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A Car Guy Moves to Italy


									                                    A Car Guy
                                    Moves to Italy

Beautiful lake Como              Written by Francis G. (Frank) Mandarano and Janet Mandarano
where all visits to Italy
                                 Photos by Francis G. (Frank) Mandarano
should start.

156   I    Viale Ciro Menotti, Issue #89
                                                                                                     CAR GUY MOVES
                                                                                                     TO ITALY

Chapter 1                                         Pompei by Professor Michelle Papalardo
                                                  was absolutely incredible. Did you know
Finding an Apartment                              they had hot and cold running water 2000
To actually live in Italy, and not just shuffle
                                                  years ago? Well they did.
from one hotel to another, has been a
dream of mine for as long as I can remem-
ber. This dream became a reality when my          Chapter 2
wife Janet, our 15-year-old son Tony and I
arrived in Florence, Italy at the end of          “The Car Guy Family Gets
August 2005 for a five-month stay.                Their Visas”
In March of 2004 with the help of a broker,       By Janet Mandarano
I looked at 20 different apartments and this      To comply with Italian law (an oxymoron
one was by far the best. Most of the apart-       out of the shoot), if you will be residing in
ments were small or noisy – above a bar or        Italy more than three months you need a
on a main street with noisy motor scooters        Visa. Because we were planning on six
zipping by at all hours of the day and night.     months or maybe even a year, I (being the
I also looked at a few very nice Villas that      non-Italian cautious one), decided we
were quiet and had yards, but were not            needed to comply. Frank insisted (as
within walking distance to the center.            many of our Italian friends collaborated),
Prices of the Villas ran around 5000 to           that you can re-up your three month stay,
6000 per month ($6,000 to $7,000 dol-             parlaying into six months…and then, if
lars) plus utilities and other fees.              needed, you can exit the EU and come
Apartments were anywhere from 2000 to             back in. Okay...okay, but I wanted the
5000 plus, plus.                                  “ducks in a row.”
The Apartment we settled on was not inex-         So…. I set out to prepare our documenta-
pensive, but it was beautiful with a big                                                                 Janet and Frank take
                                                  tion to get a Visa. The website(s) were
kitchen, in an excellent location, and large                                                             time out for an
                                                  helpful, but New York vs. San Francisco                afternoon aperitif in
by Italian standards. It was close to 2500        had some discrepancies – one big one was               Florence, a ritual that
sq ft with 14 foot ceilings and in one of the     that New York actually answered their                  was to be repeated
best locations in Florence, on Embassy row        phone – once. When I inquired with our                 often.
overlooking the Arno River on Lungarno
Vespucci. The street between the
Apartment and the River is blocked off, so
there is no thru traffic resulting in a very
quiet setting. The lovely sound of the
church bells can be heard when the double
doors to the balcony are open. It was fully
furnished with phone and high-speed inter-
net (very important), and only a ten minute
walk to the city center, the Ponte Vecchio
and the main train station.
Florence being so centrally located, we
enjoyed day trips and long weekends to
Pisa, Sienna, Modena, Luca, Maranello,
and Bologna. By Eurostar train, Rome is
one and a half hours and Milan or Venice
are three hours. We also visited Pompei,
Capri, Assisi, Napoli, Venezia, Turin and
Lake Como. Pompei and Capri were the
our favorites – the most impressive places
we visited. The personalized guided tour of
                                                                                           Viale Ciro Menotti, Issue #89   I   157
                                  State Department, they said you have to         General and his wife a few years back.
                                  contact the Italian Embassy in San              According to their website, they process
                                  Francisco – right! They don’t answer their      Visa applications on two days only:
                                  phone. They do answer their email fairly        Monday and Thursday from 1:30 to 3:30. I
                                  quickly, but I never got an answer to a spe-    chose Monday (thank goodness because
                                  cific question. (At this time we were plan-     the actual day was Wednesday – not
                                  ning on taking the family dog which was         Thursday). I arrived the night before, rose
                                  another 20 hours worth of documentation         early and did a practice drive-by (they had-
                                  planning…. but that’s another story…he          n’t moved...that was a good sign). It was
                                  stayed back in Seattle).                        a beautiful day, so I headed across the
                                                                                                  Golden Gate for lunch in
                                                                                                  Conservative that I am, I
                                                                                                  arrived back at the
                                                                                                  Consulate (actually found
                                                                                                  an awesome parking spot
                                                                                                  close by after four times
                                                                                                  around the block) at 1:00
                                                                                                  (early). There were six or
                                                                                                  so people in front of me….
                                                                                                  no problem. At 1:15 the
                                                                                                  doors to the small waiting
                                                                                                  room opened and ten peo-
                                                                                                  ple exited and took their
                                                                                                  place at the head of the
                                                                                                  line. Great!
                                                                                                   Promptly at 1:30 pm the
                                                                                                   Visa application process
                                                                                                   began. As we were cued
                                                                                                   up on the sidewalk (thank-
The quintessential                I decided to go for “overkill.” I prepared a    fully it wasn’t raining and it wasn’t 90
View of Florence taken            thesis on our backgrounds (FBI sign-off is      degrees) we would hear occasional esca-
from Piazza                                                                       lating tones from inside. 2:00 pm – the line
                                  now required), financial documentation
Michelangelo.                                                                     hadn’t moved; the stories of those near me
                                  (how are you going to support yourself)
                                  with substantiating records, medical cards,     in the line began to have a common thread
                                  a lease (where will you be living), state-      – it was not their first time in this line. The
                                  ments on what you will be doing and a           lady in front of me – four times; two hours
                                  guarantee that you will not be seeking          each time, always lacking the right paper;
                                  work, acceptance letter for our son’s           the couple behind me – their third time; two
                                  school, return envelope with prepaid            hours each, each hopeful that they had
                                  postage, etc.…. in short this all added up      their papers in order this time. I was feeling
                                  to no less than three inches worth of rivet-    a bit smug, because I was “highly organ-
                                  ing reading (not!).                             ized.” Slowly, ever so slowly, the line
                                                                                  inched forward.
                                  A designee from our family needed to pres-
                                  ent the documentation in person. The            At 2:45 pm, clutching my documents in one
                                  Italian Consulate for the entire West Coast,    hand and my purse in the other (I felt like a
                                  plus a few other states (a huge territory) is   stick that was going to snap), I made it
                                  in San Francisco. I had been there on a         inside the waiting room. There were two
                                  social visit with the previous Consul           Consulate employees behind the desk –

