The Italia was Alf's answer to Masi, Cinelli, Colnago, Pogliaghi, and co., who exported a good number of racing frames to the USA in the 60s and 70s. The Italia model never appeared in any catalog, but many were exported to the USA. Alf claimed to have exported 50 to 60 frames a year to the USA; it is not known how many were Italias. The Italia model was based on Prugnat long-point lugs and the clean lines and straight-forward styling of the Italian makers of the time. Many, such as this one, were plain by Hetchins standards, but were nonetheless excellently brazed and finished. Some Italias featured extensions on the fork crowns and seat stays.
This one is noteworthy for two features: first, the very early use of the sloping (Italian-made) fork crown with oval fork blades. Second, the original down tube gothic (or olde English) lettering. This was painted directly onto the tube, not a transfer. Dick Swann was an accomplished calligraphist and often did the hand lettering of owner's names on top tubes, so it is likely that he also did the lettering on the down tube. A few other gothic-lettered down tube logos are known to have survived. The red-white-and-blue paint is original, as is the seat tube laurel crest transfer.
The frame features fastback seat stays with a center-pull cable bridge, extra re-inforcments on the brake bridge, and pencil chain stays. The lugs are particularly nicely slashed and scalloped. Also note the enamelled head tube badge.
The components include: Headset: Campagnolo Record; Bottom Bracket: Campagnolo Record; Crankset & pedals: Campagnolo Nuovo Record, 52, 42 chainrings; Rear derailleur: Campagnolo Record (bronze); Front derailleur: Campagnolo Record; Bar end shifters: Campagnolo Record; Brakes & Levers: Universal 61; Stem: Ambrosio, adjustable (here reversed for more height); Bar: Ambrosio, Champion, Benotto Tape; Seatpost: Campagnolo Nuovo Record; Seat: Brooks Swallow; Hubs: Cinelli Bi Valent, with Regina 5-speed cluster, 14-24; Wheels: Fiamme Red Label with Clement Elveza Sew-ups.
Fotos courtesy of the owner.