|We headed north from Florence (new Ikea duvet tucked away in the back; we'd seen the weather forecast oh yes). We drove up through the Futa Pass, which is about half way between Florence and Bologna, and stayed the night at a site in the pass which was pretty good apart from the lack of hot water in the showers. Unbelievable at this time of year, and it was a shame as the toilets, showers, dishwashing, laundry etc were absolutely lovely. It's amazing the difference in the quality of the facilities between sites. It's also amazing how you can become accustomed to doing things, shall we say, a little differently. [Warning - too much information for some people is about to be shared]. As we've been in the lands of no toilet seats for quite a while, my view is that if you're going to squat then you might as well squat in a toilet that's designed for it, rather than giving yourself aching thighs. So, I've been doing what needs doing in those lovely old continental style whatnots. Was just managing to get the hang of it (yes I know it sounds simple but it's fraught with danger), when I arrived at a site which posed a unique problem. The toilets had lights which worked on a motion sensor, which is fine, not unusual, but what was unusual was that the light went off after about three seconds. So there I was, trying to make sure my aim was true, and about every couple of seconds having to wave my arm about in the air to make the light come back on. Fun and games.
Enough? Right. I believe we were on our way to Bologna, through the Futa Pass. Beautiful up there, where those blessed rolling Tuscan hills give way to the more robust mountains of the Emilia Romagna region. Again, the autumnal colours were absolutely stunning, and although we took a B road up through the pass, it pretty much runs parallel to the motorway, which has got to be one of the most stunning motorway journeys anywhere I've seen.
Our plan for the day was all about cars. Those of you with a passion for the things perhaps know that the region around Bologna and Modena is pretty special because it's the home of both Ferrari and Lamborghini, and Nick was really keen to visit the museums that both companies have at their respective factories.
Of course it should be Nick writing this blog as I don’t know much about it all, but as you know he hates writing on here, so you’ll just have to put up with me.
First, was Lamborghini, in the sleepy farming town of Sant'Agata Bolognese. I never could understand how these supercars were bred from tractors but having seen this very agricultural area, it’s much easier to appreciate. We arrived at the factory / head office (car park full of Audis, only 2 Lamborghinis) and a very nice gentleman told us where the museum was and let us park in the car park instead of on the road (although he did ask us to park behind a van in the far corner which seemed a bit cheeky). In the museum we were greeted by a very sophisticated lady, with excellent English, who welcomed us warmly. The museum was small and classy, well designed, and with only a small number of cars. There were only a few people there, which made it pretty special, and most of them were, to be honest, geeky looking guys with large cameras. Are you listening Nick?
My favourites were the ones from the sixties, which I think looked much classier, but Nick got most excited about something called Reventon, which was named after a famous bull which gored a Toreador to death. My favourite fact of the day was finding out how the Countach got its name. It’s an exclamation of astonishment, local to the Piemonte region, and was what one of the men who worked on the project said when he first saw the designs.
I also liked the police car, which the company donated to the local police force, and which was in use on the A1 for a while, being used largely for medical emergencies and for transporting donated organs. That would be the Italian A1, not the English one. Can you imagine seeing that tanking up the road past Wetherby?
So, from the classy minimalism of Lamborghini to the glossy, flamboyant, in-your-face red-fest that is the Galleria Ferrari, in Maranello, just south of Modena. It’s very slick, with lots of different ways of parting you from your cash, but you’ve got to hand it to them, they know how to put on a show. Most of the centre is given over to the F1 stuff, with lots of the old racing cars, some new ones, a recreation of the pit, and lots of memorabilia. I preferred the gallery with all the old cars, although I was very disappointed that the Ferris Bueller California wasn’t there. No, my knowledge does not extend very far at all. They also had a recreation of Enzo Ferrari’s office in Modena from the forties, and lots of information about him and how he started the company which I found pretty interesting. You probably all know this already, but they are working on a Ferrari world type theme park in Dubai, and they had an exhibition on that, which looked absolutely awful.
After our super day of supercars, we headed south from Modena to the mountains of Reggio Emilia, still the Apennine chain that we first saw way down south, where we have stopped at a fantastic campsite in Cervarezza Terme for a couple of days, mostly to wait out the snow. The site is at 1000 metres, and it’s been snowing since we arrived. It’s gorgeous around here though, and I think once it stops tomorrow we should be able to get out and about. The site has a heated indoor swimming pool which we’ve had to ourselves as there’s nobody else here, which has been excellent. Also, the lovely owner brought us our fresh bread rolls direct to our door this morning, in his snow-plough. Where else would you get service like that? The van has been incredible. I didn’t really appreciate until now what the term “winterised” really means. Yes, we’ve got our lovely new down duvet, but we’re still sleeping in the roof, courtesy of the fabulous roof-cap, and we’ve only had the heater on level 1 all this time. Toasty and warm. Lovely.
So, we’re cooried in for a couple of days. Can’t quite believe that this time last week we were in 25 degree heat in Greece, and now we’re lucky to hit zero. At least we can appreciate what the UK is going through.
Bye for now, and stay warm!