It’s genuinely difficult to think of a better ambassador for MotoGP than Valentino Rossi. Apart from winning nine world championships, taking 115 individual race wins, and securing 235 podium finishes for himself over the course of his two-wheeled career, his sheer enthusiasm and engagement with fans is tough to beat. Add to that the fact that he’s been working behind the scenes for a long time to train the racers of tomorrow, and it’s clear that his value to motorsport is pretty much incalculable.
All these reasons and more are why his hometown of Tavullia, Italy is keen to celebrate its homegrown international superstar. That’s why the town, along with cultural association Wallabe Urban Art, invited street artist Andrea Buglisi to create a fantastic mural showing Rossi as the rock star he really is.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony was officially held in Tavullia on April 11, 2023, which was attended by Valentino Rossi, as well as Tavullia mayor Francesca Paolucci. The mural draws inspiration from the cover of David Bowie’s Aladdin Sane, while the text beneath is a quote from a line in Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven.” It reads, “To be a rock and not to roll,” which Buglisi says is indicative of Rossi’s general sporting discipline.
While Rossi is undeniably talented at racing—mostly on two wheels, but apparently also on four as well—one of his other great gifts is that infectious enthusiasm he has for motorsport. That’s what Buglisi hoped to capture here—and why he depicts Rossi as a rock star of motorsport. It’s an apt comparison, and a level that few other racers have reached.
This isn’t the only celebration that Tavullia has planned for its most famous son. According to Speedweek, Tavullia’s mayor believes that his home should be “a kind of open-air museum.” Not every racer gets to so thoroughly enjoy their success and the mark they’ve made on their sport while they’re still with us, so it’s a nice thing to see. We look forward to seeing what other artistic interpretations are drawn from Rossi’s career and gigantic personality in the future.