My first visit to Rossi’s bike shop in Siena, Italy about 10 years ago had me hooked, I knew then that I would be returning. “Venga, Venga!”, the friendly old man Martino, summoning me into the depths of the old shop to show me among other things a photo of him on the wall, 1939 il Campionissmo. The family owned business is now operated by Martino’s son Luca and his mechanic, Maurizio with the more than occasional visit by Martino’s widow pushing her walker throughout the store, smiling and helping out customers or simply engaging in pleasant conversation. Rossi’s bike shop is unlike any other bike shop I’ve ever visited anywhere.
A couple of years ago my brother Brian, a bike mechanic himself brought in a wheel that needed to be trued, Maurizio took a look and offered Brian to work on his own wheel using the shop’s stand and tools. Problem solved, when we asked how much, “quanto costa?” Luca replied in his broken english; “Nothing, you fix wheel, I did nothing.” Where else can you rent a bike for 10 euro a day or 5 euro for 1/2 a day, most places daily rental rates are 25-40 euros. One time I rented a fairly nice carbon Bianchi for a week end and when I returned it Luca only charged me for 2 days instead of the three days that I actually had the bike. His response, “it rained yesterday so you mustn’t of rode”. Fair enough, It was obvious that this 3rd generation of Rossi bike builders/racers/shop owners must of carried on the work ethnic and sense of fairness that surely embodied and ushered Martino’s father, brothers and his sons Fratelli Rossi bike business into the 21 st century.
Recently I’ve learned that there is a small cycling museum in Siena dedicated to the Rossi brothers, The Bottega Museo di Ranieri Rossi, Cicli f.illi located on via Roma 1. It was here that the three Rossi brothers, Eugenio, Martino and Raineri ran the workshop and sold bicycles since 1935 along with the current location at via Camollia.
Because let me tell you, the shop at via Camollia as it is today is not of this era, and that is precisely what I like about it. If you are ever in Siena, Italy and I strongly urge you to visit, you must stop in to Rossi’s. Located on Via Camollia near the Porta Camollia where looking northward you can faintly see the hills of Chianti in the distance. It’s also a great place to stop with your sweetheart or bike group to just hang out or to take a photo on Siena’s old wall.
Out of all the interesting things in the shop including bikes, old posters and photos on the wall, perhaps the most interesting is the photograph of Martino and his brother circa 1939 dressed in race jersey with the old bike frame they built, including wooden wheel sets. The history of bike building in Italy is legendary. Italian frame sets include; Colnago, Bianchi, Legnano, Ciocc, Rossignoli (haha), Willier, Pinarello, Tommasini, DeRosa, Scorza, Milani and my favorite, Pegoretti. And now the Rossi bike, built right there in Siena, who knew.