Carovana Romantica 2013 touched Tuscany and Umbria in an unforgettable rally through some of the most famous Italian places in the world. The rolling green hills with vineyards and olive groves of the chianti area and the Val d’Orcia, and the Medieval Towns was the perfect backdrop of the rally.
Old and new friends coming from England, Germany, Switzerland, Denmark and Belgium, met on the afternoon of Saturday, June 8, with their Bentley, Jaguar, Rolls Royce, Invicta, Lagonda, Hotchkiss, a few kilometers away from Siena, where the Tuscan countryside preserves its charm, guests at the Relais Borgo Scopeto, an ancient and very extensive estate, now unique place to stay, for a welcome drink.
“Found again” in the true sense of the word, because since the early afternoon the Carovana Team has been engaged in a series of "recoveries" of the crews, already lost along country roads in the web of little streets that surrounds the estate, only one of which, however, like a "treasure hunt" leads to the Relais. Price to pay for exclusivity!
On Sunday 9 an unceasing “autumn-like”drizzle welcomes us in the early morning in an almost ghostly Siena, where the cars stops a few steps from Piazza del Campo under the "big turtle" after a short crossing of the historic center obtained thanks to the availability of the government commissioner in place of the Mayor.
First, exclusive visit to the museum of the District of the Torre, who welcomes us in their "territory" making us taste the atmosphere of the upcoming “Palio”. Lunch at the 'original' champagnerie 'Cava de' Noveschi guests of the histrionic "Pippochef" to continue, now already "shine", to visit the nearby Cathedral of Siena.
Dispose of the “bubbles”, the participants of the Carovana move for an afternoon tour of the Chianti region, one of the most celebrated areas of Tuscany (and Italy). After the crossing of Gaiole, the rain becomes more and more insistent, so that, despite the radar, most of the crew continues to Radda in Chianti "forgetting" the stop at the Coltibuono Abbey, where a handful of "diligent" Germans, "guilty" of having complied with the program, find themselfs having a bellyful of buffet.
Finally we all meet in Radda in Chianti where, at the entrance of City Hall a groupof beautifull damsels in period costume welcome us ad illustrate, as a kind of song, the beauty of their city. We thank the Mayor of the homage of collectible bottles of valuable “Chianti” wine, to reach the Relais in breaf.
On the next Monday the day is announced auspiciously: a warm sun of late spring invites us to embark on the long stage that will lead us to the Trasimeno Lake and, from there, to Bettona, the ancient village of Etruscan memory perched on a "hill "a few kilometers from Assisi.
We reach Montalcino, for a stage in the historical center, followed by a visit and wine tasting at Cantina di Montalcino, an interesting production company which benefits of a modern and impressive venue, shaped like a half barrel. Listened carefully "almost all" the secrets of the iconic "Brunello" production, we decided to verify by ourselves the organoleptic qualities of the “Brunello di Montalcino” reserve of the house. Crews all agree. A wonderful tavolata in the midst of ancient, giant oak barrels, facilitate the task.
We leave the cellar directed to Montepulciano: the warm sun has already given way to a cumulonimbus cloud that promises autumn weather. Just a few kilometers away and the rain storm invests crews on board of cabriolet cars, who reach Montepulciano with almost zero visibility.
Among the intricate alleys accessing the monumental Piazza Grande, a police patrol car with flashing lights and sirens attempts to address the group, who diligently (perhaps because already accustomed to the Northern European climate) gather in the square.
The venue of the historic cellars Cantine Talosa, made available by the Consorzio del Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, is transformed into makeshift dressing room, to allow for a rapid turnover of the ladies changing clothes.
The drivers did not bat an eye, they’re just a little '"upset" for the climate: We are in Italy in early June! The rain gives no respite: every man for himself! The Carovana is dissolved and crews try to reach the final goal of Bettona, who welcomes them in his impressive central square. Most of the village is occupied by our Relais. The dinner menu proposes, also, autumn flavors. Overnight.
The cozy Perugia hosts us the next morning in Piazza IV Novembre. The long line of cars that crosses the historic center and stops on display at the foot of the mountain is an impressive sight. We find out a little later,thet the sight is shooted by a network of webcams present in all the most beautiful squares in Italy. On social networks the invitation breaks: "look at the Carovana Romantica live streaming."
A greeting to the young and curious Mayor and we leave again for lunch: "show cooking" and a visit to another "icon" of the territory: the celars of Cantine Lungarotti, welcoming us with their young and competent team, in the climate of the Carovana: with style and friendship. The sun is shining.
A few kilometers ahead, in the afternoon, the programme provides a visit to Deruta, historical site of production of artistic ceramics once a must-stop along the axis Rome-Peugia, now also forced to "deal" with the crisis. We learn, with great surprise, that some of the most important orders of ceramics comes from the hotels on the Amalfi Coast, however, which is also home of a centuries-old tradition!
We return in the near Bettona, tired but happy. On the magnificent terrace overlooking Asssi, a tasting of excellence is whaiting for us: wine, olive oil and preserved produced by small but already award-winning local producers are a delight. Dinner on the lovely terrace is suddenly interrupted by a group of figures in medieval costume, which breaks accompanied by stilt walkers, jugglers and minstrels: this was the prelude to the special evening organized by the friends of pro-loco of Bettona.
Late in the evening, in a hidden court yard, we find within the medieval walls, organized just for us, a costume representation of arts and crafts: wool carding, spinning, pottery, crochet and many other ancient crafts, witnessed by the citizens of Bettona, all in costume, for a real "medieval festival" in our honor. Singing and dancing late into the night. Exchange of pennants and t-shirts. Toast. Thanks Bettona.
