Zagato Design and Beyond

Zagato_logoFrom Turin we headed to Milan. Our first stop was at Zagato design. Hidden away in the outskirts of Milan we toured their car collection showing some cutting edge design for top brands. One of their latest models with its wrap around panoramic windows received mixed opinion from the group. Jonathan had warned us on the bus about their designs – you either love it or you don’t.

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We paused for another hearty lunch in the center of Monza. I was very happy with my enormous plate of cured Italian meats. I can’t get enough of it when I’m in Italy (along with gelato!) In the afternoon, Francesca, a motorbike racing journalist gave us a tour of Monza race track, including the hospitality suites, the media rooms, tv monitor room, the office of notorious Bernie Ecclestone and we all got to stand on the podium. Pretty exciting stuff even without the roar of the Formula one cars in action. In the parking lot we spotted a few more Lamborghinis and then a fleet of historic cars drove by.

22Our final visit of the day was a private car collection on the outskirts of Milan. The owner had told us not to expect much – a few cars in a garage and I’d asked him to have some water ready for our thirsty group. When we arrived we were blown away by the collection and the owner had laid on a party. He’d invited some key people in the car world and a beautiful reception with (more) food and prosecco. Yet again j had to be mother and drag them away from their fun!

Two hours later we arrived at Lake Garda. The sun was setting over Sirmione, our final destination, it was beautiful. Our bus could not enter the historic city but a short walk provided yet another car viewing opportunity – several cars in the Mille miglia were doing manoeuvres in front of us!

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Now we are on the bus returning to Sirmione after a visit to the Lamborghini factory this morning. Due to the 50th anniversary celebrations last week we’d not been able to visit.

Tomorrow is our final day and dedicated to the Mille miglia. Lots of fun things are planned, I just hope the weather holds.

Smithsonian Journey’s Italian Auto tour just gets better and is filled with some magical ‘ah’ moments.

ModenaSaturday we were still in Modena and visited several private car collections. In the late afternoon we drove past the Lamborghini factory – it was swarming with people for the 50th anniversary celebrations – our group understood why were not visiting till later this week. That evening we toured the Lamborghini Family museum and the owner and nephew to the founder, Fabio Lamborghini came and signed souvenirs for the group and had his photo taken with various members. His part of the show concluded with him roaring off in his own Lambo (that’s the lingo!)

1From Modena we headed across northern Italy to Turin. It was a gorgeously clear day and a lovely drive with the snowcapped alps welcoming us into Piedmont. We even had two Lambos lined up at our brief restroom stop. Perfect planning! Our first stop in Turin was at the Lingotto. After lunching on delicious Italian treats in the Eataly Food Emporium we went onto the top of the Lingotto building (originally the FIAT factory) and stood on the roof top test track. Spectacular weather and clear views across the city to the mountains. We had a very thorough tour of the car collection at the Museo Nazionale dell’Automobile. And our final visit was at the FIAT Centro Storico – the original FIAT headquarters, with a lovely art deco facade and inside a great collection of old cars including some of the iconic 500 and wonderful photos and posters.

BertoneAnd as if we hadn’t had enough cars today – the Spanish Grand Prix took place today. We had a private room set up to show the replay at 9 pm. Not quite all of our group made it to the end, but many did.

Designer Tom TjaardaMonday morning – design day. Another beautiful sunny day as we drove north out of Turin. Stile Bertone has been designing cars for all the luxury brands for just over 100 years and that is where we were headed today. We were greeted by the head of design. He gave a wonderful tour of the Bertone museum full of passion about what makes a great piece of design. Then out in the garden there were two prototypes that the group all drooled over as he opened it up and showed all the different features. It was hard to drag the group away from this fantastic tour but it was also in the most idyllic setting – parkland, surrounded by trees, very tranquil on a sunny day. From this very small friendly designer we visited Pininfarina – a very slick large design corporation. After a fascinating presentation we viewed a couple of prototype Ferraris. I confess I can’t keep up with the different models and features – needless to say my group might be forgetful about a logistical tour detail but they know which car they saw and where! We returned to Turin in the afternoon and visited with a charming American designer, who has lived in Turin most of his life. He has designed for many of the great names and gave us a very personal talk about his design experience.