Elva Home Page

Elva - the village!

During the latter part of 1998, I had a most delightful letter from Dr Alberto Bersani and about the same time a similar letter from Paulo Fissore - both of who live in Italy.


Paulo had a great interest in the story of the ELVA-BMW GT160, three examples of which were built, the beautiful aluminium bodywork having been formed by Fissore in Savigliano, Italy. However, almost of greater interest was the information sent to me about the wonderful and picturesque village of "Elva" set high in the mountains in an area called Valle Maira.

Alberto has suggested that we should arrange a visit to the area and that would be wonderful. I know that we would all be made most welcome. However, I am not sure how practical that would be and obviously apart from the Courier and just maybe three GT160s, there are not many other cars built by Elva that can take to the open roads, let alone head up the mountains!!

Click for enlargement (34Kb) So, here is the challenge ... we have a lovely invitation to visit a stunningly beautiful area and a particular village with the unique and special name "Elva". I would love to arrange a gathering there but who else would be willing and able to come along?
Could be quite a party!

Apart from the obvious name connection between our cars and the Italian village, Alberto sent me the following information...

"In the latter half of the last century, the inhabitants of Elva found a peculiar way of coping with the poor economy of their mountainous region, and thus raise additional income. The men used to leave the village in October and travel all over Northern Italy and also overseas, to return in June.

The reason? They bought hair from poor women who received some money or gifts such as ribbons, and the hair was brought back to the village and cleaned. The hair was classified according to colour, length and thickness to be sold to the manufacturers of wigs in Paris, London and the United States.

This all came to an end in the 1950s when artificial hair become more economical and effective. One of the many recipients of the hair supplies was the House of Lords in London. Another speciality of the area Valle Maira is the selling of anchovies. It began at a similar time when English vessels brought fish to Piedmont through the ports of Liguria, and sailed back with Piedmont silk."

Sounds delighful - I am not fussed about the anchovies but I most definitely could do with the hair!

Please email me if you want to learn more and hope to see you all in Elva in the mountains of Italy.

March 1999

Click for enlargement (31Kb)

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