Europe 2012 Tour Report

The Tour of Europe in June 2012 from Maranello Italy to the Festival of Speed at Goodwood, England, was a major undertaking. 22 days on the road, 15 hotels, 10 countries, 22 Alpine Passes, 4,500 kms, 2 years in the planning and I could not have been happier with the result.

The tour party consisted of 8 cars, 15 Adults and 2 children, all of who have now formed the sort of bind that cements friendships for years.
The cars on tour were. Ferrari 360 Spider,  Lotus Evora S,  Maserati Grand Sport, M.Benz E220 Cab, BMW X1 and 3 Peugeot RCZ’s, all performed brilliantly and helped make the tour such a fun trip.
The following is a daily run down on the tour, to give an idea of how it went. If you have any questions please mail me at david@drivingadventures.com.au.
And Yes, the tour will be on again in 2013. Let me know if you are keen.

The Tour Gathers – Maranello

Sunday 10 June – Day 1 of the Tour.
It has finally arrived after all the planning and waiting, the group is gathering in Maranello. We have washed the RCZ ready lead the way. First to arrive was Ian in the Lotus Evora. He had driven it down from the UK was impressed how it went. Ian booked in Saturday night so we were able to have dinner and a few drinks in realative calm. Maranello was going off. The town centre was closed to traffic and there were stall selling bits and pieces and a song and dance show on a stage. There were people everywhere with no sign of slowing down when we left at midnight.
Next to arrive was Sandro, Jo and the boys in a Maserati GrandSport, mid morning Sunday. Lunch time we greeted Brenton and Jane in their RCZ who were followed into the carpark by the two Peters in their 360 Spider. I was still saying hi to all when Gary and Janine rolled up in a diesel E Cabrio instead of the petrol SLK he ordered closely followed by the RCZ of Phil who had brought it down solo from the UK through Paris. Last to arrive were Roger and Allen who had also run foul of Avis when their 330 BMW turned out to be a X1, nice enough but not what was planned.
Our 1st dinner together

We met for drinks at 4pm and all got introduced, swapping stories of trips from Australia before walking into town for dinner at a pizza place on the town square. Lots of noise and action as Italy were playing Spain in a world cup qualifier followed by the F1 from Canada. A fun 1st night was had including a mass migration from our outside tables when it started to rain.

Enzo Day


Monday 11 June – Day 2
Enzo Day

 

 
Museum Car Park
The Group
What a great day. We started slowly as most had chores to do, laundry, GPS shopping a couple of car fixes etc but by 11am we walked up to the Ferrari Museum, just around the corner from the hotel. Great fun with a huge display of cars from F1 to 458’s and a smattering of older models. We broke for a lunch break then drove into Modena, a surprisingly large and pretty city, where we visited the new Enzo Ferrari Museum. This place is fantastic and a must for any petrol head. The displays a beautiful as well as informative and the car space is amazing. Clean, uncluttered with some amazing machine, everyone thought it the best motoring museum any of us had ever visited.
Chris in Enzo’s Chair
 
We arrived back in Maranello around 6pm for a session on the road book enhancements before heading across the street to the Cavalino Restaurant, where Enzo Ferrari ate most days. The place is stuffed with Ferrari memorabilia, the food and wine excellent and best of all after dinner we had a look at Enzo’s private dining room, posed for pictures and had a great time.
 
 

 

Maranello – Borgo Scopeto – We Hit The Road.

Tuesday 12 June – Day 3
The first road day.
Maranello – Borgo Scopeto.
Some of our fleet at lunch
Borgo Scopeto – Beautiful
Roof Top View
We finally hit the road and we managed it in style. A warn sunny morning in Maranello as we headed into the Apennine Mountains for some brilliant roads. As we climbed the wind picked up and the clouds darkened as the temperature dropped. We got down to 12 at one stage a far cry from the 30’s of the last few days. We came across a few wet roads but managed to miss the showers. The Peter’s set the pace taking off a few minutes before the rest of us in their beautiful 360. With Gary and Janine last away. We took our time and enjoyed a few stops for pictures as well as coffee. Brenton and Jane topped us all by falling in with a couple of strangers for what turned out to be a long lunch. The rest of  us all managed to arrive at the hotel about the same time and in keeping with the spirit of the tour headed to the bar to swap stories of the drive down.
Wine Tasting
Conversations in Dark Corners
The hotel invited us to a wine tasting in their cellar before dinner, it was stunning setting with some great wines, just we needed heading into dinner. The hotel, Borgo Scopeto is based around a 1,000 year old tower with all the buildings set in the same style. A beautiful place and the staff really know how to spoil you. It is getting rave reviews from the entire group.

