So, you’ve just got back from the French Revolution road trip, a pretty full-on run down to the south of France, taking in the best driving roads that part of the world has to offer. What do you do? Kick back and relax, basking in the memory of those glorious days on the road? That would be logical, for sure.
But where’s the fun in logic?
Five days after getting home from the drive down to Monaco we were back on the road again, this time for the Beer Italia road trip. Once again, the ClassicLine-insured Volvo 240 was our steed of choice, its boot filled with spares to support the convoy of sports cars and classics which would be joining us this time. And it was quite a convoy, it has to be said, including Pub2Pub’s first Morgan, the first pre-80s TVR to join one of our trips, and also the first motorcycle; a Ducati which came along at short notice, when the owner’s Audi RS6 sprung a coolant leak just before departure.
As with last year’s trip, the first few days after crossing the channel were spent making a bee-line for Chamonix, while stopping off at various interesting places and seeking some interesting roads en-route. And once we reached Chamonix, the Alps loomed large overhead, offering up twisting passes and stirring views.
Various options were available for crossing the Alps, with most people opting for a full itinerary of passes, starting with the Grand-Saint-Bernard, followed by the Petit San Bernardo, the Col de l’Iseran and the Col du Mont Cenis, before dropping down to the overnight stop near Turin. Four of the best Alpine passes, in one go – some days are more memorable than others, that’s for sure.
For the next day of the trip – our first full day in Italy – we headed from Turin to Modena, where we’d be spending the following few days roaming the supercar museums which document the rise of the region’s famous marques. To get there, as usual there were several options on the itinerary, with the most popular choice being a loop down to the coast to Portofino, followed by a trip over the little-known Colle Della Bocco in Italy’s Ligurian Alps, before blatting up to the evening’s hotel.
Unfortunately, Portofino turned out to be gridlocked and so wasn’t an ideal stop-off, but the neighbouring town of Rapallo still made for a pleasant lunch stop on the shores of the Mediterranean.
For our time in Italy’s supercar central, we were staying in a hotel in Fiorano, a stone’s throw from the Ferrari test track. Not that we threw any stones that way, of course. Such things are frowned upon. What we did do, however, is fan out to visit the hallowed turf of Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati and Pagani, all of which were located a short distance from our hotel. Museums were toured, restaurants were visited, roads were driven and, at the end of the day, beers were drank in the hotel’s rooftop bar.
All in all, an experience which was well worth the drive out from the UK.
But despite Fiorano being the trip’s far-flung destination, it was really only the halfway point, and the drive back contained just as much interest as the outbound trip. Firstly, there were the roads along Lake Garda, which offered both fine views across this prettiest of locations, as well as providing the opportunity to drive the roads made famous by the opening sequence of the James Bond film ‘Quantum of Solace’. And then, there was the biggest pass of all. The Stelvio, which we attacked first thing in the morning, after a night in a hotel at its very base. Following the Stelvio, the hairpins kept on coming thick and fast, on the mountain roads which led to the day’s highlight – the Fluela Pass, to Davos.
After dropping out of the Alps and returning to the real world, it was back to the somewhat less precipitous tarmac which led us back across northern Europe to the English Channel. Naturally, the drive wasn’t devoid of interest, with plenty of compelling stop-offs and fun roads to alleviate any monotony, and soon, the cars of the Beer Italia were rolling back onto the Eurotunnel, bound for the UK.
And as for the ClassicLine-insured Volvo 240?
Well, with two big European tours completed in only three weeks, it was all set for a well-earned change of pace, as it returned to its more relaxing role as a daily driver. Until the Eagle Rally beckons in September, that is…