And now, Italy

lupogti4_2_4920aabe6c93e-lightboxI’ve never been to Italy and I was most excited. From Marseille we took the very busy A8 that services the whole Southern region and noticed that when you cross the French/Italian border and the Autoroute A8 becomes the Autostrada A10 the road surface goes from excellent to more like Britain.

I would not go as far to say the ride quality of the Lupo GTI is as poor as a MINI with run-flat tyres, but it is never at its best on badly surfaced motorways. Oddly, on rough and ready B-Roads I can’t say I’ve ever noticed it having a poor ride, but on the Italian motorways I was acutely aware of its shortcomings.

Thankfully, I’d planned ahead and had already researched a back road route that enabled us to get off the major routes and looked as twisty as possible. Despite getting lost in Genoa when the signs disappeared we made it as far as La Spezia and headed inland along the SS63. What a road! It was even better than recent drives in France and was just like the roads I’ve been seeing as the backdrops for EVO magazines features for years. Route Napoleon was impressive, but this was heaven. It took a very long time to rendezvous with the A1 to complete the journey into Modena, and far longer than heading a less direct route via the Autostrada, but as the pictures show, it was well worth it.

Once into Modena we found our hotel swiftly enough and I was struck by how good Italian driving was. So struck in fact I had a lapse of concentration while parking and manage to kerb one of my front alloys in a very spectacular fashion, taking a nice large chunk of German alloy out of the rim with some lovely Italian kerb stone.

That aside, the next few days proved to be totally unforgettable. To say my friend’s wedding was amazing is to sell it short, and the Lupo played its part all weekend running errands and eventually was ‘modified’ by my other half for the wedding convoy, (See picture). A particularly amusing memory was a late night blast down to Bologna airport to pick up some late arrivals the night before the big day. Without a European disc for the Lupo’s Sat nav (more on that in a future Journal) my friend and I went on instincts alone, thinking an airport would be as easy to find as it is in the UK or France. How wrong we were! So wrong that we took an 80 mile detour before eventually getting it right.

This particular stretch of Autostrada on this particular late Friday night was deserted apart from the odd suicidal Polish lorry and we made quick progress. The terrible road surface haunted me again giving us a bit of a bumpy ride and our passengers with all their bags were a little squashed. The Lupo has always had enough room for myself and one other but 4 people and luggage is never really going to work for long periods of time. For the first time in my life I felt that a bigger car might come in handy.

Other highlights of the trip included a visit to the Lamborghini museum which was an art gallery of classics and some not-so-classics, with the brand new Miura concept taking centre stage. We also happened to be visiting on the same day as the Lamborghini owners club of Germany, and were treated to an amazing car park full of cars, including the first Miura I’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing on the road.

A tour of the Pagani factory was another treat: located on an obscure industrial estate South East of Modena it was easy to miss, but the techniques and passion employed there made it worth seeking out and fascinating to see. The Zonda is a personal supercar favourite, and to see them in various stages of construction was a privilege that I will never forget.

Maranello and the Ferrari Museum was a must of course, and we got to see plenty of cars out on test, including a brand new 599 GTB Fiorano. We’d have liked to have spent more time there, but we simply ran out of weekend, and we also had to cut out a visit to the Maserati Museum. Never mind it’s a perfect excuse, coupled with the fact that our friend has now settled there, meaning we will be going back.

So, congratulations and a big thank you to my newly-wed friends Huw and Guilia Price, but also thank you to my Lupo, for without it I would have required a trip on ChavAir, a sweaty train ride or three and at least two people would have missed the ceremony and mountains of food and drink. My little GTI will never be as fast as an F430, as mad as a Murcielago, as beautiful as a Miura or as practical as a Quattroporte, but while I continue to have Fun and adventures in it, I won’t be getting itchy feet.




Andrew Woodall