 

Day 4 – Time for a rest

Wednesday 13 June – Day 4
Rest Day at Borgo Scopeto
Today was a day to enjoy the surroundings of amazing hotel and to rest up before we hit get into the full swing of the tour tomorrow. Most had a late breakfast then went to Siena to do some sightseeing while quiet a few headed to the luxury goods outlet the other side of Siena. !st back were the Peter’s in their 360 looking perfect as the came up the driveway to the hotel.
Dinner was another boisterous session with lots of tales and laughter.

 

A Real Driving Adventure

Thursday 14 June – Day 5
Borgo Scopeto – Portofino
A Real Driving Adventure
Our Fleet
La Spezia from our lunch spot
Cinque Terre
Today started with a photo shoot of all the cars in front of reception at Borgo Scopeto. Our art director Jane arranged the cars just the way she wanted them only to find that we were a car short. Sandro was washing his. The drive was brilliant. A transport stage out to Sam Gimignano then into the hills for some very special stages. We had lunch just out La Spezia in a restaurant overlooking the bay before driving through Cinque Terre. This really turned into an adventure as the main (tight and twisty) road had been swept away in a flood and the by-pass had us crawl down a one lane track to the base of the mountain then up the otherside. Oncoming traffic met backing and filling until you could squeeze past. A REAL driving adventure. The last stage saw us wind through the narrow roads leading to Portofino and the Hotel Splendido. A great place to get spoilt.
Cinque Terre Mono Rail – The only way to some of the villages.
Dinner tonight was at a sister hotel on the quay-side. We had an outside table overlooking the harbour for our 6 course meal, just superb.

 

Blasting Through The Tunnels

Friday 15 June – Day 6
Portofino – Monaco
Blasting Through The Tunnels
Portofino from our room
Portofino Parjing – No need for side stands
A nice easy start to the day with a late, extended breakfast on the terrace overlooking Portofino Harbour. Sun shining, birds singing, just a wonderful place to be. Check out was midday so we took our time packing up before going for a stroll through town. It maybe a tourist trap but it has to be one of the nicest tourist traps you will find anywhere.
Monaco
The drive today was pretty straight forward run up the auto-strada to Monaco, except it is anything but straight forward. The road wind through spectacular scenery, over steep valleys and through tunnel after tunnel. We counted 142 of them and if you are anywhere near a Ferrari or Maserati, the noise is magical. Somedays the RCZ just doesn’t cut it as far as sound effects go.

 

We attempt the Monte Carlo Rally – sort of

Saturday 16 June – Day 7
Monaco
Who wants to be a rally driver?
Col de Turini

Today we all had plenty of options. You could catch up on some sleep, go shopping, be a tourist or drive some of the famous stages of the Monte Carlo Rally. A no brainer for me. We headed out of Monaco mid-morning through Menton before turning towards the Col de Castillon. Tight twist with no room for error this was a great road to test yourself, then just as you thought you were doing a pretty good job you remembered that we were doing on a perfect summer day under a cloudless sky. The rally drivers do this stage and the others in January often with the roads covered in snow and ice. Having seen the stage, they certainly earn their money.

The Casino – Everything on Red

We had the interesting development of nearly running out of fuel. Thinking we could get some after Menton  and with a computer telling us that we had enough to get back to Monaco both Sandro and I found ourselves very low by the top of Col de Turini. We then left the course to the nearest fuel station over 20 km away. The good news the road was awesome, another stage road it was brilliant. We however were in economy mode, lots of 4th gear to get going the neutral for long down hill stretches. Amazing how fuel efficient you can be when you have too. We made a fuel station some 60km after starting to worry, saw some amazing roads and had yet another driving adventure.

Some of the cars outside the casino. The place to be seen.

Once back in Monaco we took a turn around the circuit watching all the cars go by. This has to be THE place to go car spotting. More Ferraris than you can imagine including a F40 heading to the casino.

All in all a great 36 hours in Monaco but it is time to move on the Alps are calling.

