The Lancia family has deep roots in Fobello. Originally from there, the Lancia family emigrated to Turin c. 1900, but continued to spend time in Fobello, maintaining a major family residence. Members of the family still vacation there.

Fobello is now a very small town of several hundred people, located along a river in the Valsesia valley about 1/2 hour north of Varallo. It is not far from Malpensa Airport (NW of Milan) about an hour west, near Lake Orta. For a small town it is quite interesting, featuring raw and forceful nature. Alpine recration can be found, as well as some special foods - the cheese (La Giunta, a local homemade and prize winning Tome), the butter, and even the bread have won prizes nationally and been noted as far away as Los Angeles. Should one visit, the Albergo La Posta is freshly renovated, and run by a sophisticated and lovely english speaking couple (ex-French Riviera) who couldn’t be more charming.

There are several aspects to Fobello for the Lancista. As you arrive, across the river, is the town cemetery. Many generations are buried here, with the Lancia family in presence. Vincenzo’s resting spot can be found here. Up the hill can be found the small but poignant Lancia Museum, run by the Valsesia Lancia group. Consisting of a few rooms, it has some rather special material on display. It has been open only about a year, but is well on its way. They had some material never seen before. I suspect more material will continue to come to this place - which is notable for their thoughtful displays. It is open (I think) by appointment, so best to signal one’s intentions first.

The Lancia family has had Villa Lancia in Fobello for many years. Renovated c. 1900 to its present form, it is a commanding presence atop a very tall hill, and accessed by a remarkably long and winding road. Clearly, a test track for Aprilias, accessing the Villa gives one pause. A car not able to get up there was not fit to be a Lancia. Prove what you make.

The villa is open only on appointment, but typically for club visits. It is a notable family house, sizable, grand, but not overwhelming. History is present - standing in Vincenzo’s and Gianni’s bedrooms certainly makes them more human. To be honest, I felt like I was intruding. A view from Vincenzo’s bedroom is shown below. It has both rugged nature, and a sense of the fantastic. One can imagine a study center up here, high on the hill, thoughtfully so.

There was yet another Lancia family building, higher up in the mountains. It is accessible only by a 2 hour hike, and is long gone, having been demolished after use by the partisans in WWII. Seems that the family liked to hike in the mountains.

The De Virgilio family has kept a home in Fobello as well. Also up on the hill, five minutes drive from town (always up) and then a small stone path, through a small cluster of homes that has been there hundreds of years. The older houses are stone walls, the newer ones with plaster or cement as well. Adjoining the house is their uncle’s workshop, Terenzio Lancia, Vincenzo’s nephew. He had a full metal workshop there, with lathe, press, English wheel, drill, and even a metal forge. We looked for old Lancia prototypes, but found a vintage Moto Guzzi instead. Again, make what you believe in. My 14 year old son spent time with Luigi on the lathe in that shop, steeped in Lancia lore. 

Fobello is a remarkable place - close to tourist activities, but rugged, proud, and clearly on its own. In a time where so much is processed and packaged for us, this is a place that speaks of a purer line of thought, of more direct living with nature, and a rugged enjoyment of some of the most beautiful mountain scenery. A visit is urged. 

You can read more about the museum at:  Museo Lancia


A visit to the family homestead