International Greek-Italian Meeting
The 1st International Greek-Italian Meeting
The 1st International Greek-Italian Meeting is a 10 days tour that started from Athens at the end of April on board of 1 XK and 6 E-Types to reach Tuscany and Umbria and finish with a Rally around Perugia.
Before embarking on the ferry to Ancona, our seven enthusiastic crews toasted with Greek chilly white wine our 1st International adventure on the crystal blue shore of Monodendri south of Patras on the Ionian Sea.
Above: Goodbye Greece
Once inside the ferry, while the gentlemen were relaxing at the bar with Italian liqueurs, the ladies gathered together to learn how an Italian Rally Roadbook works and later be able to help their drivers to find the right way to the
Above: Roadbook Seminar
After our relaxing one-evening-cruise we arrived at the port of Ancona and drove south west to reach “Alla Posta dei Donini” the prestigious 16th century residence of Counts Donini in the heart of Umbria,
where we had a sumptuous truffle pasta and Montefalco wine dinner at Restaurant Pantagruel.
Above: Donini Jaguar view
Above: (left) Donini & ladies, (right) Donini ceilings
The morning after we stopped on the shore of the round volcanic Trasimeno Lake at Hotel Lido Restaurant, the best place in Passignano to enjoy sun and a good espresso.
Pointing our bonnets to the North we reached the beautiful medieval town of Arezzo. As our Club knows very well, the most difficult thing in organizing trips for classic cars is where to park them. In fact we booked months before parking
places in private garages both in Arezzo and in Siena in order not to leave our cats vulnerable in an outdoor area.
Arezzo was founded during the Etruscan era around the 5th century B.C. and had its most flourishing period during the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Arezzo was also the birth city of Michelangelo, the world famous painter of the Cappella Sistina frescoes. We visited the impressive Duomo, the Leonardo da Vinci Museum, the medieval towers and churches in the central square Piazza Grande where we had lunch at La Lancia d’Oro Restaurant under the Vasari Loggia.
Above: Lancia d'Oro
Above: Arezzo Piazza Grande
Above: Arezzo Piazza Grande
Above: XK Arezzo & Arezzo Tower
Above: Arezzo Duomo
In the afternoon we drove to Radda in Chianti, the capital of the most famous wine region of Tuscany.
Above: Radda in Chianti
Our “headquarter” was Relais Vignale . The first historical records of this manor house date back to the 1700’s. Among the documents of Grand Duke Peter Leopold of Lorraine there is a mention that, Falconi, the owner of that time: “…trade and send Chianti wine to England…” …well driving British cars and drinking Chianti now, we are trying to continue that tradition in some way!
Above: Relais Vignale
Once we arrived at their super safe parking our dear Swiss friend Kurt discovered that his XK140 OTS boot lit was blocked with his two hard trolleys inside!
Above: Stuck boot lid & boot lid released
We always suggest using soft and deformable luggage with zip in order, in case of emergency, they could be “squeezed and emptied” through the hinged panel between the interior and the boot.
This unfortunately was not our case so we tried to release the boot by unfolding an iron coat hanger in a shape of a hook to reach the boot lock cables inside the vinyl cover of the boot. To do this we tried to unscrew the vinyl boot cover but it was impossible due to the luggage. So we decide to destroy one of the two trolley luggage. First we tried to cut it with a Swiss knife, then using a wire wheel hammer and a screwdriver but without success. At the end we decided to ask the Relais Vignale to send us their handyman with a circular electric saw to cut the luggage. From the cut luggage we pulled out the clothes and then the luggage itself. Finally, using the unfolded iron coat hanger that we shaped as a long hook, we passed through the space in the boot lock system at the left and right end of the boot and we unreleased the lock first from one side and then from the other. Alleluia the boot was opened!!
We also verified how the problem was caused: due to vibrations, the tensioned system of one of the two wire ropes of the boot lock system got unscrewed. We opened the vinyl cover of the boot and fixed the problem.
In Tuscany people say that “there is always a good reason to celebrate with Chianti wine” therefore to celebrate a released boot lid it was needed to open three bottles!
Above: celebrating released boot lid
After a good and rich breakfast we were ready for our first Chianti Wine Tasting at Badia di Coltibuono an historic 11th-century stone abbey and farm surrounded by Italian gardens and a
Above: Badia a Coltibuono Abbey
Above: Coltibuono Gardens & Coltibuono Wisteria
We visited the ageing cellars built 1000 years ago by the monks, the geometrical Italian Garden, the courtyards and the cloister to stop in the frescoed room where our sommelier guided us through the bouquet and the taste of Sangiovese variety that makes their organic wine so unforgettable.
Above: Colmatore and Coltibuono Chianti tasting
We also learned the importance of the “colmatore” or “airlock”,
The ingenious Leonardo da Vinci invention that is still in use in the best wineries all over the world.