 

Le Route Napoleon

Sunday 17 June – Day 8
Monaco – Grenoble
Le Route Napoleon
Our Early Morning Company
Lunch Stop Line-Up
Octane Magazine rates the Route Napoleon as the greatest driving road in the world. We drove it today. A brilliantly tortured piece of bitumen it runs for nearly 400km from Cannes to Grenoble. Named such as it follows the route of Napoleon after he escaped from exile in Elba and marched towards Paris.
Cool Corner and Heaps of Them
Before hitting the Route we cleared Monaco and headed down the Autoroute keeping close company with a Gallardo Spider, a Maserati and Ian in the  Lotus Evora S. There was a fair bit of Sunday traffic all the way to Castellion but after that the road was every bit as magical as it’s reputation. Even more so for me today as Ian swapped cars with me so I had a Supercharged Lotus for about 200 km’s of the best road on earth. I know, I know but someone has to do it. The only break was a lunch stop in a small café by the roadside in the middle of nowhere where we caught up with a Cobra, an E Type and a Porsche also doing a bit of a drive.
Time to Return the Evora S
Home tonight is in Grenoble, nestled in amongst the peaks of the alps it has an amazing setting. The real surprise was entering the hotel car park to find a whole section  reserved for us and another group of Lotus cars also on a tour of the alps from the UK. It must be the season.

 

The Alps!!

Monday 18 June – Day 9
Grenoble – Martigny
The Alps!!
Resting at the top – St Bernard Pass Grande
This is the day we have been waiting for. An absolutely brilliant day had by all. 3 alpine passes, brilliant scenery great stops in beautiful villages and everyone had fun.
The Ferrari always attracts a crowd
St Bernard Pass as per the Sat-Nav
St Bernard Pass from the top
La Thuile – Our Lunch Stop
We kicked off with a 100 km of Auto-route before taking to the alps from Albertville. We started gently, climbing through thick forests along raging streams. Morning tea was in Beaufort a busy French village surrounded by towering peaks and with a brilliant patisserie.  The Ferrari was a big hit with the crowds and as we had coffee we watched a string of sports cars and a horde of bike head toward the top of the climb, and what a climb it is, one of the most picturesque that I have come across complete with a glacial lake near the summit. The descent took us to Bourg-Saint-Maurice before we started up our 2nd pass, the Petite St Bernard, famous for the dogs but a beautiful road with a ski resort near the top. We had a lunch stop down the Italian side of the pass in La Thuile. There is something about a late Italian lunch in an open air café, surrounded by mountain peaks with the sound of the rapids that run through town as a soundtrack.
Our final pass of the day was the St Bernard Grande, we by-passed the tunnel and went over the top, dodging the Italian Police as we went only to be confronted by an incredibly bored Swiss Border Guard at the top. I think he was a bit over Australian tourists in cars that smelt really hot.
A great day.

 

The Furka Pass!!!!

Tuesday 19 June – Day 10
Martigny – St Moritz
The Furka!!
The Furka Pass from the Top
It takes a lot of work to keep the Ferrari clean
Forget what Top Gear says, the Furka Pass has to be the best driving road on Earth. It climbs to 2400 metres starting in a heavily forested valley, flows through tight twisty sections, fast flowing corners and steep snow lined climbs. The scenery is spectacular and we drove it today.
Story Swapping near the Top
The Furka was about 100 km into our drive which started with a  motorway section down a glacial valley then a  minor road through grape vines and ancient castles to the Pass. Great stuff. There is a stunning descent followed by another run along a valley to the Oblerpass, not as spectacular but still plenty of fun. We stopped for lunch at a brilliant café with a sun deck overlooking the pass and the snow capped peaks. Afterwards we pressed on towards our final alpine pass of the day, The Julier, another 2,000 metre + pass. There was a bit of traffic around but it cleared at just the right time for Ian in the Lotus to have a great run, stand-by for the GoPro footage.
The View from our Lunch Stop
Home tonight is St Moritz where we share the hotel with a historic rally. Lots of great cars and plenty of stories floating around the bars.
How do we top a day like this?
 

 

Passo di Stelvio


Wednesday 20 June – Day 11

 

St Moritz – Bormio
Passo di Stelvio
Terzini Family head Down The Stelvio
 
Everyone is Amused at the Packing Exercise
A great day of Alpine Passes, we started with a quick run up the little known Albula Pass, no traffic, stunning scenery, exactly the sort of road we came to find and a great way to kick off the morning, almost as good as the coffee we found at a café just after the pass. We then headed to Davos before tackling the stunning Fluela Pass, again we were lucky with the traffic and stopped at the top for lunch. The Café there was built in 1849 and is run by a pair of twins who were born there, one of who has a son in Sydney. Small world.
Main Road Through Village – Narrow!
Very Narrow Tunnel – Stelvio

After lunch we got back into the swing of things with the Offen Pass before turning up the Stelvio. The climb starts at about 900 metres and peaks at 2757 metres. The road is tight, lumpy in parts and has 48 hairpins on the way to the top, more of an achievement than an enjoyment it is still a must for any enthusiast. Of course it started to rain as we started the climb. Sight of the day was the Peters arriving at the summit with the roof down in the Ferrari. Then trying desperately to hurry it up before drowning.

