Every time we go to the Alps or we spend time by some of the charming italian lakes, we ask ourselves if we could ask for more. Surprisingly Summer Marathon has the power to deeply enhance that feeling of enjoyment and gratification.
What does Summer Marathon consist of ?
It’s an international regularity race for vintage cars, enriched by Concours d’Elegance. It takes place in Italy, and in minor part in Switzerland, through stunning landscapes and elegant renowned locations in the Alps.
Here are our impressions as not competing followers.
Day 1, 13th June
As soon as we get to the check in we feel a friendly atmosphere, the organizer are polite and helpful, especially Sonia and Mr. Ferruccio. The place itself, the old dock by the lake shore, and the landscape are charming.
Worth to mention is that the city of Desenzano was the cradle of the high speed aviation section of the Air Force in the ‘30s, the so called “RAV” – Reparto Alta Velocità. They were testing and tuning the famous red racing seaplanes, powered by 3000 HP engines, such as the Macchi MC72. The monument in the city center is dedicated to those brave aviators.
The first cars and competitors are just arriving for the registration. This is really an international event and we can see teams from Belgium, U.K., Russia, Poland, even Argentina and Japan.
Just seeing so many classic cars in such a location, mixing history, architecture, sailships, water and mountains tells us that the next day is going to be very promising.
In the evening we gather for a drink with music and a light meal in a local bar in the city center tasting some glasses of good Lugana wine. On the way back to the hotel we take our time to enjoy the colorful sunset over the Garda lake and its surrounding mountains.
Day 2, 14th June
The historical center is closed so that the competitors can finish tuning, cleaning their cars and adding the stickers with great care, as they were limbs of their vehicles. Their shiny metal horses are getting closer and some of them look very distinctive, such as a 3 litre Bentley dated 1925, a Wolseley Hornet Special from 1932, a special C-Type Jaguar and a Maserati 3500 GT spider dated 1960. This last one was the the same car presented at the Geneva Motor Show. Not only people or tourists, but even some small ducks are interested and coming to take a look. Pilots are starting to go through the road book reading about the trials they will face, nonetheless there is time to exchange a few words with enthusiasts.
The race officially starts from the bridge; the cars are soon running northbound, alongside the Garda lake, followed by the Special Followers (non-competitive participants). Vehicles begin to climb the mountains through challenging roads and cotinuous curves on which first trials are performed. Pilots drive on partly around the charming Idro lake and stopping shortly in an “agriturismo” placed in the vineyard, in Storo, for a light meal based on local food.
But the race can’t wait and requires to restart quickly heading to Madonna di Campiglio and passing by other renowned turistic locations, such as Pinzolo. Behind these roads, the peaks of the Italian Alps, still white of the snow, with other remarkable landscapes, define the background which is just a taste of what we will see in the next days.
For us driving and admiring at the same time a Giulietta spider, surrounded by this postcard scenario is like being in a fairy tale. Sometimes we would like to stop and stare at what is front of us and breath the sparkling cool air. Or maybe it’s better to go back to push on the accelerator. It’s not easy to choose but almost probably any choice is the right one.
In Madonna di Campiglio we have a stop in a nice cafeteria in the the town center, taking some time to have something and finally look at the mountains and the cars carefully.
Time is running short so we head down towards Malè, in the val di Sole, as the first of the four Concourses d’Elegance will take place soon. We are welcomed by authorities and by a small kiosk run by the friendly former member of the army alpine corp, who offer us a well-deserved drink and sympathy.
The Concours d’Elegance sees the exquisite cars parade in front of the jurors with the very rich and detailed comment of the speaker of the organization. The Concours is won by the Jaguar C-type of 1968.
The day ends in a relaxing hotel, located in a quiet area in the village of Commezzadura.
Day 3, 15th June
Saturday morning arrives and we appreciate the early morning mountain temperature, which leads everyone to wear warm clothes. The third day is the most intense part of the event, consisting of 323 km, split into 6 time checks, 32 precision time trials and 4 average trials. After a quick but rich breakfast, cars start leaving from Commezzadura with dew drops still on their bonnets heading to the amazing passo del Tonale.
Forerunners are always a Lancia Delta Integrale and an Alfetta of the italian Polizia, happy to switch-on his historic siren on. Competitors are engaged in with the trials from the very first moments. Once we decided to pass all the competitors in order to take some pictures, we find ourselves even stucked by a unusual mixed herd of cows and sheeps blocking the whole roadway!
After that, the road becomes steep and we feel like being attracted by the snowy Adamello mountain, which becomes more and more spectacular as we approach it. The whole day is spent through great landscapes: large and deep valleys that flank glaciers and breathtaking views. They want to be the ideal frame for this competition and for these cars in their elegant and shining bodies.
We dive in towards Ponte di Legno, then targeting the dreaded Mortirolo pass, narrow and steep. We even cross a cycling race in the opposite direction that makes driving even more challenging. Finally leaving this pass of countless curves, we go towards passo del Foscagno, that is the gate for the famos village of Livigno. The location is really pretty, with its blooming nature, and we turn the engine off for a short but needed stop after this long driving session.
The road climbs further and in a moment we are in Switzerland crossing a scenery where the green gives the way to an intriguing high mountain landscape with a lunar aspect. That introduces us to the elegant and luxury St. Moritz. It’s redundant to say that the its city center is a jewel, literally! The cars of the Summer Marathon are parked in front of exclusive perfumeries and jewelers and look like the natural actors of an advertisement of the past. What an ideal stage for a Concours d’Elegance, which actually takes place just before lunch at the famous Hotel Steffani. Good opportunity to chat with the drivers and Mr. Ferruccio, always friendly and kind. The concours is won by a Nash-Healey Pininfarina Le Mans of 1953.
We then leave St. Moritz with destination Pellizzano, admiring these pleasant Swiss views. In Pellizzano the third Concours d’Elegance takes place in a small but picturesque town square, enriched in the background by a nice old church of the fifteenth century. Then a pleasant open air refereshment is offered by the local tourist office. The concours is won by a Fiat X1/9 of 1973.