The colmatore is a glass feature positioned on top of the barrels that allows the wine to expand when the CO2, resulting from the fermentation, needs to find a way out without increasing the pressure inside the barrels (which would slow down the process of fermentation) Meanwhile it avoids contact between wine and air that will transform wine into vinegar. When the fermentation is finished, the “Leonardo airlock” is able to maintain a zero oxygen level inside the barrel. Observing the first part of the instrument, wine makers can also understand if the wine is expanding or reducing so they know it is needed to add or extract some wine.
After this interesting lesson we knew for sure that a quantity of Chianti wine had to be “extract” from some bottles to “stimulate” our curious taste buds!
Our cars were thirsty too so we drove them to a “fuel tasting” in the private garage we booked in Siena. As they were satiated, we left them sleeping in their “car hotel” while we had our walking tour in this fabulous Tuscan town.
Piazza del Campo is something unique, the view coming from the narrow roads before arriving at the square leave anyone breathless.
Above: Siena Panoramic
Above: Cloudy Siena
The weather was variable: sunny, cloudy but also rainy…we suppose in honor of our British brave cars born to race in wet conditions. In any case in Tuscany and on their t-shirts people say: “Keep calm and drink Chianti” and so we did.
Above: Keep calm and drink Chianti
Above: Pizzeria Siena
After our Pizza & Chianti pit-stop we visited the impressive Museo Civico inside the 13th century Palazzo Pubblico where each of its magnificent rooms are adorned by amazing frescoes.
Above: Palazzo Pubblico
The Duomo Cathedral also filled our eyes by “la Grande Bellezza” the great beauty of Siena and we felt it was difficult to leave that gem without having something special to remind us our visit forever. A normal souvenir was really not
enough. That’s why our team leader Aza had an unusual idea: a month before she asked the State Archives of Siena to prepare us the official Charta Peregrini Senensis (the Siena Pilgrim Certificate ) where each couple found their names
written on it.
Above: Duomo Siena and Charta Peregrini Senensis
Leaving Siena we started our last leg of the journey to reach the quiet and romantic Roman Thermal Village of Bagno Vignoni.
Above: Leaving Siena
Above: Bagno Vignoni thermal valley
Above: Peaceful parking
When we arrived at Posta Marcucci Hotel we were tired but happy. Sometimes having a room with parking view could be irritating but in our case was pleasant, especially because we could admire
our seven different color cats sleeping surrounded by a peaceful green landscape. We needed to relax as well, so we decided to plunge into the warm healing waters of the panoramic thermal pool.
Above: Thermal pool, healing spring & mini cake
After our water reinvigoration we were ready for another type of liquid, this time we chose the Brunello di Montalcino, the famous local red wine able to make people forget problems and inhibitions. In fact knowing that our friend Eleni
had her birthday that evening, our maitre and the waiters helped by their playful Tuscan spirit, came at the table singing and carrying a “symbolic” dessert with a pink candle on it. We all thought it was their best wishes for a hot night of celebrations!
The morning after, super relaxed by the healing effects of all those natural liquid therapies, we switched on our engines to reach Montalcino and a seven centuries years old very well known winery named Fattoria dei Barbi
Above: Ready to go
Above: to Montalcino
Above: Fattoria dei Barbi group
Every wine connoisseur knows the famous Brunello di Montalcino made from the Sangiovese red grape variety. The Colombini family have owned land at Montalcino since 1352 and in the late 18th century they acquired the Fattoria dei
Barbi to start producing Brunello.
In their historical cellars we admired some very rare bottles dating from 1870 to 1918 that they managed to hide from the Germans when they stole the entire collection during the Second World War. In fact the owners have continued to
store their best wines only after 1945.
Above: rare bottles
Above: (left) admiring Museo Siena ceilings, (right) amazing ceiling
Above: Barbi E-Type view
Above: Barbi cellars
After our gorgeous lunch at their Taverna with a fruity and velvety Brunello di Montalcino tasting, we drove again on beautiful winding roads to reach the Sant’Antimo Abbey, a Benedictine monastery built in the 12th century.
Above: winding roads
Above: Sant' Antimo Abbey
Above: Castiglione d'Orcia
We passed through Castiglione d’Orcia with its tower fortress to return to Bagno Vignoni. This fascinating tiny village is different from all the others: what in traditional towns is a main square, in Bagno Vignoni is the Piazza delle Acque : a
49 meters long and 29 wide pool from the bottom of which bubble up a number of hot springs at 52 degrees Celsius. The therapeutic quality of these healing waters was renowned since antiquity.
Above: Bagno Vignoni Piazza Acque
Above: Bagno Vignoni group
The first destination of the day after was Montepulciano, the beautiful medieval town where you can experience two diametrically different emotions: the pleasure of tasting their unique red local wine named Vino Nobile and the horror
of the Torture Museum created to sensitize visitors against torture and death penalty.
We decided to start from visiting the village and the Museum created in the 15th century palace of Cardinal Inquisitor Roberto Bellarmino . The view from the ramparts reminded us the quiet and romantic landscapes of the Leonardo da Vinci paintings.
