Once or twice a year, I get together with a small group of friends to drive some of the best roads in Europe. A few years ago we decided it was time to revisit Italy. Given the destination, it seemed only appropriate to take the Ferrari F40 on the trip. This would be the F40s first trip back to Italy since a very memorable trip in 2007. The 2007 trip was a wonderful experience with terrific receptions everywhere we went, including from the local police who on several occasions provided extra encouragement to shorten our journey times. Driving an F40 in Italy back in 2007 was probably the closest I will ever get to being a celebrity Ferrari Event
That year’s trip took place over 7 days and started on a small dark wet road in Surrey. Over the 7 days, I covered a total of 2,200 miles, crossed 8 countries, used 0 liters of motor oil, stopped for petrol 8 times, and killed an uncountable number of bugs. The F40 drove through heavy downpours, fog, sat in a few traffic jams, crossed the Alps twice (with the help of a few tunnels), survived a couple of roads that resembled lunar surfaces, and even enjoyed a few days of Tuscan sun. Despite all the challenges, never once did the F40 put a single foot wrong. The car really ran terrifically and was a joy to drive.
While we had several highly memorable drives that week, including one up the Alps to the St Bernard tunnel where we were greeted with flurries as we neared the tunnel entrance at 1900 meters, the best was the day spent crossing the spine of Italy from Florence to San Marino on the SS67. This is a truly breath-taking road and consists of 70 miles of winding tarmac across the top of the Apennine Mountains. In the F40, the entire road is driven in 2ndand 3rdgear with as little use of the brakes as possible. Getting into the flow of the road is critical and it becomes a dance of downshift, turn in, back on the throttle, upshift, back off the throttle, downshift again, turn in……and repeat for several hours. While you might not think the F40 would be the best car for this sort of driving, the steering is outstanding and it is very easy to place precisely on the road. The car also delivers a constant stream of unfiltered feedback so you know exactly what is going on around you.
We were very lucky that day as there was almost no traffic on the pass, and the few cars we ran into, we were able to get around in short order. The only exception was an Alfa that we closed up on, and ended up behind, at a red light in a construction area. With the light still red, the Alfa went shooting through the zone and disappeared up the mountain. About 5 minutes later, we came around a corner and found the Alfa parked off on the side of the road with the driver standing on a large rock waiting for us with both a video and still camera in hand. Clearly we had one fan.
On the subject of fans, one thing that stood out was the reception that the F40 received on this trip vs. 2007. This time around it was much more subdued and while we had a few police officers smile at us, we did not get the waves, or the encouragement to proceed more rapidly, as we had in the past. The last decade has not been kind to the Italian economy and it does show in a number of different ways.
Driving in a small convoy of Ferraris across Italy is always a special event and doing it in a Ferrari F40 made it just that much more special. The car never failed to impress or handle any of the multiple different challenges thrown at it.
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