Welcome to Prefuturism! The twentieth century is presented to the world as an extraordinary century. The first planes and the first cars shocked the imagination of many intellectuals who suddenly found themselves able to imagine a different future world full of cars and imbued with power and speed.
Futurism is the epithet of these emotions and since the release of the first poster of “Le Figaro” in Paris, artists from various disciplines have tried to represent the emotions caused by the interaction with airplanes, trains and vehicles of various shapes. No more static subjects but need to show dynamism, movement and power. Bold colours, energetic and without words!
In the early twentieth century the first auto sports competitions were created, where daring drivers were measured trying to beat human boundaries of speed that for millennia, nobody knew how to cross. The history of the Targa Florio is that of the first and one of the most beautiful and emblematic of this era.
I had the good fortune to years ago meet Antonio Marasco and participate in the first edition of the Eco-Targa Florio, a new version based on electric motors. Together with Leone Martellucci and Fabio Massimo Frattale Mascioli we raced up and down the Madonie nature enveloped in a powerful, amazing and breathtaking scenery. We then gathered in Palermo for a memorable dinner in a Sicilian tuna fishery with the chef there preparing a “cassata” with fresh ricotta, the best dessert in the world.
Antonio Marasco is a founding member of the Foundation Targa Florio and the creator of this race. To say that he is in love with the history and traditions of automakers is to reduce the force of his passion. He is not thrilled by engines alone but by all the cultural context where great ideas have been able to be born and to flourish. His is a mission of sports culture in a sport, motorcycling, which is a synthesis of innovation and competition.
Antonio has founded two museums, the Historical Museum of Motoring and the Sicilian Targa Florio in Termini Imerese (www.fondazionetargaflorio.eu) and at Collesano (www.museotargaflorio.it) of which he was co-founder and collected evidence of the “spirit of the times”. In our meeting he overwhelmed me with nothing short of amazing news about the movement of the Futurists and its first seeds planted in Sicily and in some way connected with the Targa Florio.
Pre-Futurists and Prefuturismo in Sicily
“How can the idea of a sporting event be born? Which humus has enabled a number of sports figures and intellectuals to emerge?”, These are the questions that have driven the research by Antonio Marasco in Sicily. And the answers are really surprising.
In the early twentieth century Vincenzo Florio was perhaps the most well-known Sicilian entrepreneur and was a very active intellectual figure, so much so that he was dedicated to the airport of Trapani. His family had been known for generations and was among the richest families in Italy, operating a fleet of ninety-nine ships and an industrial empire that ranged from chemistry to wine, from tourism industry to tuna. They were the protagonists of the European Belle Epoque so that even the German Emperor Wilhelm II stayed with them.
It was natural that other intellectuals gravitated into the orbit of Florio proposing the most daring innovations and new cultural paradigms. Among friends of Vincenzo we find a Genoese journalist, Mario Morasso, who founded auto magazines and wrote memorable articles for L’Ora per Rapiditas of Palermo.
Mario Morasso is the author of the book “The New Weapon” in 1905 dedicated to the car and whose protagonist is Wattman (of the modern man-machine). He was a promoter of the myth of speed and machines and dreamed of a modern and mechanical world. In his book, we can say that he had foreshadowed the rise of robots (although this term was created by Capeck years later in “RUR”) with the figures of “metal men, invulnerable automata, monstrous and docile, progenies of real men and maybe his heirs and followers on our frozen planet”.
He and Vincenzo met in Palermo and exchanged ideas. At that time Vincenzo often went to Paris (he later married a Frenchwoman) where he met Marinetti at cafes along the boulevard. The connection was immediate and cultural similarities between the writings of Morasso (1905) and those of Marinetti (1909) denote influence of the first on the second.
Futurism and technological innovation
This Sicilian “mechanical” fervor was a perfect humus for technological innovations such as telemetry, which is used in every sporting event, but was first introduced in Targa Florio, and for safety of frames.
But the story told with more passion by Antonio Marasco is of “Ciccio from Cefalù”, a man of 80 who was the first to design and build custom shoes for racing drivers. His creations are on display in every automotive museum in the world: that of the Targa Florio (obviously) to that of the Porsche and Mercedes in Stuttgart.
The task of the Foundation Targa Florio is to investigate the history and to collect stories, mementos and artifacts that can increase the quality of tourist appeal. Tourists who come to Sicily and Italy seek the spirit of our creativity and our stimulating cultural curiosity.