Sunday, October 9, 2011

Mille Fiori

Our Route Book, 214 pages!

Our trip to Germany was not just about wining and dining with friends and trying on designer clothes. It was also about touring the Alps in a classic sports car. Seriously. We spent four days with forty-nine other classic cars zipping through picture perfect German Black Forest villages, crossing the German, Swiss or French borders a couple times a day, zooming around Mont Blanc and motoring past luscious green Swiss hills.

Our friend, Christof Hillebrand, who is a classic car collector and aficionado, invited us on an amazing adventure called the Mille Fiore, a 1200 kilometer road rally. He loaned us a sexy Italian car; a sleek dark blue 1974 Alfa Romeo Bertone 2000. I've never thought much about any car I've owned, as long as it had four wheels and it took me where I wanted to go. But after spending time with so many beautifully designed cars, I have a new outlook. Being in a sexy car does make one feel more sexy and stylish.

You may ask, what about the outfits? What about the clothes? Not a priority on this adventure for a couple of reasons; sports cars have small trunks and we were sitting in a car most of the day. So accessorizing was huge, note Pucci scarf and Hermes hat below. And I learned that a cool car is a fabulous accessory!

I fell in love with "our" Alfa. I grew very fond of the throaty, robust  tone of the tuned exhaust .

The event started in Lake Konstanz, Germany, on the garden island of Mainau with all the cars gathered in front of the peachey-pink Mainau Palace. We had a couple hours to meet people and admire the other cars and then we were off!

Our friend Christof's intensely elegant Mercedes Benz 600

Not knowing anything about a road rally, I imagined we'd casually drive a few hours a day through beautiful scenery, with plenty of time to daydream and chat. But I soon learned that "Road Rally" in Europe is a serious sport. As the navigator, I was handed a two-inch thick spiral-bound book filled with pages of route hierglyphics. Being directionally challenged my first reaction was "You're kidding, right?"

A page from the Route des Alpes book.
After our bumpy start, it got us where we had to go
and I sure appreciate the team that put this together.

Matt and I roared through the starting gate and the first forty-five minutes on the road we had a "heated discussion" ("which way do I turn?" "I don't know!" "You have the book, what does it say?" "I can't tell where we are!""I have to do something, tell me which way to turn!" "Stop yelling!" "I'm not yelling!"...) But our relationship survival instincts kicked in and soon we developed a routine. I felt more like a human GPS, "Point 5 kilometers, roundabout, go straight" "Point 1 kilometer, town of Kreuztingen, continue straight". On the first day, we had no time for conversation or casual gazing out the window.  But by day two we got into the game of it and I was loving our rally on the road.

Fun to follow this Austin Healey MKIII.

Cool to be followed by this Jaguar XK 120 OTS

Quite a line-up! Our lunch stop on day three near Chamonix. 

In the Alps with the Austin Healey and a Triumph TR 5 Pi

Our route

The Imperial Palace Hotel on Lake Annecy, where we stayed on our second night. Each night we stopped at a beautiful hotel. The Mille Fiore event planners did a great job of organizing all the details. 

The rally ended back at the Mainau Palace where we started. I felt a sense of accomplishment; we kept pace with the Europeans!


  1. The navigation "discussion" between you and Matt reminded me of the days guiding my husband through foreign countries. You must have felt like you were in a 50's movie-maybe with Cary and Grace Kelly or 007 in the car behind you. What fun and what an experience.

  2. Hey Leska - remember when I went to France for the first time, to stay with Marie? She lived on Lake Annecy -- the other side from where you were, I think. The town was called Veyrier du Lac.

    What a fantastic adventure.