Brand History

Is That a Man-Eating Snake on the Alfa Romeo’s Logo?

Is That a Man-Eating Snake on the Alfa Romeo's Logo?

Car logos can grab your attention because they are either too awesome or downright boring. However, there are also those that can make your head turn towards their direction and go “what the hell did I just see?”

One of those that can leave you scratching your head as soon as you come across it is the Alfa Romeo logo. Worry not because you are not alone in this plight — thousands of people from across the planet are also wondering why the car’s emblem is featuring a gigantic snake (or is that a dragon?) that is devouring a human being, which, according to its body language, looks like it is panicking and desperately looking for help.

Who wouldn’t panic while being consumed by a gigantic snake?

If you have been looking for the answer to such a conundrum from your best buds but you cannot seem to get a real or a convincing answer, just keep on reading this article. Below we will discuss the real reason (or some of the potential reasons — there is quite a handful of them!) behind the peculiar logo Alfa Romeo cars are proudly brandishing. Feel free to share this article on social media sites later on for the sake of your family and friends.

But first, let’s quickly talk about the popular luxury car brand itself.

The acronym A.L.F.A stands for Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobili. That’s an Italian phrase that, when translated to English, means “Lombard Automobile Factory, Public Company”.

It’s in Milan, Italy where the well-known brand of luxury cars hails from, just like some trendy clothes in the pages of fashion magazines and classical artworks displayed inside museums. All Alfa Romeo cars are in fact manufactured in Cassino, which is common in the Italian province, Frosinone. Well, except for Alfa Romeo’s 4C sports car — the Italian automotive company’s first mass-produced automobile of the 21st century to re-enter the North American car market. The 4C sports car is manufactured in Modena, in a plant where Maserati cars are produced, to be exact.

But basically, every single Alfa Romeo car that you can spot on the road today is made in Italy.   

Knowing the hometown of Alfa Romeo is a definite must if you want to have a better understanding of the car’s bizarre logo. It has something to do with the interesting history of Italy. You see, its emblem’s design is divided into two — the left half consists of a red-colored cross on a white background, and the right half that features a massive snake that looks like it is snacking on a tiny red-colored human being.

Let’s get to know that red-colored cross first before the man-eating snake — or dragon, or whatever it is.

That glaring cross in red color on one half of Alfa Romeo’s logo is actually the symbol of the city of Milan. Just like what was mentioned earlier, it’s in this popular Italian city where Alfa Romeo first came into being in 1910. The red-colored cross also has something to do with Milanese soldiers during the time of the crusades — the warriors associated with Giovanni de Rho wore red crosses over white garments right under their armors.

Not familiar with Giovanni de Rho? Well, during the first crusade, he was the leader of an army that was responsible for putting up a cross on the walls of Jerusalem.

The red-colored cross on a white background, by the way, is also the flag of Milan. It doesn’t really come as a surprise why the flag of the birthplace of Alfa Romeo is on its logo.

Let’s now talk about the other half of Alfa Romeo’s logo, which is what this article is primarily about.

One of the most prominent clans in the entire history of Italy is the Visconti family. Put simply, the said family used to rule Milan, and their power and influence were felt in almost all of the northern part of Italy. An emblem was associated with the Visconti family, and that’s the very same thing that we can spot today on the right side of the logo of Alfa Romeo. As a matter of fact, if you look around Milan, you will find the royal badge in so many places.

That strange-looking design has a name, and it’s the Biscione. Sometimes it is also called the Vipera.

What makes the Biscione stranger still is that the human being that the snake (yes, that is a snake although some would argue that it’s a dragon as it looks like one) is devouring is believed to be a child. In some instances, it is said to be an Ottoman Turk, or what’s sometimes referred to as a Moor. Although it’s true that this badge was used by the Visconti family, the fact is that people do not seem to come to an agreement when it comes to its origins.

Some of the things that are being said about this unusual emblem include:

·          The Visconti family chose to represent itself as a man-eating snake to show everyone in Milan and probably Paris and the rest of the world who’s boss.

·          According to a local legend, the snake was a creature that threatened the land a long, long time ago, and it was slain by Uberto, Squire of Angera, who also happens to be the founder of the Visconti family.

·          It represented the snakes that the Lombards, Germanic people who ruled most parts of Italy centuries ago, that they actually wore around their necks as trendy fashion accessories.

·          The snake provides divine protection, and that’s why it was used as an emblem by Archbishop Ottone Visconti while spearheading the battle against the Saracens during the first crusade.

·          Many feel that it is related to another symbol that features a snake, the ouroboros, although many point out that the snake is devouring its own tail (symbolizing infinity or rebirth) and not a human being.

According to the representatives of Alfa Romeo, however, the right part of the Italian luxury car’s logo is not depicting a human being swallowed by a snake. Instead, it is a human being coming out from the mouth of a snake. They add that the design is all about renewal and purification, which is the very same thing that is represented by a snake shedding its skin periodically in order to give rise to a new one.

So there ­— that’s not a human being, which some people say is a baby or a Muslim person, that the massive snake on the automobile Alfa Romeo logo is eating. Rather, it’s a man that is being given birth to by the snake, say the people from the Italian car company itself.

However, some people cannot help but notice that the body language of the person in the mouth of the snake doesn’t say that it is being reborn. They say that it is obviously in a state of panic, as evidenced by its arms outstretched to the sides of its body in an attempt to catch everyone’s attention and get much-needed assistance.

How about you? What is your take on the meaning of the Alfa Romeo logo? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below — let the readers be the judge!

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