Notable Competitors, Industrialists and Designers
Carlo Abarth designed motorcycle frames and won the European Championship five times.
Alessandro Anzani engines for aircraft and motorcycles in France and Italy, beginning in 1907. An Anzani engine powered Bleriot's aircraft in the first flight across the English Channel.
Bianchi Edoardo Bianchi built motorcycles in Milano 1897 to 1967. Raised in an orphanage, he became one of the most important figures in Italian motorcycle history. Tazio Nuvolari came to fame riding his machines.
Borgo Brothers Alberto, Carlo and Edmondo Borgo built motorcycles from 1906 to 1926 in Turin. In 1911 they began fitting aluminium pistons, the first firm to do so. Their most famous rider is Victorina Sambri who raced Motoborgo motorcycles before and after the first war. In the 20s the focus of the business shifted to piston manufacture.
Toyo Marama, who seemed to have almost as many names as he had languages, is credited with the introduction of speedway to Italy. Movie material.
Vincenzo Piatti, designer and manufacturer of the Piatti scooter, began his professional life working with Ettore Bugatti, later assisted Suzuki in the development of their four-valve head, and is known for many other projects including the humble Mini-Motor.
Ben Shannon has published a detailed account of his "Twinspin" concept in PDF format, available at world-engine-design.com
Giuseppe Remondini worked with Alfa Romeo, Frera, Nagas & Ray and Jonghi.
Fabio Taglioni played an important role in the histories of Ceccato, Mondial and Ducati. He worked with Ducati from 1954 to 1989 during which time he designed over 1000 engines - and famously, the Desmo system introduced in 1956.
Phil Aynsley's entertaining account of A Party with Fabio Taglioni
Pietro Trespidi (B. Stradella, 27 April 1897 - D. Stradella, 10 July 1976 ) was a designer and entrepreneur who was involved with Gilera, Alpino, Ardito, Parilla, Guazzoni and other marques.
Source: Wikipedia Italy
Pietro Vassena is often referred to as a genius. Best known in the motorcycle world for the flat-twins which powered Carniti and the 125cc horizontal singles (and later twins) fitted to Moto Rumi, he began to make his mark on the world in the early 1920s developing tools for mechanical workshops in his home town of Lecco, on Lake Como. He is credited with many advancements for marine engines, developed what was later known as the jet ski, and built a submarine which plunged to the bottom of Lake Como to establish a world's record. Pietro was photographed waving to John F. Kennedy whilst "walking on water" with his paddle-powered ski boots.
In 1939 he developed a system named the "Autargas Vassena". It was tested using an 85 HP Isotta Fraschini on the Lecco-Rome route, at a cost of L.150 for the petrol. The usual cost would have been L.1000.
During the war he developed a system to power internal combustion engines using wood and charcoal. It is understood that it became widely used.
In 1954 he built a motorcycle with a cast aluminium frame and cardan drive. That year he also developed a system to allow a Beretta pistol to discharge 20 rounds in a single burst, and sold a patent to MV Agusta for an ignition component.
Like many others of enormous talent, he was unburdened by societal norms, making him at times rather frustrating to work with. The Germans apparently did not much like him - in 1944 his wife was sent a list of those in the Lecco area to be eliminated. His name was high on the list.
Pietro died in 1967, his main regret being that he had not been successful in developing something which few had heard of at the time - a hydrogen engine which he began working on in 1963.
Some of the above is a bit garbled and possibly not 100% accurate, but it appears to be largely correct.
Sources: panorama.it/pietro-vassena-leonardo-del-lago-lecco, et al