1 Man, 1 Car, 22 Months, 38 Countries, 45,000 Miles: Franco Nacci


Taking a car trip like the one described below would make you heroes nowadays. Doing it 70 years ago, alone, without satellite phone, gps, air conditioning, asphalted roads driving a Fiat 1100, seems an almost superhuman feat just for having thought of it.


The author of this driving company around the world was Franco Nacci, Sicilian, director of the bimonthly “Italia Mondo”, who on December 31, 1950 – after careful preparation, we suppose – got behind the wheel of his Fiat 1100 B estate by Monterosa (with the PA18000 plate) pointing the nose of the car towards the east: he will return to Sicily 22 months later.


In reality this undertaking was made to promote the bimonthly magazine of which he was director: we believe that no one has ever made such an effort for the “marketing” of any product ever made. The adventure is described as follows by ReportageSicilia blog:

After slowly crossing all of Italy – we read – we crossed the Swiss border in early March 1951, heading from Domodossola to Geneva, in a desperate night march, under an exceptional snow storm, with a windshield wiper out of order, a thermos without coffee and a radio without music “. Nacci’s story today returns pieces of European history, as it presented itself a few years after the end of the Second World War. “Quickly crossing a Germany in evident recovery and an Austria still crossed by international patrols, we entered Maribor in the Yugoslavia of today President Tito, where we enjoyed the rare possibility of wandering and stopping freely, storing interesting observations and valuable lessons and coming into deep enough contact with the soul of this people and the reflections of those situations ”.


The European race of the Monterosa-Fiat 1100, curiously numbered PA18000, continued from Graz, through Zagreb and Nish, to the Bulgarian border of Dimidrograd, where Nacci was able to notice “a patrol without smiles, which, inexorably, bounced us back despite the regular seen from the indivisible ‘iron curtain’ “. Then, after a complicated tour through Macedonia and Thessaloniki, the tour touched Turkey and the Bosphorus ferry, “with a moving goodbye to Europe and a first, worried look at that fearsome Asia that with its immense distances, burning deserts and religious fanaticism stood threatening and implacable before a small man and a fragile car, alone in a strange world, without the slightest hope of understanding, sympathy or assistance “. From here, the promotional journey continued in the Middle East – Beirut, Damascus and Baghdad “with its impossible climate and unfriendly atmosphere” – to the capital of Iran, Tehran, then shaken by the tensions that anticipated the coup damage to Prime Minister Mohammad Hosaddeq.


Shortly thereafter, the long journey would have known the hardest stretch: the almost 4,000 kilometers of the deserts of Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan, traveled in the middle of August. In the logbook, Nacci remembered “the average temperature of 60 °, where men and life were met only at very large intervals of emptiness, where gasoline was difficult to find, absolutely inedible food and water so dirty that looking at it through a glass, with a little goodwill, you could observe the microbes playing water polo “. In the “salt desert”, a depression between Bam and Zahedan, the journey started in Palermo risked ending prematurely, due to a deep cover-up of the car, resolved “after 16 hours of solitary excavation work”.


The arrival in India – a stop also in New Dehli and the Taj Mahal – was therefore the prologue to boarding the ‘Bintang’, for a 22-day crossing through Indonesia, the Philippines, Japan and Hawaii, up to the “big mouth without teeth of the Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco, where we received the affectionate welcome of that magnificent Italian community which, first of all, kept offering us a complete overhaul and repainting of the car in addition to the first large subscriber group of this magazine “. From here, Nacci and his Monterosa-Fiat 1100 traveled 8,000 kilometers through 80 cities in the United States, comforted by the welcome – and subsidies – of the Sicilian-American communities. The efforts of driver and car therefore ended in New York; here, after a month’s stay and intense ‘public relations’, the founder and director of ‘Italia Mondo’ embarked on the ‘Biancamano’ headed for Genoa, in view of the “final hand brake stroke in Palermo”.


Nobody knows anything more about mr. Nacci, nor on his Fiat Monterosa which today deserved to be exhibited in an automobile museum, but we have many doubts that it still exists. However, this titanic feat remains, although almost unknown, which shows that “Where There’s a Will There’s a Way”, although many, too many, do not believe it.

Thanks to ReportageSicilia blog to have made us aware about this story.


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