Regular blog readers might remember Part 1? If not you can get caught up by clicking on the link. "Better late than never" as they say! After Part 1 we kind of lost track of Celeste, one of those "he was busy, we were busy" kind of things that happen too often. But in December of last year while riding around the Villa Borghese park on his ancient MTB, who should Larry see doing the same thing? You guessed it....our friend Celeste Milani! Plans were soon made to get together....but....
....the Pope needed a Milani Cycle among other things and Celeste was seemingly always moving between his HQ near Milan and his other home here in Rome - the reason Larry ran into him back in December 2014 in the first place. Above you can see Papa Francesco and Celeste as they discuss his new bicycle.
But finally....after a couple of failed attempts we were able to enjoy the dinner invitation from Celeste & Paola who you can see here with daughter Isotta and her Milani bicycle. They were kind hosts and we spent an enjoyable evening together..one that passed way too quickly. Next up was a ride together.
Which FINALLY happened today! Larry shows up on his ancient MTB figuring Milani will be doing the same, but instead he rolls up on a state-of-the-art MILANI Cycles machine complete with super-duper, carbon-fiber, tubular, aerodynamic wheels! Mamma Mia, how is Larry going to keep up with this? Larry insisted Celeste take it easy so they cruised around, enjoying the sights of the old Olympic Village from the Rome 1960 Games before rolling along on the pista ciclabile as you see here, where we posed at the far end near the GRA.
The RAI TV headquarters is out here too so Celeste took Larry for a tour around the huge complex, explaining why the hell it's RAI instead of RTI for Radio Televisione Italiana? Celeste said originally it was Radio Audiovisione Italiana.
During the ride back into Rome Larry was able to get some more background on Milani Cycles. Celeste's father Natale turned off his torch in 1995 like so many others in Italy when bikes welded from aluminum began to dominate the market. These industrial products required far less time-consuming finish work like filing brazed lugs or pinned joints, so their profit margin could be higher, driving most of the traditional lugged-steel framebuilders out of the trade unless they wanted to join them.
Meanwhile Celeste was working in what we'd call the "luxury goods business" one where he learned that clients would pay good money for products made with passion and authenticity. In 2005 he decided to give his father's (who passed away just three months later) bike company a rebirth to cater to those who wanted something more than a mass-produced, industrial product. He's been at it ever since, now assisted by nephew Filippo who runs the operation day-to-day up in Gallarate while Celeste divides his time between there and Rome.
We're making more plans to enjoy time with our friend, perhaps going to the upcoming Strade Bianche race together next month?
Grazie Celeste e tutti!