However these spectators missed out on the excitement of standing in a country road and hearing the distant rumble of vintage engines as they approached, obscured by trees, then witnessing the surprising speed with which they dashed past our viewing position. One huge car, its driver and passenger wearing the traditional leather helmets and goggles, even had the temerity to overtake another (the speed limit was 50kph).
|As they sped by us on the Tavarnelle - San Casciano part of the SS2|
Historically, the Mille Miglia was an Italian endurance race from Brescia in northern Italy to Rome and back, which took place 24 times between 1927 and 1957, along open roads. The miles were Roman miles, approximately 1500 kilometres. The fastest time was achieved by the British Stirling Moss, who, using a navigator and having covered the course six times before the actual race, made the trip in just over 10 hours driving a Mercedes. Previously the race had been won mostly by Alfa Romeos and Ferraris.
But it has not been a true race since 1957 when a serious accident along the road put paid to this rather cavalier competition which had been taking place along open roads lined with cheering crowds. Nine people including five children were killed.
Nowadays the Mille Miglia is a rally or parade of a selection of 375 of the pre-1957 cars which participated in at least one of the original Mille Miglia. The drivers come from all over the world and the rally is run gradually over several days. These former racing cars are supposed to go at legal speeds.
The cars are beautiful, the drivers are at times amusingly fitted out, the scene is animated and enthusiastic crowds line the roads to wave and cheer. If you are in Chianti in the middle of May you really should try to see it.
|car about to stop for lunch at San Casciano, Val di Pesa|