If you’re considering hitting the open road and heading for Italy, but aren’t sure where to start, take a look at our Italian road trip diary.
When many of us set our out of office and head off on holiday, it’s a chance to stop thinking about anything work-related, but this wasn’t the case for one car-obsessed member of the Swansway Motor Group Marketing team.
Setting his out of office, social executive Sam was eager to embark on a 10-day road trip to and around Italy, taking in sites of France and Switzerland along the way. Organised by Automotive Adventurer Ben Coombs - who is well known for documenting his road trips for his thousands of social media followers to see, these road trips, include his 27,000-mile trip between the northernmost and southernmost pubs in the world – 29 people were travelling in 16 cars setting off on the ‘Beer Italia’ road trip.
Take a look below at Sam’s day-by-day diary of the trip.
Day one marked the start of ‘Beer Italia’, a driving trip from our homes in the UK to Italy. This trip has been a long time in the making, having been postponed nearly 3 years ago due to Covid-19.
With people travelling from all over the UK to take part in this trip, our first port of call was a hotel in Maidstone where we’d meet the rest of the convoy before catching the Eurotunnel the next morning.
I was riding shotgun in a Corvette Z06 with my friend hopping in the driver’s seat. The trip from our homes to Maidstone made for a great start of the trip, well, until we inevitably hit traffic on the M25. It was at this point we realised that the Corvette’s air conditioning had been disconnected during the engine rebuild that had taken place the previous week.
We were grateful for the stop we had made at Caffeine and Machine for a spot of lunch before taking the M25. After surviving the baking heat without air conditioning, we located the hotel, parked up for the night and treated ourselves to a well-deserved pint.
It’s here that we were able to meet up with some fellow car nuts and take a good look at their cars, the convoy was made up of the following;
Aston Martin Vantage Coupe
Aston Martin Vantage Roadster
Lamborghini Huracan Spyder
TVR Chimaera x3
TVR Tamora x2
BMW Z4 Alpina
Do I need to say anymore, it’s clear we were all geared up for an adventure of a lifetime!
Up bright and early, we made the crossing via the Eurotunnel heading towards our next pit stop, a hotel in Troyes. Unfortunately, a few members of the team hadn’t made it to the first checkpoint and quickly had to organise a backup vehicle to get them to Troyes by the end of the day. The first big challenge of the trip!
Once off the Eurotunnel, we made our way to the famous Reims-Gueux race track accompanied by the Lamborghini Huracan.
Whilst we were snapping a few photos, we drew quite a crowd at the old racing grounds before venturing onwards towards Troyes.
It was on this very hot journey that we realised that the Corvette (still without A/C) was heating up the water in our bottles more effectively than a kettle, leading us to set our bottle challenge for the following day, could we make a respectable brew in the cabin of the Corvette.
The third day didn’t go exactly as planned, due to the Corvette recently having a heart transplant, it was now ready for an oil change, a simple procedure many would say. Not this time, unfortunately in a mix-up, the owner had ordered the wrong oil filter, and after a mishap with a set of pliers, the original filter had been pierced, leaving us well and truly stuck.
We searched high and low in several local garages with no luck, due to the rarity of the vehicle and the fact that it was a Sunday. After eventually admitting defeat our only option was to stay in Troyes for another night whilst the rest of the convoy continued on the journey to Chamonix.
All was not lost as our extra night in Troyes gave us time to explore the beautiful city, enjoying the sunshine (outside of the very hot Corvette) and tucking into some great food, whilst tracking down an Autopart centre online.
An early start kicked off day four! Knocking on the doors of Autodistribution Herbemount hopeful for an oil filter replacement for the Corvette. After some questionable use of the French language and a lot of explaining, the helpful team were able to supply us with the correct oil filter.
At this point we were able to let out a huge sigh of relief, we quickly ventured back to the hotel to carry out the oil change in record time, before grabbing our bags, throwing them in the boot and setting off on a road trip to Turin.
