RIP in Europe 2013 Part 2

Photo for RIP in Europe 2013 Part 2

We met our UK mates, the Barron’s, in their black MGA Twin Cam, in Livorno, Italy and caught up with many of the people we had met when we joined Piero and his MG followers to Greece in 2011.

Click here to read Part 1 of this article.

Once in Olbia, Sardinia, the many-mile long convoy of 70 classic MGs headed over the numerous mountain ranges and through deep valleys to our hotel/home for the next 9 nights, in Tortoli, half way down the East coast of Sardinia. Piero forgot to organise the weather for this particular part of the trip, as the majority of cars had tops down in glorious sunshine, before a cloud burst caused mayhem! RIP has been through many a shower but this one drenched us including both sides of our spectacles! Many of the MG drivers panicked; some stopped on the motorway without pulling over to put up their hoods and one unfortunate Twin Cam was hit while parked under a bridge, with damage along the whole length of the left side of their car. It was very fortunate that no-one was seriously injured in this scramble to put up the hoods!

Damaged Twin CamDamage to the Black Twin Cam

Our time in Sardinia was very relaxing, as Piero ensured that there was plenty of downtime for us to enjoy the facilities of our beach-side hotel, if we wanted to. A few days were spent driving over mountain passes into the interior to visit various historical sites, a winery and to participate in a motorkhana on a local soccer field. We even spent a day in a ferry boat, traveling up the dramatic coast line in crystal blue water… Sardinia has been conquered by the Greeks, Italians, French, Arabs and just about every other nation on earth over the years – what for, I don’t know, as it is not a mineral-rich nor farming country – except for grapes and olives, which seem to thrive without water and with plenty of sun, sun, sun.

On our last day in Sardinia, Laurel flew home to attend a wedding and we said our goodbyes to the MG clan that was heading back to the ferry at Olbia: the Slater’s and Barron’s were joining RIP on another adventure – Sicily - the home of the famous Targa Florio race in the early c1900’s.

Landing at Trapani on the west coast of Sicily, we all felt that Sicily had a “feel” of its own. It was rich in history, the ancient sites were well kept and the distances were manageable – read, short. We enjoyed Old Town wherever we went – Trapani, Palermo, Erica, Agrigento, Baghera, Monreale and Taormina – mainly for the shopping, food and the ancient ambience. RIP even had the opportunity to visit base camp of Mt Etna and I walked – stumbled - to the top to take her photo!

Mt EtnaMt Etna

We were lucky to have met Piero (another Piero) while in Sardinia, who lives in Sicily and he organised for one of his friends to show us parts of the Targa Florio track that still exists today. His friend had rallied it 4 times in the early 1980’s and showed us the start line, pits, corporate box, the main flagging point and grave sites of drivers who had lost their lives. The Madonie track is 45miles long, up a mountain and back again in an anti-clockwise direction and was completed 11 times – that’s 500 miles (800km) on dirt roads with 1000’s of corners. No wander the drivers used to come into the pits with blood pouring from their gear-changing hand!

A highlight for me was, on completion of going through the Targa Florio museum in Cerda, the curator took the MG cap that I had recently bought from the MG Club stand at Silverstone, asked me to sign it and then hung it on a hat-stand with caps signed by many of the drivers of old, including Tazio Nuvolari! What an honour! Certainly not deserved – but a great thrill – he then insisted that we have a photo taken together and handed me a Targa Florio cap on our way out!

The Barron’s had to return to the UK unexpectedly, so the ever-present Slater’s and RIP headed for the ferry from Messina to Villa san Giovanni, Italy, to start our long run back to the UK.

The cost per kilometer to build a motorway in Italy must be in the 100 of $millions! RIP left her lights on as she entered 1000’s of tunnels and then drove over 100+ metre high via ducts above deep valleys for 1000’s of kilometers… This all made for tense driving, but the scenery was spectacular!

Another highlight for us was an evening very near the Amalfi Coast, where Gianni, the treasurer of the Italian MG Car Club and a fantastic MG chap we met in Sardinia, organised for us to stay in a friend’s hotel and to eat at another friend’s restaurant. Imagine our surprise, when we were handed a letter on arriving at our table high up the mountain at Castellabate overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. Here it is…

"Dear Sue, Pam, Ken, Dave and Geoff

"Each MG Car Club Italy member would have loved to have shared at least a short part of your drive and to dream with you. Even if this is impossible we want to tell you that in the place you are right now there is a small part of our heart. After the event which took place there last year, Castellabate became a home for MG people and so in this evening you are our special guests and our club is pleased to offer you this dinner.

"The President, Mr Fabio Filippello, the Steering committee and I, are there with you in spirit and we thank you for being so special and such good friends to us.

"I hope you find the place where you are as beautiful as I promised. Enjoy the evening and we all look forward to meeting you again.

"Fabio sends his best wishes remembering the good times spent together in Brescia, Monza and the Stelvio Pass.

"All the best from all of us, ciao!

"Giovanni Tesauro for the MG Car Club Italy"

PisaLucky Parking in Front of the Leaning Tower of Pisa

Grown men don’t cry, but generosity like this does not come every day and we are all extremely grateful to Fabio and the Italian MG family for the continued efforts they make to embrace the International MG Family! Why would anyone ever want to be involved in any other pastime???

Well, the run home – another 2000km – was relatively uneventful and we arrived back in the UK 6 weeks later having completed 14000km and made more International MG Friends. What a blast!

If you are wondering why I have not mentioned “car catastrophes”, it’s because there weren’t any! Other than changing the engine oil in RIP and Flame in a German workshop, both MGs started every morning and drove faultlessly during the entire trip. I have to confess I was surprised, as RIP had not been fettled since arriving in the UK from Africa, but I needn’t have worried – RIP behaved impeccably!

RIP is now on her way home to Australia to be prepared for her next adventure – to drive 22,000km from Ushuaia, Patagonia to Vancouver, Canada in 2015 through Argentina, Chile, Peru, Equator, Columbia, Panama, Costa Rica, San Salvador, Nicaragua and Mexico before entering the USA and headng for Canada.

Struth – where will we find the time to organise this one, Laurel?

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Last updated on November 5, 2013.