Beginning with Piero Puricelli’s first project for the motorway that stretches from Milan to the lakes in the Alpine foothills, about 500 km of motorways were built in Italy between the two wars. The implementation of this network must not be viewed as an isolated event, but as part of the process of growth and modernisation of the Italian road network, from Giolitti’s age until the constitution of the Azienda autonoma statale della strada (Self-governing state road enterprise) in 1928. The building of motorways was meant to create new, long-distance communication axes as happened for the railway network in the nineteenth century. At the same time it was also a purely pragmatic choice aimed at obtaining advantages for various proponents (building contractors, automotive industry, professional associations). The Great Depression of 1929 brought network development to a standstill as the disparity between cost and benefit became more pronounced, especially for countries with a very low motorization index like Italy.