WELCOME TO ROSSIVILLE
Despite living in London for a while a decade ago, Valentino Rossi remains very much a homeboy and, unlike many of his rivals, he still lives in the area where he grew up, the small town of Tavullia, Italy.
Located only 12 miles from Misano, Tavullia has a population of 7000. The town has become part of the Rossi legend and there’s no doubt that the residents are extremely proud and protective of their most famous son.
THE VR46 FACTORY
Originally set up to bring production of his merchandising in-house and to give something back to Tavullia by creating employment, the VR46 business is enjoying almost as much success as Rossi the racer, with an estimated turnover of over €10 million a year.
Originally producing only Rossi apparel from the state-of-the-art production line, it first expanded when friend Kevin Schwantz asked if Rossi would produce his line of merchandising too. From there on, the company has snowballed, expanding to produce items for half the Motogp paddock with Cal Crutchlow, Dani Pedrosa, Maverick Viñales and, until their falling out last year, Marc Marquez among the riders represented.
Run by close friend Alberto Tebaldi, the factory is also the base and workshops for the Team Sky VR46 Moto3 team run by fellow childhood friend Uccio Salucci.
DA ROSSI’S PIZZERIA
The centrepoint of the Valentino Rossi empire is the Da Rossi’s Pizzeria set up by Cesarino Salucci, father of Rossi’s close friend Uccio. From humble beginnings it has now morphed into the biggest, loudest and most colourful supporters’ club in motorcycle racing history!
And it remains a focal point for racedays, when swarms of fans descend upon the town to watch from big screens outside the pizzeria and gelato bar, where tables are booked up months in advance.
THE SHOP AND SUPPORTERS’ CLUB
Originally formed in the pizzeria, the supporters’ club has now branched out into its own premises next door to the town’s chapel (where the parish priest famously rings the bells to celebrate a Rossi victory)!
Boasting more than 8000 fully paid-up members from as far away as Siberia, Cuba and Ethiopia, it also contains the only permanent VR46 shop anywhere in the world.
Rumoured to be underway for years, Rossi finally let slip that the final part of making Tavullia the ultimate destination for a VR46 fan is nearing completion – the opening of the biggest collection of Rossi memorabilia anywhere in the world.
Rossi is known as a bit of a hoarder, keeping hold of the majority of his vast collection of helmets, leathers, trophies, gloves, boots, visors, and countless other items picked up over a 20-year Grand Prix career.
Added to that will be a collection of some of the bikes he rode to glory, but no-one outside of his inner circle knows what they are.
It’s believed that at least one Yamaha M1 will be on display at the museum (most likely the 2004 championship bike that used to sit at the bottom of his bed) as well as a Honda RCV211, minimotos, road bikes, 125s and 250s dating right back to the beginning of his career.
It’s going to be something worth seeing when it’s completed!