the organizing body - FIM - refused to issue him a permit! He still coddles his old friend and has even dedicated a poem to it. Now it's time to change the main bearings but that's no problem because, as always, she will take care of him.