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Luciano Nicolis

The museum was his “lifelong dream” since, as a boy, he collected paper for recycling by biking around the villages nearby.

Luciano Nicolis, authentic Verona born, made this dream come true in 2000, when he inaugurated “his Museum” which was immediately opened to the public. In the “Museum of Cars, Technology and Mechanics” he has gathered together unfindable and precious items that his fascination for mechanics led him to seek out all around the world: cars, motorbikes, bicycles and also musical instruments, cameras, typewriters and other items of human genius.

He even managed to transmit the same passion to his family, who have always backed him up and helped him. The museum was his habit and his enjoyment, he wanted it to be spectacular and creative with the collections constantly improved.

He loved acting as guide for the visitors, introducing himself as “I’m the nutcase who did all this”, and he amazed everyone telling the story of each single piece, where it came from, its history and curios. He was enthusiastically walking around “his museum”, bursting with ideas and projects.

Yet, when someone asked him anything about “his collections, he answered “we are not the owners of all this, just the safekeepers for the future…”

Watch the Luciano Nicolis’ History  Video


Luciano Nicolis remembers:


“Today I remember it with pleasure, but as a child I was ashamed: when I was a teenager, after school I used to cycle to Mantua and collect paper sacks. The war had recently ended, and at 14 I’d pedal off to seek my fortune in the shape of old cement bags, the type builders throw away; I’d collect up to 300, and cycle home sweating kilos. I did well, and my dad was pleased with me. I was captivated and fascinated by mechanics and cars; I wanted to chase my dreams and make them come true. Whenever I saw a car I’d think: one day I’ll have a beautiful car too…. maybe two… or three.”


“My father Francesco was pleased with me, he believed in me. And so we began our work recovering paper.”

“As a young man, when I bought my first van, I used to play about, put my feet on the steering wheel and look through the other corner of the windscreen, using my hand to accelerate. So anyone coming the other way got a shock, seeing no one driving. I enjoyed messing about like that; these days it would be really dangerous.”


“And that’s how it began: my passion came from dismantling car parts to fix the van I had when I first started working. Because of that I started to understand mechanics, and I fell in love with the insides of cars.”



Saro Rolandi, then president of the Veteran Car Club Enrico Bernardi, based in Villafranca, speaks warmly of Luciano Nicolis’ passion for cars. Saro Rolandi was a prominent figure in the emerging field of vintage car collecting; a journalist and historian, he worked on numerous international stories. He is remembered for his deep culture, experience and human gifts.

Rolandi publicised the story of Enrico Bernardi all over the world, with accurate, well-documented research presented in 1984 at Gran Guardia, Verona.

He organised major competitions including the Stallavena-Bosco and the Salita della Torricelle.

Telenuovo feature, interview by Danilo Castellarin.

“I think it was in 1983, Telenuovo had just been launched and this was my first TV appearance. I was 30. You can see, I had a bit more hair then… Luciano didn’t want to appear in the programme and he sent Saro Rolandi, then president of the club, to answer my questions. We were in Via Genova and we had to go up some steps. Just that and Saro was out of breath; he had heart problems, and he died a few months later in Turin, during a conference on Enrico Bernardi. Obviously even then I was fixated on making the Stallavena-Bosco a major event.” Danilo Castellarin, Verona, 6 March 2018.

Following Saro Rolandi’s sudden death, Luciano Nicolis became president of the VCC Enrico Bernardi, based in Villafranca.

In an unpublished interview, he talks about the origins and history of the collection of period cars, which in those days were considered a type of antique.

A wealth of culture for future generations.
He said

We’re not the owners of all this, we’re custodians for the future.

Think how wonderful it is to be able to say: today I’ve eaten thanks to money earned by my own work, my commitment and sacrifice! There would be no room for fighting, envy and wars…
But those who want to eat what belongs to others will never be satisfied and never happy!

Life is light and shade, flower and thorn. Don’t complain that the rose has thorns; take comfort that thorns bear roses…

Satisfaction comes only from sacrifice. Not letting your children make sacrifices means that one day you’ll be responsible for having unsatisfied children. I’ll finish with this phrase, which I’m very fond of: Quo quisque est bonus eo est carus. The better one is, the dearer one becomes. Life always rewards us for good behaviour!

Article 1 of our constitution underlines that Italy is a republic founded on work. A res publica, i.e. a public asset that only prospers from the efforts of all. Doing one’s job well should therefore be the main motivation, not being paid to do it. I’ll explain: money is necessary, but it’s only the recognition we receive for a job well done, not the ultimate aim of working. Therefore, it a company’s primary responsibility is to create wealth which will then be redistributed, put into circulation; the responsibility of the worker to the company is simply to do their duty.

It’s not adversity that kills, it’s fear of adversity.

Throughout my life, I’ve never changed my reference points. First and foremost I believe an entrepreneur should be an example for their employees, and not command just because they’re the boss; I also think there should be harmony in the family: for me it’s a support I can’t do without, in any circumstances. Similarly, I want there to be the same harmony between workers, because without collaboration the company can’t advance; indeed, it risks a war with itself. I always tell my staff: go out for dinner together; I’ll pay, you learn to get along with each other. Another value that’s really important to me is intellectual honesty: if a deal is the real deal, both parties need to be satisfied; otherwise it’s exploitation. And that’s not acceptable.

Studying, searching, always learning is part of human instinct, it helps to bring out the knowledge each person has inside. What’s more, in modern companies, continuous training and research are needed in an ongoing quest for ethics and respect, and to bring out the talents of individuals.

Ethics has become a fashionable word, and so it’s often used inappropriately. For ethical behaviour we don’t need a whole load of laws, we just need to live with integrity and not harm other people. In the business world you have to get it into your head that you can’t cheat… it’s not a right! In short, we need to raise awareness and do things fairly, even though that always seems harder… We used to be taught to respect a verbal agreement, and that’s something I’ve always followed, because even though it’s sometimes expensive, in the end life rewards you!

A company needs to feel the pleasure of social responsibility; it should be driven by personal motivation, not obligation, to give back to the local community part of the wealth it creates with its work, its ingenuity, its capital. Only by doing that can we really prove that it’s better to give than to receive. The Museo Nicolis itself, which supports manufacturing firms, was created not only to