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Maremma, May 25 -30, 2010

In the last week of May we had once again the opportunity to visit one of the perfectly organized events by the agency 2fast4you. Just a few months after the Alfa Romeo 8C meeting at the same place this year's Alfa Romeo centenary made a good reason to get together again at Castiglione della Pescaia. Initially the meeting was intended as a gathering of up to 100 cars in the same way as the International Bugatti meeting a year ago but several reasons led to the decision to make it a more exclusive event. One of this reasons might have been the official centenary meeting in June organized by a “rival agency” for Alfa Romeo that prevented the factory to support this event with its clubs.
So a small but selected group of just 10 cars found their way on Tuesday to the hotel l´Andana. Being one of the “small leading hotels of the world” it is an ideal base for the 4 following days for a group of this size and the unpaved driveway still is an unmatched symbol for the area.
Among the cars were two 8C 2300 with body by Touring and Zagato, three different 6C 1750, a 1900 Super, a Duetto and a brand new 8C Spider. As one car (a Type 412) was not ready in time for the meeting the owner joined with his Bugatti T51.

The first day was called “The Etruscan coast” and led 230 km on a loop to the north. First stop in the morning was the picturesque Pieve di Caminino, an old small town that was restored about 30 years ago after been abandoned some years before and today serves as a historic resort. This might have been the best spot of all the days especially for the pre-war cars as they naturally matched the surrounding. After a visit to the lovely detailed houses the participants had the opportunity to taste local wines and specialities on the terrace overseeing the olive groves of the region.
The next stop was the winery of Rocca di Montemassi where a lunch buffet was served in between the wine barrels. This was the only point were some of the participants missed the road during this week as the sign for the entrance was easily overseen when enjoying the landscape during the drive. But otherwise the system without road book, where every crossroad was marked by the forerunners worked perfectly and was very much to the taste of the co-drivers as they could enjoy the drive as well instead of permanently studying a road book.
The day was concluded with the Chopard dinner at the winter garden of the hotel. Chopard was once again one of the sponsors of the rally and beside the jewels for the women especially the watches of the Mille Miglia collection were talk of the evening.

The second day “The Ombrone Valley” led to the back country with a visit to the Abbey of San Galgano before the lunch stop at Castiglion del Bosco. Already known from the last rallies this private membership estate is still very impressive with over 4500 acres. The main house with its terrace and the associated pool can only described as spectacular with a view over the entire area. Reached by an unpaved road passing the golf course under construction none of the visitors had another impression than that this is the ideal place to enjoy Tuscany. The cars were parked in the middle of the estate giving many different spots to take pictures.
After the buffet lunch with typical Italian specialities the way back to the hotel led once more through several vineyards.
In the evening the group was transferred by coach to a typical local Trattoria. With an open kitchen one could watch the cook while preparing the pasta. After many starters and several glasses of wine one was already sated even before the main course was served. After the essential espressos to finish the evening there was not that much time to die away the evening as the next day started very early.

The third day was dedicated to the isle Elba. The day started early at 7.30 am as the ferry for Elba had to be reached in time. After a passage of about an hour we reached Elba that was in the mist and many of the first time visitors were surprised by the size of the island. Being famous for the banishment of Napoleon some did expect a much smaller island but it is a good tour around the mountain roads of the island. Fortunately the weather cleared up during the day so most of the tour could be enjoyed in sunshine. After the lunch break at Marciana Marina where the birthday of one of the crew was celebrated the tour led to the harbour of Portoferraio where the cars were lined up at the pier. The cars were instantly surrounded by surprised tourists and the typical questions had to be answered. A few took the way up to Napoleons house but most participants enjoyed the ice cream served at many of the nearby gelaterias.
My personal highlight of the rally was the way back from the ferry to the hotel when I was invited to take a free passenger seat in a 8C 2300. This car (2111018) is considered to be the 1932 Le Mans winner in the hands of Chinetti and Sommer. Later it was rebodied with a very beautiful Bandone body before ending up for many years under the banking of the Montlhery Circuit. Today the car wears a standard Zagato body without the modifications that were made for Le Mans 1932 and the owner told me that he is trying to buy the Bandone body that is still in existence to reunite it with the chassis.
Unfortunately the car had some problems with its spark plugs this day so the car was not running properly. Still running 140 km/h easily the faces of the local Italians in their new Fiats being passed by a 80 year old car with permanent backfires were priceless. Even this day one could see the potential of this car compared to some rivals of this era, having plenty of power and lying stable on the road, even on the bumpy driveway of the hotel.
Fortunately the problems were solved quickly in the evening so the car was running perfectly again the next day.

The last day of the rally saw a special guest with a 6C 1750 joining for this day. This very original car is an ex Scuderia Ferrari car that was bought just five years ago from the Chinetti family as reported be the current (second!!!) owner. Never restored the car had a perfect patina, the paint touched up with a brush over the years giving it a very interesting three-dimensional surface. The car had one of its very rare outing that day giving the rally another highlight on its last day.
This day led to the town of Massa Marittima in the morning where the cars were lined up once more in front of the cathedral. This was the spot to do the group photograph for the participants to remember. After a visit to the town the journey led to the last lunch stop at the Col d´Orcia. The winery of the Cinzano family was already on the program during the last rallies but is still worth a visit every time.

Conclusion: It was the third time that this marvellous area was the location of a rally by 2fast4you. Even at the third time this is still something special to everyone visiting or taking part. Although this time there were just a few cars compared to the Bugatti-rally and the list of cars was not that impressive as with the 8C meeting in October last year, there were still some great cars and a very homogeneous small group. As usual there was not one negative comment heard during these days so it is not a surprise that 2fast4you was selected to organize next year's international Bugatti meeting again, this time in Spain.
The next meeting for Alfa Romeo will be the large gathering in Mailand at the end of June to celebrate the official centenary but this will be a totally different event.

Text & Images: Peter Singhof