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Autogrill

Limena (Padua), Italy
1 of 6Archivio storico ENI

The Autogrill is a true icon of the economic rebirth of Italy Its modernity and elegance as a destination along the journey lends itself as both visually pleasant and also a representation of speed and growth of Italy in the 60s, becoming the manifestation of new ideas idea driving the nascent national progress.

These bridging structures are constructed along the northern motorways housing restaurants and cafes, and inviting motorists to bookmark their journeys with various stops. The first Autogrill of this type is so successful that, in 1960, it is published in Life magazine as an expression of the renewed identity of Italian luxury.

The design and construction of this particularly notable Autogrill is carried out between 1961 and 1966 in the northeastern town of Limena, near Padua. It is designed by the Bolognese architect Melchiorre Bega in collaboration with the internationally recognized engineer and builder Pier Luigi Nervi. The building consists of two large rooms on the ground floor, one for each direction, where there are bars and cafeterias surmounted by the bridge structure of the restaurant, with its 40 meters span, crossing the six lanes of the Milan-Venice motorway.

The structure is made entirely of cast-in-place reinforced concrete, with four variable-shaped pillars onto which rest the beams supporting the ceiling of the restaurant. Windows are opened through natural voids where the structural holes of the beams are.