Tomorrow, as part of the centenary celebrations that will run until June 27, a statue will be inaugurated in the city, a bronze sculpture that was inspired by the legendary 1900 "Disco Volante" sports car from 1952.

Alfa Romeo's centenary celebrations were plunged into disarray on the opening day as Milanese former workers blocked the gates to the official museum at Arese in protest at the brand linking the event to its birth city, which today it retains no connection with. Born exactly 100 years ago yesterday in Milan, as "A.L.F.A." (Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobili), and interpreting the city's coat of arms as its badge, once the giant factories at Portello and then Arese simply poured Alfa Romeo's history history through their gates. Today though they are gone, the only slender thread remaining between Alfa Romeo and the city is the official museum which too has the axe hovering over it.

Alfa Romeo chose to return to Italy's undisputed fashion capital, Milan, to honour its birthplace but more than a hundred vocal members of the Cobas SLAI (Sindacato Lavoratori Autorganizzati Intercategoriali) self-organised union gathered round an old Fiat Ducato van with banners, flags, megaphones, music, singing and chanting and blocked the gates for a time, telling the thousands of Alfisti that had come from as far away as Germany, the Netherlands, France and the UK, in modern to vintage cars that they were trampling on an "industrial graveyard."

"We want to show that the celebrations are in what is now an industrial graveyard, where all workers are moved or laid off," said Renato Parimbelli, of Cobas SLAI. "It's also a demonstration against the agreement at Pomigliano [d'Arco], because the history of the factory in Arese was marked by dozens of promises never kept and by blackmail from Fiat."

The enthusiasts along with local police looked on in the warm sunshine, unable to gain access. It was a sting in the tail to the start of the celebrations eerily reminiscent of the launch of the new Alfa 147-replacing Giulietta last year. Then Alfa Romeo had named the model as the "Milano" but just 72 hours before it was due to be presented the name was abandoned and the Giulietta tag hurriedly substituted after protests from former Alfa Romeo workers in Milan. Once the programme at the museum got underway yesterday it was described by many as an amateurish undertaking at best, and although technically independent, there was no input from Alfa Romeo management during the day. Meanwhile FLMUniti-Cub has eschewed the official celebrations and instead set up a photographic exhibition charting the 100 years history of the brand in the former factory.

Tomorrow, as part of the centenary celebrations that will run until June 27 and will also take in a visit to the Monza race track, a statue will be inaugurated in the city, a bronze sculpture that was inspired by the legendary 1900 "Disco Volante" sports car from 1952. Curiously the location chosen for the sculpture is outside the south doors of the "Fiera Milano" complex. The sculpture has been donated by the Registro Italiano Alfa Romeo (RIAR). It was designed by Centro Stile Alfa Romeo in collaboration with Italian artist Agostino Bonalumi with a base created by the architects Monica Mariani and Claudio Lo Passo and features a plaque that tells the intertwining story of the century-old Italian carmaker and RIAR, a non-profit organisation founded in 1962 and which has been recognised by Alfa Romeo for nearly fifty years. Bring the work to life was carried out in conjunction with "Il Cigno GG Edizioni Roma", an Italian company that specialises in realising monuments devised by famous artists worldwide.

Each year RIAR organises events across Italy and abroad that tell the amazing story of Alfa Romeo is the shape of a "travelling museum". At the base of the sculpture is a sealed container with the names of all those who contributed to the project. Meanwhile a run of 1/43 scale replicates of the work will be given to enthusiasts taking part this weekend, and a special run of 100 units of a 1/10 scale version, also crafted out of bronze will be sold complete with a special edition book entitled "Un Monumento per uno Stile" that tells the story of the realisation of the statute by Centro Stile Alfa Romeo.

2010 Interfuture Media/Italiaspeed