The Ducati Brothers

The three sons of Antonio Cavalieri Ducati, an industrial engineer who established himself in the late 19th century, are credited with the birth of the Ducati company. Antonio Cavalieri Ducati was from Comacchio and moved to Bologna during the second half of the 1800s, at the height of the industrial revolution.

In 1924 Adriano Cavalieri Ducati, a brilliant physics student, became known for his successful attempt to connect Italy and the United States via radio using a short-wave device of his own invention. There was real fervor in Bologna at that time, due to the birth of Italian radio broadcasting and particularly to the acclaim the city was enjoying as the birthplace of the man who had invented the radio, Guglielmo Marconi.

Spurred on by the success of Adriano’s transmission attempt, the Ducati family founded the "Società Scientifica Radio Brevetti Ducati" on 4 July 1926.

The very first premises were in Bologna city center, on Via Collegio di Spagna 9. Antonio Cavalieri Ducati sadly died in 1927, leaving management of the newly formed company to his two eldest sons, Adriano and Bruno. Shortly afterwards, production was moved to a building on Viale Guidotti 51, at the Ducati family villa just outside the historic center. This was the first large-scale Ducati factory. Construction of the current Borgo Panigale factory began on 1 June 1935, with initial development taking place between 1935 and 1939, before the site was extended between 1940 and 1944. 

Production rapidly expanded from capacitors to radio equipment and precision machining. As a result, the number of employees increased to a point that Ducati became Bologna’s most important industrial firm in the 30s. At the start of the Second World War, the factory was further extended and counted more than 5000 employees.

On 12 October 1944 the factory was seriously damaged in Allied bombings and production ground to a halt until the second half of 1945.

The war over, the Ducati brothers were finally back in Bologna. They had not lost heart and launched production of the Cucciolo, the first motorcycle product to be built in Borgo Panigale, already in March 1946. Unfortunately, due to the damage sustained during the war, the Ducati brothers were no longer able to cope with the high reconstruction costs and the company was taken over by the state in 1948.

The three brothers continued along the same professional path until the mid-fifties, after which they each moved in a different direction, their future paths both significant and very much related to the experience they had shared between 1926 and 1948.

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