Italian Road Trip 2016 – Part Three

Friday dawns clear once more and we’re back on the road. We have a leisurely four-hour drive south to Florence and we’ve planned a number of diversions to add some spice to an otherwise fairly uninspiring journey. It’s somewhat troubling to leave Lake Como behind; not due to its otherworldly beauty – though that is undeniable – but because the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este is taking place mere kilometres from our base. Mercifully, scruffs like us are not permitted entry until Saturday but the presence of special cars in the vicinity, yet just out of reach, is traumatic.

Given the mania around the MotoGP at Mugello, we elect to avoid the legendary Futa and Raticosa passes this time and instead head to the epicentre of the Italian supercar industry: Modena. Those legendary roads can wait until next time.

Our first stop is Sant Agata and the Lamborghini museum. The local roads offer their fair share of interesting machinery and we spot an undisguised Maserati Levante out testing. We never seem to be far from an old Porsche or a 90s Ferrari. The countryside is agricultural and lacking much character or visual stimulation: it’s not unpleasant but it’s slightly barren and rather flat.

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Italian Road Trip 2016 – Part Two

It’s a wrench to drag ourselves away from Weggis with its blissful isolation and cleansing atmosphere but we have progress to make and our next stop is glamorous Lake Como. I finally relinquish control of the wheel and Mrs Motorcardiaries is given the opportunity to experience some Swiss motoring. The early driving is along easy, winding roads along the lakeside, with the usual views of the water framed by high mountains. To our left are jagged rock formations interspersed with high, green fields. Soon we’re ducking between tunnels and we must ease through a hundred of them over the course of the day; some long and illuminated, others just short sections of concrete; open-sided and cantilevered above our heads. I take the opportunity to savour the views and indulge in a bit of car-spotting, with a number of interesting motors heading towards us, including a fabulous two-seat racing bodied Riley special of the sort so beloved of our Continental cousins.

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Italian Road Trip 2016 – Part One

They say the best ideas always come about over a drink – and so the cliché is proven when some semi-inebriated route-planning on the overnight ferry from Hull brings to light that the legendary VLN race series is in action at the Nürburgring tomorrow. We have three hours from disembarking the boat at Rotterdam until the lights go out and 100 snarling GT and touring cars are unleashed around the full Nordsliefe. Can we make it?

At the risk of immediately removing all suspense from the scenario, ‘no’ is the short answer, for even with sections of derestricted autobahn and 480bhp on tap, progress is slow. We finally reach Adenau about an hour into the race, dump the car at Aldi, buy some basic lunch provisions and head for the trackside.

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All Roads Lead to Rechberg – Part 6

It’s impossible to spend any time in Austria without observing constant reference to one of the nation’s most remarkable exports: Red Bull. Dieter Materzitch’s Austrian empire is vast, with his devotion to extreme sports and machinery being most visible at Hangars 7 and 8. These hugely dramatic and cavernous structures are home to numerous of Red Bull’s most important and iconic machines – from the worlds of motor racing, aviation and wider extreme sports.

The buildings themselves are other-worldly – huge monuments to the success of the energy drinks brand. Situated just to the side of Salzburg Airport, the two hangars face one another, flanking a concrete apron leading out onto the airport. Hangar 7 is the larger and is open to the public (for free) year-round. Hangar 8 is used solely for storing aircraft.

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All Roads Lead to Rechberg – Part 5

Monday morning and it’s time to leave Rechberg and head west towards our next resting point at Salzburg. The area immediately around Hotel Vital Styria, which has been our home for the last three nights, is truly breath-taking. Having explored the environs a little, those vistas from The Sound of Music are still unspoilt and utterly beautiful. It’s tempting to stay and just discover more great roads in our locale but we have plenty of ground to cover.

We kick off with an ascent of the hill which hosted the weekend’s racing. Sadly we get stuck behind another motorist which rather curtails any thoughts of challenging Fagiolli’s times but this gives us time to savour the course. It’s smooth, wide and fast. Even the hairpins present a tempting challenge but one’s eyes are constantly drawn to the abundant street furniture and hazards which would pass the racers’ noses at 120mph plus.

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