 

The Ferrari makes an insane noise in ALL the tunnels

The descent into Bormio is a much better road, but between the rain and the Police escort we chose to be conservative and try it again in the morning.

 

Our Hotel is a great traditional alpine lodge, lots of timber and a lovely atmosphere, just the place for a big night.
 
 

 

Back to the Mountain

Thursday 21 June – Day 12
Bormio – Igls
Back to the Mountain
Lotus leads Maserati up the Stelvio
Amazing what a difference a day makes.
Mass Car Washing
This morning dawned clear and bright and we were amazed at how beautiful Bormio is nestled in a valley, ringed by snow capped mountains. After yesterdays rain we managed a mass car washing at a local service station before heading up the daunting Stelvio once more.
Buy of the day – Peter’s head-band
The south ramp is a much better road and with the weather on our side we all had a thrilling drive to the top, not the somewhat nervous slog of yesterday. The top is a circus. There are hotels, cafes, souvenir stalls and crowds. Of course we all bought the T shirts and stickers, Peter topped us all, as usual, with his head-band.
Umbrail Pass
Instead of the point and squirt of the north ramp we chose to head down the Umbrail Pass, a much better road, less traffic although some of the drops do get you attention. It was then a bit of a trundle through the Italian Tyrol, a German speaking province of Italy before climbing through apple orchards to the Jaufan Pass. Very tight and heavily wooded for most of the climb it had a much different character to the other passes we have driven. As this was our last major alpine pass we commemorated the occasion by placing a Driving Adventures sticker on the guardrail at the summit. We will check if it is still there next year. It was then a easy run into Igls and the wonderful Sport Hotel complete with buxom fraulines to serve us.
Tomorrow is a rest day, a sleep in is warranted.

 

A Day Off (at last)

Friday 22 June – Day 13
Igls – Rest Day
The Old City of Innsbruck
No driving today and everyone needed a day off. A sleep in and a few domestic duties and we caught the bus into Innsbruck for a tourist wander. The shopping was good, some were better at it than others, Roger and Janine seemed to be the champs. Lunch in one of the cafes in the beautiful old city was very relaxing , so much so that most managed a nap before afternoon drinks and an early dinner while a thunder storm hit the village.
A much needed time to relax.

 

The Tourist Trail

Neuschwanstein
Saturday 23 June – Day 14
Igls – Bad Waldsee
We hit the Tourist Trail
Neuschwanstein

Another bright sunny day, we have managed to have great weather all tour so far and up until today we have managed almost no traffic. That changed this morning when we hit the weekend tourist snarl heading over the Fern Pass into Bavaria and the  Neuschwanstein Castle, a lovely place  and beautiful setting but it made us appreciated how empty the roads and sights of the Alps have been.

A great walk up to the castle
Wonderful Back-roads

After the Castle we headed for a little bit of unrestricted Autobahn and then onto some wonderful German back-roads winding through rural Germany, little villages, rolling hills, a great drive. Our hotel is a golf resort,  set away from the rest of the world and a perfect place to relax. The Peters managed 10 holes while some of the others were content to take a cycle along the paths on the property.

A very nice day.

 

Schlumpf Collection

Sunday 24 June – Day 15
Bad Waldsee – Mulhouse
Bugatti
Another perfect day, we left in brilliant sunshine on rural back roads through a beautiful corner of Germany and headed towards Lake Constance. The scenery is so different from the Alps, rolling fertile hills, cycle paths, all very cruisey. We hit Mulhouse about Midday and went straight to the Schlumpf collection , home of an amazing array of Bugattis plus so many other wonderful cars I wouldn’t know where to start.
Worlds Classiest Car
Tomorrow we head back into the hills.  
 
 

 

Spa and Rain.

