A byproduct of being a motoring journalist is that we tend to travel a fair amount to various locations around the world. Manufacturers often have idilic locations in mind when launching their products. It’s a tough job but somebody has got to do it… The recent Fiat Tipo launch in Italy revealed a hidden gem of film history. The 1969 Italian Job, starting three plucky Minis and an epic chase sequence through Italy, has to be amongst my favourite films. In Turin much of the caper took place and that is exactly where I found myself.
Amongst the bustling Italian streets of Turin sits the old Fiat factory. Even industrial architecture in Italy is appealing to the eye and this sandy coloured building was no different. No longer churning out cars, it is now a hotel and shopping centre, but still owned by Fiat. Whilst checking in the desk clerk said “you must visit the roof.” Whilst on the way to my room I pondered his strange comment thinking that maybe there was a nice view of Turin from that hight. I dumped my bags, returned to the desk and was presented with a secret key to the roof. After passing the public floors this key granted access to the highest level. As the door slid aside I became curious as to what I might find. Rounding the corner and exiting via a door featuring blinding sunlight I soon discovered why I was lead here.
Beneath my shoes was a tarmac-like floor that stretched off into the distance. Looking down this long straight I could see what appeared to bed banking. It clicked! I recognised this place! This was the location for the rooftop chase serine in the original Italian Job. This old Fiat test track was once used to trial the cars built in the factory below, but in the 60’s movie hit it became an iconic backdrop. Here the Italian police chased the Minis before the film cut to the famed rooftop jump scene. This hidden bit of history had hardly changed from the film that captured my imagination as a child. To think that many go about their day on the streets below without even knowing that this exists is madness.
It was a real privilege to be given access and now re-watching The Italian Job is top of my to do list.