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The Alfa Romeo Logo: What’s With The Man-Eating Snake?


The Alfa Romeo badge has a very heraldic, ancient feel to it. Very classy. But what does it mean, and why the hell does it have a giant snake eating a man?

Well, the owners of Alfa Romeo (originally called A.L.F.A. for Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobili, which is translated as Lombard Automobile Factory, Public Company) wanted a logo that was associated with the city of Milan, so they used symbols that Milan had used since the Crusades. The red cross is typical Christian symbol of medieval heraldry and used extensively throughout the crusaides. Back then, seeing a bunch of guys with red crosses painted on them didn’t mean “medic”, it meant: Run for your life.

The man in the serpents mouth is a bit more controversial. It’s a symbol called a biscione, and the man in the image is alternatively described as a child (the modern interpretation) or a Saracen or Moor (aka: a Muslim). So the whole serpent motif is all about the Christians Crusaders’ defeat of the infidels. Yeah, pretty strange.

Alfa obviously doesn’t like to call attention to this, so they don’t. And anytime someone else does, they just say something like “Eh, it’s an ancient symbol of our town, fuck off”. You know how Italians are.