Above: Montepulciano view
Above: Montepulciano & Gattavecchi Jaguar view
At the Gattavecchi Winery they kindly reserved us their parking. It was a strange feeling thinking that in the 12th century exactly in the same space the horse carriages of the Padri Serviti Monastery were loaded by the red wine of
their historical cellars. . Still keeping that emotion alive, we visited the underground grottos and the Etruscan caves. Later, in the adjacent 1260 refectory vaults of the Santa Maria dei Servi church, we enjoyed our lunch and wine tasting. The elegant wine they produce is made by the Prugnolo Gentile local variety and it was perfect to match with their delicious handmade pasta pici with duck sauce and their beef tagliata
with rosemary and red berries.
Above: Gattavecchi cellars
Above: Gattavecchi Vino Nobile
The second visit of the day was dedicated to the most important and ancient majolica ceramic factory in Deruta: the Ubaldo Grazia family that, after 25 generations, still produces their magnificent masterpieces since year 1500.
Above: Grazia Maioliche Deruta E-types
Above: Grazia painting procedure
Above: Grazia museum
Museums and customers all over the world now have their creations, from the White House and President Bush to George Clooney who recently ordered their delicate Venice Carnival dish set.
Above: George Clooney dish set
La Grande Bellezza of this day needed a great end in another historical location: il Castello di Monterone , a true fairytale medieval castle transformed in a boutique hotel in the outskirt of Perugia
Above: Castello di Monterone hotel
Above: Castello di Monterone view
In the Middle Ages there were no cars but at least our modern iron-knights felt as princes just for one night.
Above: Castello di Monterone Jaguar view
Above: Monterone Prince Richard & Prince Alexander
Leaving the castle the morning after we reached Perugia to participate at la “Coppa della Perugina”, a classic car Rally organized by CAMEP Club President Mr. Ugo Amodeo who is also the E-type Club Representative to Italy.
Above: (left) Ugo Amodeo E-Type Club Rep Italy & Alexandre Holis XK & E-Type Club Rep Greece, (right) 70 Coppa Perugina
La Coppa della Perugina started as a race in 1924 and now is a three days regularity and touristic rally that offers excellent experiences choosing a luxury hotel and a Gala in an aristocratic villa , delicious gastronomy and wines,
historical and natural locations and this year also a challenging run in the Magione circuit.
130 crews took part of this edition, two of them from Japan, one from Australia and one from Swisse but our seven Jaguar XK & E Types group coming from Greece was indeed the biggest team.
While Aza helped the ladies with the roadbook tricks, the drivers were attending the briefing and then attaching the rally numbers on the doors of their cars.
Above: (left) co-drivers training, (right) before the rally start
Above: Coppa Perugina Start
Above: Coppa Perugina Magione Circuit
In late afternoon we were back to Perugia, an elegant town where history is still alive and you can feel the atmosphere of the centuries in every brick of its buildings.
Above: Perugia fountain
Above: Perugia Panoramic
While the boys were talking to other drivers and admiring their cars, the ladies had some time for shopping and go to the hairdresser in order to be perfect for the Gala dinner at Villa Montefreddo.
Above: Ladies at Gala
During our second rally-day we passed through Assisi, the world known UNESCO city where Saint Francis was born and died and where millions of pilgrims arrive every day since 1228 when the Basilica was constructed over the crypt containing the relics of the Saint.
Above: Coppa Perugia Assisi
We drove also through the pituresque village of Spello continuing south to reach the giant 165 meters Marmore falls.
Above: Marmore falls, (right) Marmore Falls & E-type
Before our arrival in Perugia, the entire city was enjoying a pedal car rally for children, a vintage fashion show displayed by the students of the Fashion Academy of Perugia and at the end our shining convoy of marvelous different
cars passing through Corso Vannucci.
Above: Vintage classic look
Above: Coppa Perugia Finish line
Above: Gorgeous couple, (right) sleeping beauty
La Coppa della Perugina took this name from the famous Italian chocolate company that in 1924 started the tradition of this race. Part of the challenge of our rally was to wait and resist until the Maitre Chocolatier was preparing
delicious mouth watering creations in front of us. At the end of lesson luckily everyone of us tasted his fresh preparations and we received a kilo of sweet memories to be enjoyed on our way home.
Above: Chocolate lesson
As our 6 E-Types and 1 XK was the largest foreign team participating to the rally, the organizing committee gave a special gift to the Greek Team in order to toast in the typical Italian way: a Magnum bottle of fine Grappa.
Above: Greek Team Prize giving
On board of our ferry on the way back to Greece we reminded the romantic but also exciting moments we lived together and we thought how lucky will be the crews who will attend the XK Club Tuscany Tour in September.
We really encourage our Jaguar friends all over the world to become part of a “bellissima avventura Italiana”.
Above: Arrivederci Italia - welcome back Greece!
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