For the annual trip abroad, the Alfaclub of The Netherlands selected once more Italy as the place to go. After the 2010 Centannial trip this was going to be the second time for me to take part. For friend and co-Alfisti Huib it was business as usual, for he's taking part almost every year. For me: It's the call of Italy that does it all: taking the car 'Back Home'.
The trip to Italy would take us across three mountain ridges: The Vosges in France (overnight stop in Colmar), The Alps through Switzerland towards the Dolomites in Italy (2 overnight stops in Bolzano) and back west through the Italian Alps to Lago Maggiore (5 overnight stays in Baveno). To any car-enthusiast/Italy-lover that should sound like a dream. 75 clubmembers understood this was an offer they couldn't refuse. Cars ranging from brand new Giulietta's to the oldest participant: a 2600 Touring Spider, 8C's and SZ/RZ's, 70's and early 80's Alfetta's and Giulietta's and of course many, many cars of the famous 105-series: Giulia, GT Junior/GTV, Spiders & Berlina's. To manage technical hick-ups, a technical back-up team followed closely.
Through France and Switzerland the Spider was driving great. But the closer we came to one of those all-time bucket-list destinations: The famous Stelvio-pass, the car started to behave funny. Backfiring like mad, running on only 3 pots. Turned out to be a combination over overrich mixture on the second cilinder and contactpoints that were eaten up quicker than they should. Huib and I managed to get the car limping 'home' to Bolzano. We had to decide to leave the Stelvio for another time though. The technical guys finetuned the car back into shape that same evening. (The problem only came back some 100 km's before we reached home on the last day of the trip, got there limping again. Further investigation revealed that the ignition capacitator had died.)
The trip from Bolzano, travelling through the Alps north of the lakes, to Lago Maggiore went like a dream, taking multiple passes, circumnavigating the lakes, enjoying all those Alfa's around us. As a matter of fact the Italians did as well. What a joy it is to be so welcome, we had 'innocent bystanders' applauding us for our noisy, stinking cars.
With that in mind, one of the highlights of the trip was a visit to Vigevano, a town sporting the famous Alfa snake everywhere (The Lombardian Visconti and Sforza families being responsible for that, as well as for its position in the Alfa logo). The Italian Alfa-club had arranged police motorcycle-escort for our 75 cars to move at high speed from the outskirts of town right to the Piazza Ducale: Only in Italy! We felt like we were taking part in the Mille Miglia! Our cars were parked on the Piazza for everyone to see. The mayor held a speech, music was made by people in medieval dress, flags were thrown about. To top it all we had lunch under the trees on the Sforza castle square.
Spending time in a superb hotel located right on the boarders of the lake also contributed to this general feeling of joy and happiness: As if died and gone to heaven………….