Monday 25 June – Day 16
Allen and Roger on the Podium at Spa
Mulhouse – Stavelot
It’s Raining!!
The best looking brown car on tour
Proof the rood does fold
I guess it had to happen but we have such a perfect run of weather that it was a bit of a shock to see rain and dark skies this morning. This would not be much of a problem but the intended route was through the Vosges Mountains and then a long Auto-route drive to Stavelot. The Vosges were shrouded in heavy cloud from experience I know that this is not a good place when the cloud is in as you cannot see a thing. After a very brief discussion we ditched the route through the mountains and set off up the Auto-route. With time to spare we made a detour into Bastogne, scene of the WWII Battle of the Bulge or setting for Band of Brothers if you are of the TV generation. From Bastogne a couple of us took to the back lanes all the way to Stavelot. Brilliant fun.
Watching the cars at Eau Rouge
Best part of the day was the visit to the Spa F1 circuit where we were shown the place by our guide Bart. Awesome place and a fun afternoon.

 

The Nurburgring

Lexus LF-A – Car of the day
Tuesday 26 June – Day 17
Stavelot – Nurburg
The Nurburgring.
Porsche Turbo pushing hard
A bid day today. We left Stavelot in brilliant sunshine and took the scenic route to Nurburg through the Ardenne Forest. Lots of back lanes, rolling hills and pine forest. We arrived at Nurburg and took a tour around some of the more specatacular spots on the 21km Nurburgring track. Amazing to see such a variety of cars hammering around including a number of prototypes complete with tricky paint to disguise the shape.  We think one was a new Maserati Quatraporte there was also a Jag, Audi, and what looked like a Bentley SUV. Car of the day was probably the LF-A Lexus.
Mez and her Lotus
We had dinner at the Pistenklause, an amazing restaurant full of drivers and with the walls and ceilings covered in photos, car parts and messages from many famous drivers.
A well earned beer at end of day
Great Stuff.

 

Through The Battlefields

Wednesday 27 June – Day 18
Nurburg – Ypres
Through the Battlefields
Tyne Cot War Cemetery
A slow start to the day with a very welcome sleep-in. Most of today was transporting along Autobahn so was pretty uneventful, even the unrestricted sections inside Germany were too busy for anything remarkable although I do not know how any of us will cope with 110 kph on the Hume for a while.
Ypres Town Square
Cobbled Street in Ypres
Once in Belgium we passed through the WW1 battlefields of Pashendale and Zonnebeck. We stopped at the Tyan Cot cemetery where there are 11,956 graves, 1,368 of them Australians. A very special and incredibly moving place to visit. We also went to the Mennen Gate ceremony in Ypres, where every night they hold a last post ceremony to remember the fallen. As an elderly local gent said, “You must understand we will never forget what the Australians sacrificed here.”
Dinner was at a delightful restaurant in the town square. Great Mussels and a beautiful setting.
Tomorrow is our last day on the road. How quickly the tour has gone.

 

Goodwood

Thursday 28 June – Day 19
Ypres – Chichester
Goodwood!!
Mez and Lewis
Very Rare Alpine A110
Real GT40
A reasonably early start on nice easy roads to Calais and the train station. It is quiet an operation, trains every 30 mins, you never leave your car, punch in the codes, drive through customs and immigration, onto the double deck train and 30 mins later you are in England. A bit of a cultural shock on the roads after the great driving you experience in Europe, all of sudden you are dealing with the rude and ignorant all the time. The Furka seems a long way away.
We booked into the hotel and headed straight to Goodwood. An amazing place, very laid back particularly on Thursday, lots of very special cars and famous faces happy to stop for a chat. Mez got on very well with Lewis Hamilton which made her day.
How Sweet is this
Dinner was 15 mins up the road in Midhurst, great restaurant but a late night, going to be hard to get up in the morning to get to Goodwood before the crowd.

 

The Festival of Speed.

Friday – Sunday
29 June – 1 July
Days, 20, 21 & 22
The Festival of Speed
1962 Ferrari 250 GTO
The 3 days of the Festival of Speed have been a blur, so much has happened at Goodwood that no-one can possibly see it all. There is a huge variety of cars and events happening all the time and the public have access to almost every car and the people are all very approachable and happy to talk. Just a great event and a must for anyone in the least bit interested in motor-sport. We spent a long time talking to an Aussie who is the proud owner of an ex-factory Porsche 956 and then to an Irishman who now owns the ex Ari Vattennan Pikes Peak 405, the one featured in Climb Dance. The whole event is just a wonderful, relaxed celebration.
The easiest way to explain it is to post a few snap shots.
’58 Cooper F1
Benz 300SLR
Red Arrows
Lotus Centre Piece
F40
Senna’s Lotus
Prost Renault

Posted in: Reports

Leave a Comment (0) ↓

Leave a Comment