Coming up in May is one of Italy’s favourite sporting events – the classic car rally Mille Miglia. A staple part of the car world for decades, the race began life as a high-octane endurance race, and these days is a four-day celebration of vintage and classic cars. The 2016 race kicks off on May 19 in Brescia, Lombardy. Here’s all you need to know…
The golden years of Gran Turismo
The Mille Miglia (literally, the ‘thousand miles’) was an endurance car race that wound its way around Italy every year between 1927 and 1957. Considered the golden age of Gran Turismo (grand touring), the event was a high-octane race around the country’s famously scenic roads and cobblestone piazzas in Italy’s most beautiful cities.
As thrilling as the race was, the Mille Miglia was eventually discontinued due to the climbing number of crashes that occurred each year. Towards the end, only 50% of cars would make it to the end. These days, the Mille Miglia celebrates the finest cars from the era and enjoys a slightly calmer four-day spin around the country.
Spot the vintage car
To qualify for the race, the vintage and classic cars must have been produced during the era of the original race – that’s between 1927 and 1957. Look out for Aston Martins, BMWs, Jaguars, Bugattis, Ferraris and our favourite, the classic Fiat 500.
If you catch the car bug, you can experience Italy in a classic car with a Fiat 500 tour – read all about our vintage car adventure in Chianti here.
The route and where to watch
The route of the Mille Miglia sticks pretty close to the original. The race always kicks off in the beautiful city of Brescia, located halfway between Verona and Milan. Setting off by the Duomo in the old town, it’s the perfect chance to see all the cars in one go and wave them off in style.
There are four official legs of the tour:
1. Brescia to Rimini (May 19, 2016)
2. Rimini to Rome (May 20, 2016)
3. Rome to Parma (May 21, 2016)
4. Parma to Brescia (May 22, 2016)
The race passes through many major cities including Verona, Bologna and Florence. If you fancy going to watch, it’s easy – the race takes place on open roads, and all you need is a map of the route. In the cities, just follow the crowd – the event pulls in thousands of spectators waving and cheering the cars on, and there’s always a big party atmosphere. Here’s a tip: hold up a big sign saying ‘GAS!’ to get the cars to show off their acceleration.
(Click to enlarge)