Francesco Baracca was born in Lugo di Romagna on May 9, 1888, into a wealthy family. His father Enrico was a landowner and a businessman, his mother a countess. After his studies in his hometown and in Florence, he joined the Italian Army officer school in Modena. In 1910, with the rank of Sottotenente (Second Lieutnant) Baracca was assigned to the prestigious Piemonte Reale Cavalry Regiment. In Rome, where the unit had his headquarters, the young officer was appreciated as a rider too. In 1912 he requested the assignment to aviation, the new branch of the Army which stood out during the Italo-Turkish war, and was sent to France, where he learnt to pilot in Bétheny, near Reims, and received the pilot license 1037. After his return to Italy, he quickly gained the reputation as a first class pilot and, when Italy declared war to Austria, he went back to France, as he wanted to fly on the new Nieuport fighter.
Casa Baracca - The museum
Reconstructed in 1916 but probably dating back to the second half of the nineteenth century, the house belonged to the Baracca family until 1951, when it was given to the municipality of Lugo following the wishes expressed in the will of Count Enrico Baracca, father of Francesco, that it be used as a museum.
The inscription in marble on the front of the building confirms that this is the birth house of the First World War ace, despite various sources which refer to the nearby locality of San Potito, the location of one of the agricultural estates of the Baracca family. The building housed the middle school “Silvestro Gherardi” until the mid-Seventies. It was then occupied by various associations, the Resistance Museum, and finally Francesco Baracca Museum since the 20th of June 1993, following the transfer of the museum from its original location in the Estense fortress. The façade is an example of twentieth century eclecticism, to which decorative elements in the floral style of the beginning of the century have been added. Various vintage glass doors and elegant wooden furnishings by the sculptor Antonio Turri (Lugo 1872-1932) have been conserved inside the building, as well as pastels and frescoes on the main ceilings by the artist Domenico Pasi (Lugo 1892 - 1923). Established by the municipality of Lugo in 1926 and located in a room at the entrance of the Estense fortress until 1990, the Francesco Baracca museum was transferred to the birth house of the Italian aviation pioneer in 1993, in keeping with the wishes expressed in the will of his father, the count Enrico.
From June 1993 to April 1999, the Museum, which works closely with the “Friends of the Baracca Museum” association, housed a first section on the ground floor only, with the aeroplane and various mementoes. The works, which began in 1999, allowed a consolidation of the building, particularly the roof and the façade. The architectural barriers were pulled down and a lift put in to connect the three floors of the building, which was rebuilt in Liberty style at the beginning of the twentieth century. These works, which required the building to close for two years, doubled the exhibition area of the Museum, which was finally able to house a large number of mementoes, furnishings and documents, and provide suitable facilities for a rich cultural heritage, making various materials available to the public which had never been exhibited before. The acquisition of the final floor, in 2006, allowed all the relics on Francesco Baracca to be included in the exhibition.
The Museum is the starting point of a city tour which includes the Monument, designed and completed in 1936 by the Faenza sculptor Domenico Rambelli, declared one of the best expressions of twentieth century Italian sculpture, and the Burial Chapel, decorated by the artist Roberto Sella of Lugo, located in the town cemetery, inside which you can admire the majestic sarcophagus cast using the bronze of the Austrian cannons from the Kras region.
The prancing horse
From 1909 to 1910, Francesco Baracca attended the cavalry school in Pinerolo , as part of the 2nd “Piemonte Reale” Regiment, which was established in 1692 by the Duke of Savoy with the motto “Venustus et Audax”. One of the most prestigious units of the Italian army, its emblem is the silver “Cavallino Rampante” , a prancing horse , on a red background, looking toward the left with its tail pointing downward. Francesco Baracca chose to adopt the emblem of the “Piemonte Cavalry” – with a few changes – as his personal emblem, so as to honour his own military origins and his love of horses. The “cavallino” didn’t appear on the first aeroplanes flown by the Ace of Aces; its debut was in 1917, when the 91st Air Squadron was established. The French Allies equipped this unit with the latest fighter aircraft: the Nieuport 17 and a few SPAD VII and XIII. The pilots used to paint their personal emblems on the right side of the fuselage of their aircraft, and Baracca chose the prancing horse as his, changing it from silver to black so it would stand out more against the colour of the fuselage. It has by now been proven that the cavallino has always been black, though a multilayered painted panel in the collections, which certainly existed prior to Baracca’s death, shows it looking toward the right. When Enzo Ferrari, driving an Alfa Romeo RL-Targa Florio with Giulio Ramponi, won the first Savio Circuit in Ravenna on 16th June 1923, he came across Count Enrico Baracca, Francesco’s father, whom he had already met in Bologna some time before. That second encounter, as Ferrari himself wrote on 3rd July 1985 to Lugo historian Giovanni Manzoni, gave rise to yet another meeting, this time with Francesco’s mother, Countess Paolina Biancoli. “This is what she said to me one day:” – wrote the Maranello car manufacturer: “Ferrari, use my son’s prancing horse on your cars. It will bring you good luck. ” (…) “I still have Baracca’s photograph, with his parents’ dedication entrusting his emblem to me” – concluded Ferrari – “The horse was and has remained black, but I added the canary yellow background, the colour of Modena”. According to authoritative testimonials, Enzo Ferrari’s choice was driven by a love of Giovanni Pascoli’s poem, “La cavallina storna”, and a great admiration for Francesco Baracca, which dated back to his adolescent years. After having raced for the Portello car manufacturer, Ferrari became a dealer in Emilia-Romagna and the Marche regions in 1927, with headquarters in Modena. For two years, Ferrari sold automobiles, organised races and drove those vehicles himself. The legendary “cavallino”, which would become indelibly linked to Enzo Ferrari’s name from 1929 on, with the founding of the Ferrari racing team and the adoption of the prancing horse as its symbol, hadn’t actually appeared on the automobiles yet. The debut of the “cavallino” on the Ferrari team’s Alfa Romeos only came on 9th July 1932, at the Total 24 Hours of Spa-Francoschamps in Belgium .
from Tuesday to Sunday 10-12 / 16-18 (closed on Mondays).
The Baracca Museum is accessible for disabled people.
the first of January, the 15th of May, the second and the third week of August and from Dicember the 25th to the 31st.
Full price ticket € 2,50 - Reduced price ticket € 1,50
via Baracca,65 Lugo 48022 (RA)
Management Offices +39054538561 (English-French-German Spoken)