You know how it goes. It’s lunchtime on Thursday and I’m killing time hanging around in some old factory south of Milan whilst waiting for a late afternoon flight home. I should and do know better than to use a derelict building as a playground, especially whilst you’re completely alone in another country, nobody even knew I was there and it would probably take until my decomposing body started to attract a few of the abundant flies before I was found. Even so, I’m 40 feet from the floor, walking around the perimeter beams, looking for a souvenir or two when I notice two men coming towards me through the trees growing out of the terracotta tiled factory floor.
Looking from a window above
I was expecting it to be Italian security but as they get closer I realised they were just another couple of scooterists making a similar pilgrimage to the old Innocenti factory. They’d not seen me high above them, peeking through the surviving window panes separating just one-quarter of this huge building. Or they hadn’t until I shouted down asking if they were English (they were) and we got chatting. They asked if I was in town for the parts fair. I wasn’t but was intrigued when they said it was only four miles away and opened the following day. Even more intrigued when they said people were there already setting up.
Having got back down to ground level with a vintage bottle (empty) and some kind of heavy metal clamp (that airport security would make me remove from my bag for a quick inspection later on) I was soon in the car heading for a new source of fun.
Remember this is Thursday lunchtime and only a small percentage of the stalls are there to set up, even so it was scooter hunters heaven. I got in for a reasonable €3 parking charge (when the fair is open it costs €12.50) and started to quickly walk around the stalls (I only had an hour or so before a drive back north to the airport). Although there were plenty of stalls there already it was only about 10% of what would be there the following day and already it made our UK parts fairs look tiny in comparison. Apparently, this parts fair is small in comparison to the one at Imola.
Everywhere I looked I could see scooters, loads and loads of smallframe Vespas, parts galore, boxes and boxes of accessories, brake levers, embellishers. Collectable memorabilia in abundance, engines, the odd Faro Basso, various Lambrettas from a model D to Series 3. Vespa T5’s, a Vespa engine testing rig, vintage signs, oil tins and a battered pile of authentic looking Nazi helmets.
I was like a kid in a toy shop as I tried to get around the vast area as quickly as possible. Then just when I thought I’d covered most of it I realised there was another complete field through a hedge (60,000 square metres in total outside), as well as a huge 15,000 square metre exhibition hall. The exhibition hall was also filling up nicely with the early arrivals. This is one giant parts fair, with probably 70% of it scooter related, plus the odd interesting bike or two.
VIDEO | Tino Sacchi parts
As my time was almost up I bumped into Tino Sacchi and Tim Boardman and was given a quick guided tour and shown around Tino’s products. Including the latest 275cc version of the Targa Twin and his complete Hydra rear brake kit (the first time it had been shown as a complete kit). I had to cut short my tour though, it was time for me to shoot off to the other side of Milan to the airport. If only my flight could have been a day later. Maybe next time…
If you’re reading this and thinking ‘I need to get out there with a van and a few Lira’ you’ll probably be disappointed. The Italian’s aren’t daft and prices aren’t cheap. They’re easily comparable to what you’d pay in the UK for an imported scooter. On the other hand if you’re looking for something special, something a little bit different or maybe even for a vintage child’s ride on model scooter then you’ll find something at the Novegro Parts Fair.
The parts fair is held at the Novegro Exhibition Park, more or less at the end of the runway for Lainate Airport, although it may be easier to get flights into Malpensa. Car hire off-season is dirt cheap, mine cost me £55 for three days including insurance. Mostra Scambio (parts fair) is held twice a year, in early November and also 15-17th of February next year. You can get full details here.
Mostra Scambio gallery
New products always in development…