On the following morning, stage to Assisi: with hundreds of events a year, and hundreds of thousands of pilgrims from all over the world, the local administration does not move: the authorization to parking in Piazza del Comune comes only a few days before, with fibrillation of the organizing team.
Assisi is beautiful against the backdrop of green fields in the sunlight of spring which has now finally revealed. After the visit, disheartened by the municipal police, we reach the Bosco di San Francesco, a corner of paradise which goes back 1000 years among the oaks and olive trees where San Francesco, the patron saint of Italy, used to walk and where the FAI (Italian Enironment Found) has recovered a small church stone and the old mill on the edge of a stream.
We move to Gubbio. Along the way we learn that in the days before the city council has fallen, now the corrispondent of the organizers, once again, is a government commissioner. The frantic series of phone calls to get the ok for the arrival on the terrace on the roof of the Piazza Grande ends with a stalemate. The cars gather to stop at the foot of the hill, in Piazza del Mercato.
But the availability and enthusiasm of the flag-wavers surprises us with a wonderful show for us all. The participants gathered on the steps of the Palazzo dei Consoli and assist, after the wonderful " flag-show ", to a goliardic invasion: the usual “diligent” Germans, heedless of the new provisions and following the radar, arrived with their cars in Piazza: starts, then, a goliardic "pitch invasion" with a lap of honor of the some cars carrying a group of flag-wavers in a triumph of colors. Is a “big party” on the Piazza Grande!
A free half day, guests of the exclusive water park Hotel Cappuccini, a former convent, today a great charming relais, to continue to explore the Estate of Montecorona. In nearby Umbertide, almost hidden by a level crossing of the railway line, lies one of the most important agricultural Production sites of Umbria, which boasts one of 4 romanesque basilicas of the territory.
We are all amazed by the beauty of the "genius loci". We are welcomed by the responsible for production, usually engaged "in the field", but for one day transformed into competent and gentle guides. The friend Jeff, who arrived from England with his 1929 Invicta Tourer, taken from the mystical atmosphere, redeems himself: wearing a white nun's habit he decides to "leave" all his possessions, including the Invicta, to his wife and other participants. Since then, no further news of him: we hope he lives in peace and prayer.
We continue to Sansepolcro. The birthplace of Piero della Francesca never ceases to fascinate with the beauty of its treasures: we are welcomed by the musicians association archers that frame the car lined up in Piazza Torre di Berta.
Early wake-up for the start of the final stage on Friday from Gubbio to Cortona through the Pass of Cerventosa. Magnificent reception in Piazza della Repubblica, where after the visit to the Etruscan Museum, the cars parade between two rows of people in costume who perform in music and spectacle of flag waving: the nearby Gubbio is advised, the choreography of Cortona are really new and exciting.
Made booty of a precious magnum of Syrha, we reach, at the foot of Cortona, the magnificent estate of our "sponsor" Tenimenti d’Alessandro. Along the way we meet some historic cars of great prestige: these include a Packard, also winner of the Concourse d’elegance of Pebble Beach. A brief "informative" and we learn that the car is part of the near base garage of Mr. Nicola B. Without hesitation, all invited to Tenimenti, hence the Team Caravan forward the invitation: "sor" Nicola B. is expected in 2014 edition!
To the historic architectural complex of Villa Magi-Diligent, the tireless patron of Tenimenti, has recently joined the Borgo Syra, a complex of exclusive properties, whose name is inspired by the excellence of the wine production of the vine, where the traditional Tuscan style blends with contemporary elements and testimonies of contemporary art.
The afternoon passes between tasting the delicacies and the visit of the gardens, cellars, vinsantiere, underground tunnels, which make up the magnificent estate. A present to our friends in memory of the day: adding a "new" dictator to the art collection of the owner, with the motto "pinocracy."
Gala dinner with Dixie / Jazz Band coming from Rome at the Relais Borgo Scopeto. We dedicate a moment of silence, on the initiative of our German friends, to the memory of our friend Gianalberto D’Ammassa and then, a little 'touched, we give the farewell to the 2014 edition.
9:00 Departure to Siena, Parking in Piazza Mercato, under the "Tartarugone" visit.
13:00 Lunch in Siena: Cava dè Noveschi - Champagnerie
15:00 Departure to Gaiole in Chianti
15:45 Badia a Coltibuono: Visit
17:00 Radda in Chianti. Visit. Castelina in Chianti
19:30 Arrival in hotel
20:30 Dinner show: G. Galvani Jazz Quartet
9:30 Departure to Montalcino crossin Arbia, Buonconvento.
11:00 Arrival in Montalcino. Parking and Welcome
13:00 Visit, wine tasting and excursion in the vineyard of Cantina di Montalcino. Wine Tasting.
15:00 Departure to San Quirico d'Orcia. Montepulciano
16:20 Arrival in Montepulciano: Visit to Cantine Talosa
17:40/19:30 Montepulciano - Castiglione del Lago - Spina- Olmeto- Torgiano - Bettona
19:30 Arrival in Bettona. Wellcome and parking in the historical center
20:30 Dinner in Hotel
9:30 Departure to Perugia. Cars exposure in Piazza IV Novembre. Visit.
14:00 Cantine Giorgo Lungatorri. Wine Tasting.
16:00 Deruta - Guided visit to the Ceramics museum.
18:00 Bettona - Welcome on terrace of Piazza Nuova
20:00 Dinner in Hotel
21:00 Medieval show