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Gullwings Seeing so many Mercedes-Benz 300SLs was a treat

The Mille Miglia: where pageantry reigns

VOLANTE Stanley Moss heads to the start of the 2017 Mille Miglia, where motor racing takes a back seat to the spectator sport of celebrity-spotting
Photographed by Paula Sweet; additional photographs by the author




The Mille Miglia A spectacle in Brescia


Stanley Moss is travel editor of Lucire.

The Mille Miglia usually drags into our town of Vicenza in the late afternoon, cars creep through the Piazza Signori, then roar out of town via the Corso Palladio. This year we decided to do it differently and went to where the action starts, Brescia, early in the day, a university town about 100 km northeast of Milano, to get a look at over 400 vintage gas-guzzlers on their way to Roma and back. We navigated crowds through the narrow old lanes, finally coming out to a group of open plazas where the vehicles assemble. Owners hover about, nervously comparing paint jobs and hoping spectators keep their feet off the bumpers. It’s positively mediæval, pageantry reigns, not to mention the constant roar of finely tuned engines and the omnipresent scent of perfect fuel mix. The great spectator sport is trying to figure out who’s driving, textile heir, retired industrialist, movie star, corporate executive, tech millionaire, classy collector? And who’s sitting in the passenger seat? Business partner, significant other, weekend lover, paid navigator, chick you’re trying to impress? This sport requires more than a large sum of cash and the appropriate costuming and headgear. The prizes don’t amount to anything much, and the goal is simply to say, ‘I did it.’ One can only sympathize with the singular thrill of waving to the assembled masses as you put the pedal to the metal and motor into the Italian hinterlands, land of fantasy and recollection, for a particular moment in time, lost in the way things used to be and never will be again. •


Jaguar XK120





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