Florio Monti is one of the most incredible people I have ever met. He's almost 90, and still goes out jogging every day - no wonder he still fits into his leathers that he bought back in the late '40s. He drove trucks for Piaggio during WW2, and was constantly held up at gunpoint by either German SS units or Italian partisans whilst out delivering in the hills surrounding the factory at Pontedera.
He raced motorcycles and scooters, and was a works rider for Gilera, Piaggio (check the photo of him riding a Vespa Sei Giorni down a mountainside) and Perugina, and rode a Laverda 100 as a privateers in events such as the Giro d'Italia and the Milano Taranto - he's still got the number tabards to prove it. he tuned his bikes, using tricks like lightening the pistons as shown above. Those were the days when these events were tough, dangerous races on tough, dangerous broken up dirt tracks that passed for roads, not like the corporate sponsor-fest re-run tourist events of today. You rode for 24 hours virtually non-stop, you pissed into your leathers, and were lucky not to be taken out by stray dogs or hay carts in the middle of the night. If you finished, it was an achievement - winning was a miracle. Florio ran a bike shop from the same workshop where his dad had set up fixing motors back in 1902 - the ancient tiled floor shows 110 years of wear.
Florio still rides his bikes today and I was honoured to have him as part of my motorized convoy to the church when I got married last year.
More on Florio in a future issue of the magazine.