Two years ago, on 5 September 2015, the small Italian community of Racconigi honoured an internationally-recognised citizen with a special gesture. At 11:30 a.m., on the west side of Piazza Carlo Alberto, a section of the street was named ‘Via Laura Garello Ferrari’. Laura Garello was born on 10 September 1900 near Torino, the only daughter to Andrea Garello and Delfina Porchietto. On 28 April 1923 she married Enzo Anselmo Ferrari, one of the great pioneers of the automotive industry, an entrepreneurial legend, and founder of the world-famous Scuderia Ferrari. When Enzo courted her in the late 1920s, she was ‘the beautiful dark signora’ – as she was once described by motorsport journalist Hermann Harster. The writer had met the Commendatore’s wife at the German Grand Prix at the Nürburgring on 6 August in 1961 and recalled that her brown eyes often drifted off ‘as if a miracle came out of nowhere’. However, in the life of signora Ferrari, miracles were extremely rare…
Millions of words have been dedicated to describing the life and times of Enzo Ferrari, in books, magazines, newspapers, and now on the internet. But very few words have been written about the woman by his side, who for a long time was a figure in the background, increasingly lonely, but holding a dignified presence until the end.
Who was this Laura Domenica Garello, who in biographies about her husband has been described as everything from a dancer to a ‘puttana’ (prostitue) to a ‘decent, but much-maligned person’? Was she, as Italian journalist and author Gino Rancati put it, ‘a confusing personality with rough edges’? Or was she Ferrari’s alter ego? He himself admitted after her death that ‘now she’s not here any more, I don’t have a point of reference’.
‘Where love prevails, everything else is taken care of’
Enzo Ferrari was born in Modena on 18 February 1898, and by the early 1920s he was constantly travelling between Milan and Turin for a host of different business-related reasons. In his book Enzo Ferrari: The Man, The Cars, The Races, The Machine, American biographer Brock Yates recounts that Ferrari traded cars, bought spare parts, spied on Fiat, listened to the latest industry gossip, and delivered cars to customers. He also started his career as a racing driver at the Parma-Poggio di Berceto hillclimb in 1919. After around 40 national-level races and 11 wins, he stopped racing in 1932.
Ferrari met his future wife Laura Domenica Garello during a business trip, near the Porta Nuova train station in Turin. As part of the street naming celebration in Racconigi in 2015, Aldo Mano – a journalist at Turin daily newspaper La Stampa – wrote: ‘When they first met near the Stazione di Porta Nuova, Laura, who worked as a seamstress in Turin, was just 19 years old. Enzo was 20. It was love at first sight.’ …
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