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Time warp

Discover a uniquely Italian form of nostalgia on the Coppa Franco Mazzotti – a classic car rally from Brescia to Lake Garda

@petervg73

WITH THAT DRAMATIC FLOURISH OF a gauntlet that Italian trafic police are so skilled at delivering, the motorbike rider commands a line of cars to pull aside. Following the licker of his blue lights and the howl of his sirens, a more colourful convoy joins him in overtaking – a roaring, buzzing, honking, smoking assortment of classic cars. Vivid emotions are expressed on the faces of the commuters whose drive home from work has been briely delayed, followed by gesticulations – not of frustration or anger, but surprise and happiness. In a sleepy village at the border of the Lombardy and Veneto regions, a warm welcome is given to this wave of nostalgia that has come barrelling through.

Our cartoonish group had set out from Brescia, also the starting point of the world’s most famous road race, the Mille Miglia (1,000 Miles). The race ran in its original, wildly dangerous form between 1927 and 1957, Fixing an excitement for cars in the DNA of the city and its surrounding area. The course carried a motley assortment of competing vehicles – from tiny family saloons to viciously powerful experimental racers – from Brescia to Rome and back, coping with hazards that included ive million spectators and the occasional stray donkey. In 1957 the Mille Miglia saw its 56th fatality and was outlawed. It was reborn 20 years later, continuing to this day as a highly exclusive, carefully marshalled parade of classic cars that would have been eligible for the original race.

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