There are many stories about the origins of the coat of arms adopted to be the badge of Milan’s famous car maker, a badge which has so often been the emblem of Italian honour on the battlefields of motoring sport.
The Milan coat of arms and that of the Visconti family, the dukes of the city used a coat of arms depicting on the left side the Biscione – the mythological serpent devouring a human being, said to represent a marauding dragon which roamed the vicinity of Milan and was slain by Umberto of Angera, the generally accepted founder of the Visconti family, in the early part of the fifth century AD. The serpent is also featured on the Sforza family’s coat of arms.
The right half of the arms depicts a red cross on a white field, symbolising the Visconti and Lombardy involvement in the Christian crusades against the might of Islam between the tenth and thirteenth centuries AD. During these crusades, an army from Lombardy was formed and led by Giovanni of Rho. A small village to the north-west of Milan.
After the crusades, the Visconti family adopted a red cross as its banner, with a serpent’s head at each end of the four members of the cross.
When Giuseppe Merosi was asked to design a badge for the new Milan carmaker Alfa Romeo he took his inspiration from Sforza castle, and so on of the most famous car badges was created. Although Merosi reversed the Biscione and the cross of Milan, they were later switched. Also, the badge was designed in the shape of a proper coat of arms instead of the circle that is used today.
With an incredible amount of background history, since 1910, this is the emblem of one of the finest name in motorsport.