Despite the hiccup with the oil filter, performing the oil change was something we were able to do fairly easily, however, in hindsight, it would have been best to check the engine oil before setting off on our journey.
The rest of the day consisted of a 12-hour road trip from Troyes to Chamonix, passing over the Alps and arriving in Turin. After its oil change, the Corvette drove faultlessly and we were finally able to experience the V8 symphony.
Arriving late in Turin, we put the Corvette to bed for the night and caught up with the other members of the trip, who greeted us with a warm welcome and a much-needed bottle of beer. This was the first night that all members of the convoy were able to join together. Everyone had managed to make it, from our oil change setback to the group who didn’t even make it out of England on the first day, to the heroic Triumph TR5 which had caught fire whilst driving through France. The determination from everyone on this trip was truly unrivalled.
Oh and for those who were wondering, despite our rush to get the Corvette back on the road, we still had time to carry out our little coffee experience. I can confirm, that the Corvette makes an exceptional bottle of coffee!
With the whole convoy finally as one, it was time to really get this trip underway, although, after all the drama of the first few days, we took things at a gentler pace on day 5.
We set off on a two-hour drive from Turin, stopping in Parma along the way for a spot of lunch, then onwards to the renowned Enzo Ferrari Museum.
As self-proclaimed car nerds, this is where we came into our own, the vehicles on display here were honestly jaw dropping and I would highly recommend a visit here. After we had finished drooling over the most iconic Ferrari models, we pressed onwards to our hotel which was located in Fiorina. On the way to the hotel, I was able to sneak a ride in the Lamborghini Huracan Spyder, which I can confirm was blisteringly quick!
The day ended with rooftop cocktails and a firework display, this truly was a pinch yourself moment!
The trip went from great to unbelievable on day 6. What could beat visiting the Ferrari, Lamborghini and Pagani Museums all in one day? Nothing, well at least in my eyes! The cars on display were mind-blowing, from the Pagani Zonda Rs to Lamborghini Reventons and Ferrari F40s.
This was a huge bucket list day and once again, I would recommend the museums to any car enthusiasts, it makes for the ideal stop on your road trip!
Once again the day ended with a group meal and a few drinks, it was so fantastic to be able to spend time together, chatting about the journey so far.
On the morning of the eighth day, we left Sulden bright and early to tackle the legendary Stelvio Pass.
Stopping at the top to take in the views, and unfortunately a few clouds, we waited here for the other members of the convoy to eventually catch up. However, on the way back down, after pushing the Corvette quite hard, we started to suffer from an over-heating problem, later discovering the fan modulator had given up. A quick bypass, whilst on the side of an Alpine bend, soon sorted the problem and we were back on our way!
After taking in the phenomenal passes we ventured through Switzerland and into France for our next hotel stay, another breath-taking day, that wasn’t without its drama.
A fortress followed by snails!
The penultimate day of our trip led us to the beautiful Chateau du Haut! Originally constructed in the 11th century, it has been rebuilt several times over the years and interestingly has been occupied by both the French and Germans.
It was great to take in some of the history of the area, this road trip, whilst mostly centred on cars, was also about seeing new parts of the world and taking in the culture.
So of course, when we stopped for food, we had to tuck into some traditional escargot, before beginning the long cruise to the last stay of the trip, a hotel in Laon.
On our way, we were stopped by the French rozzers, who simply wanted to take a closer look at the cars before sending us on our way.
This was a bittersweet day, the final day of our trip.
We grouped together at a gorgeous cathedral in Laon for a final meet-up before beginning our long journey home and heading our separate ways.
What an unforgettable road trip!
From meeting like-minded people to exploring Europe, trying new foods and ticking off a bucket list item almost every day!
So has Sam’s ultimate Italian road trip inspired you to start planning your own? Perhaps you’ve lived vicariously through Sam’s diary but fancy staying a little closer to home.
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