We spent the morning at the Mille Miglia museum in Brescia, learning about the history of the race and seeing the various historic models that have competed. Then we drove across town and our Italo-Aussie bus driver dropped us on the edge of the historic city and I led the group (praying I would not get lost as it has been a long time since I was in Brescia and I had no map) to the center. All the roads were beginning to close in preparation for the Mille Miglia. We came to the main street where all the cars were lining up and driving past the crowds of fans. There was a sea of people. It was chaos. I left the group together in one area taking photos and identifying the cars while I scouted out the quickest route to our restaurant. It turned out to be across the street but in the chaos not all my ducklings followed. It was some 10 minutes before I realised that one was missing as I was just about to take my first sip of wine. A manic half hour ensued but thankfully the missing duckling was still where we had left him and enjoying the spectacle of the 400 some historic cars going through the streets of Brescia. Thank goodness.
We enjoyed a lovely lunch in the center of Brescia with one of the teams competing in the event. There were several drivers at the lunch too (the give away being that they were all kitted out in serious rainwear). We returned to Sirmione in the afternoon to shop. pack and above all to dry out. At 7:15 I led our group across to the aperitivo tent in the main square and we waited for the cars to start coming through Sirmione. Young and old were waving mille miglia flags with much excitement while we sipped prosecco and enjoyed some delicious nibbles. Italians know how to lay on a good reception, even in the pouring rain there was someone slicing prosciutto and lardo. Yummy. Even better, the rain had abated and there was a sunset. Too good to be true. The cars had set off from Brescia at 7 pm and around 7:40 pm the roar of the old engines filled the air. There was a constant stream of old cars (anything that competed in the historic event up to 1957 is allowed to enter). There were over 400 entrants. As the light faded we slipped into our covered tent and enjoyed a sumptous meal, with front row sets to watch all the cars go by. There was a very jolly atmosphere among all our group as they tried to identify all the cars go by (I had the list of entrants and kept checking their knowledge!). The few females in the group were longing for number 271 and then around the corner, Brian shouts “that’s a Jag” and we all screamed “Daniel!” as Daniel Day Lewis cruised by. Several men in the group laughed at us 5 ladies in the group and asked questions such as ‘oh was he driving a Lincoln? Or was he driving with his left foot?!’. Memorable evening and a fantastic way to end a truly amazing trip.