Colleferro and its original model building association

The festival of St Barbara is the time when the folks of Colleferro venture out to their local fairs and museums such as the model building exhibition.

Colleferro is better known for its industrial past and its current predominance as a major waste management centre, than for museums. Yet it should not come as a surprise that the men of Colleferro, in their spare time from their industrial pursuits, building fast trains and rockets, took kindly to historical and technological hobbies.

One such hobby that technological craftsmen such as electrical technicians, detail painters and mechanics are drawn to is model building, and Colleferro has a wonderful and surprising collection of models and model builders. The Cultural Association “Club 2000” Modellisti Colleferro is the ‘soul home’ for about 20 such men. It is not a Club that is easily found.

Its current home is the large basement below the Museum of Telecommunications and its homage to Marconi, that will be talked about on another occasion. The building reminded me of a stage prop from the movie Ghostbusters. The front door, down a side parking alley is identified by a derelict telephone booth, possibly refuse from a Dr Who Time Lord edition.

The entrance does not give any concept of the wonders that can be found in both the enormous memorial to Telecommunications and the craft of creating exact models. As you enter the building, if you venture left, you can find the stairway and follow it down into the basement.

The first sight in front of us is an immaculate model of Nelson’s ‘Victory’ and around it on the walls and tables are models of many more famous old war ships and more modern operating models. The name Ennio De Rosa is on the credits for ‘Victory’ and several other ships and boats. Our host calls out ‘Ennio!’ and shortly a light grey-haired man appears.

We meet and greet Ennio De Rosa and he tells us about his life and inevitable connections with Claudia and her family. His first model boat, La Couronne, the famous French naval ship, was built in 1973 and he points out the other craft he has donated to the Club rooms. Now in retirement, Ennio has expanded his interests and he takes us to the other end of the model shop and demonstrates his ‘00’ gauge railroad with all the requisite tunnels, crossovers, stations, yards, level crossings and variety of trains, including one current model Italo high speed.

We also find a very large table maybe 7 metres long that the team of model-builders is working on to expand the complexity of their ‘game’. I say ‘game’ because, as Ennio tells us, the original purpose of the train set was to be a toy for his son, but as in my case, the father was more captivated with interest for this magical model than the son.

We are drawn to a small room with a set of Presepe (Nativity), all modelled on scenes from Rome. Alberto Vita introduces himself and explains the history of each Presepe such as one of the old Trastevere in Rome, and another, his first, based on an aqueduct. Once again the arts and crafts learned from a career in high tech industry are brought to bear in these exact models of 18th century Rome. Alberto has also started building Presepe wall hangings that he hopes to sell, and we would value as part of the Energitismo Discoveries.

A younger man is sitting with a set of mini-screwdrivers repairing a video camera, without the benefit of a manual. Stefano Murro is a compatriot of Alberto Vita and another member of the Club. Each of these men has a broad interest in modelling, and their initiations may have been in aircraft (fixed and operational models), cars, radio-controlled boats, toy soldiers, trains, or old ships, but it seems that the desire to create perfect models attracts each to a variety of transportation and artistic media, and their enthusiasm fills the basement area of the Club with joy.

Bring your son here, or come alone and stay all day.