Just came back from an interesting event in Italy, The Via Flaminia is a full week of driving and eating the Italian way.
To get to the start of the event in Verona, most of the 34 cars and crew were loaded on the "Slaap trein" in Dusseldorf for the overnight trip to the start.
After loading the cars we were treated to a glass of Champagne and went on to find our cabin. We shared our cabin with a Dutch couple and after dinner we settled camping style on the cots. The odds for a good night sleep were not the best, but at least we did get some rest.
After arrival in Verona the next morning, the cars were unloaded. Then we drove the short distance to the Museo Nicolis, where the rest of the group that drove, instead of taking the train, joined us. The museum had a wide variety of cars as well as other items of historic importance. We took some time admiring the mixture and stopped at the Lancia section to take a closer look.
At the introduction of the organizers we were meeting the longtime Lancia collector and organizer Bart Klein who has been doing this and a number of other rallies all over Europe for quite some time.
After the introduction we headed to the Lunch restaurant that was located in the small town of Villafranca.
The Lunch was elaborate with the typical Italian number of courses and as a result we had a hard time concentrating on the directions afterwards, and when we finally arrived in Reggio Emilia we had no way finding the entrance to the Piazza where the cars were to be on display over night. After numerous attempts, we finally stopped and asked for help. A young couple were happy to assist and the wife took Barbara for the short walk to the piazza, while the husband hopped in the car and directed me through the labyrinth of streets and allies until we finally arrived on the Piazza 10 minutes later. The problem was partly due to the Mille Miglia, that was coming through the town and as a result, the normal route was closed for general traffic.
We took some time to enjoy the town and on the way to dinner had a chance to see some of the Mille cars drive by.
The second days event was a 223km trip with another great road choice with hardly any problems to find our way.
The hotel was a large Mission type facility where we had a great dinner before closing for the day.
Third day was another beautiful day with a stop at the Piazza Grande in Arezzo! last September during the Gran Premio Nuvolari, we had a stamp control at this Plazza and made a heart in the road book to make sure we would come back to enjoy the beauty of the city and Piazza. Everybody was lined up on the Piazza and tourists had a good time admiring the cars. We met an English couple that was excited to see not only our cars but they were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary a week in Italy and came across the Mille the day before and now they were having lunch when our group parked in front of their table. Being a classic car fan, he felt he hit the Jack Pot.
After lunch we took off and ended up in the town of Gubbio for the night. Again a great hotel and a total 215km for the day.
The fourth day was a 230km drive with lunch at the Museo Taruffi in the town of Bagnoregio where the collection of micro cars was very complete. The end destination was Civita Castellana at another fascinating stop and a courtyard that we filled up with all the cars.
The fifth day was a short drive to the beach, however we decided to get away for the day on our own because we wanted to visit the city of Cortona. The city is beautiful with a number of piazzas and great restaurants. We first heard of the city through the musician Andre' Rieu when he performed at a concert in one of the Piazzas. After seeing the orchestra in his music video we wanted to visit it for our selves if we ever had a chance. Against all rules we parked on one of the side streets with a tow away sign on it and when the local police arrived I nicely asked them if it was OK to stay there for a while. They did not promise anything but with a smile walked off leaving us alone. I guess having an old Italian car pays off sometime.
For Lunch we decided on Pizza, overlooking the street where the car was parked to make sure the police did not change their mind.
Since we were staying at the same hotel it was an easy drive back to join the group for dinner.
We ended up at a nice castello on the way.
The sixth day was a 210km drive with lunch on our own but with a couple of suggestions near Leonessa. Because we were more interested to find a place in a smaller village we kept going until we ran into a small village with a restaurant just at the edge of the village.
We stopped and were surprised to see inside numerous photos of race cars and motorcycles on the wall. We had a great meal and when we were leaving Barbara talked to the owners and found out that they knew Bart Klein and that they were going to host a lunch for his next event in July.
When we were leaving, the husband of the owner waived us on, to follow him?! We did, and he took us down the street to his home where we were treated to some fun sites. One of the race cars we had seen on the photos was parked in his garage, he then took us for a ride in a three wheel taxi cab with the radio playing some nice Italian music.
As a final serenade he started the race car to let us hear some "Alfa Romeo music"! Before leaving I started the Lancia and let him hear some "Lancia music" as well. A great unexpected visit that made our day.
Arriving at Ascole Piceno we parked on a nice Piazza and then were taken to our hotel a block away.
Dinner was superb and we had time to sit down with another couple before dinner to share a bottle of wine at a quaint wine bar.
The seventh and last day took us on a 150km trip to a winery for lunch and then to the town of Recanati, just south of Rimini. The drive was fairly short, and we took some time to do a tour at the winery and tasted some of their wines together with lunch.
A look at the cars parked in front of the hotel
We had no problem finding the hotel and drank a glass of beer to cool off and settle down for the awards dinner. We did not bother to turn in our reports after each day and so we were not expecting any recognition but Bart must have felt sorry for us and we received a few fun gifts for being last! but not least!
We had a great time even though some of the days seemed a little long. Thanks to Bart and his crew and the good company and a scenery that is fabulous, this event was as successful as can be.
more pictures in the gallery
Leif and Barbara Neuman