158   I   Viale Ciro Menotti, Issue #89
                                                                                                  CAR GUY MOVES
                                                                                                  TO ITALY

one processing the documents the other            ently it’s a paperwork black hole) and she          The view from our
“watching.”                                       fought back tears, I realized with “horror”         apartment balcony
                                                  that I had overlooked one detail – the pre-         shows the Ponte
The crowd was getting restless… mutiny                                                                Vecchio as the forth
                                                  addressed return label for the prepaid
was a distinct possibility. A young guy with                                                          bridge down.
                                                  Postal Express envelope. I started to per-
his nanny (who had no passport at all)
                                                  spire; my legs began to feel weak. “How
somehow made it to the front of the line
                                                  could I be so stupid! Okay, stay calm…
with a “question” and managed to divert
                                                  maybe I’ll get a break!”
the processors attention for ten minutes…
the answer was the same to each of his            At 3:15 (remember they close at 3:30), I
pleas… “no, it is not possible.” Unsym-           turned over my documents which were
pathetic ears in the line received his pleas      color coded and clearly marked, with a
of “We’ve already rented a house for a            table of contents sheet, I might add. The
month in Tuscany and something about a            overworked Consulate employee (who was
yacht cruise.” Someone yelled, “Hey get to        really managing the best she could) said
the back of the line. She told you no!”           something excitedly in Italian and then to
Everyone within hearing distance chimed in        me in English, “this is so organized, it’s
with, “Yeah, go to the back of the line.” He      wonderful… you won’t believe what I get!”
finally relented.                                 The man, who had been standing next to
                                                  her the entire time (and who had brought
At this point, I had not seen one person
                                                  about many exemplary comments about
approved. As the lady in front of me (her
                                                  why he wasn’t doing anything…), looked
forth visit) was told she still didn’t have the
                                                  down at the application and said,
correct document for her son to do his res-
                                                  “Mandarano, how is your husband!” Well,
idency (not a student; not working…appar-

                                                                                        Viale Ciro Menotti, Issue #89   I   159
                                  that coupled with a letter of introduction       in Italy. It’s less than an hour out of Milan.
                                  from the prior Hon. Consul General and my
                                                                                   In Como, we strolled the old city center and
                                  documents being in order was enough to
                                                                                   took the ferry up to Bellagio for an after-
                                  warrant a trip to the back office to get me
                                                                                   noon of exploring and, of course, lunch at
                                  the mailing label that I needed. I received
                                                                                   a lakeside cafe. What a beautiful and
                                  the magic “Stamp, Stamp” – what a beau-
                                                                                   absolutely enchanting village. Because of
                                  tiful sound!
                                                                                   the close proximity to Switzerland (5 min-
                                  With ten minutes to spare, I left feeling like   utes by car), we took an afternoon to drive
                                  I had scaled Mt. Everest and as I passed         up to Lugano and to the much hyped fac-
                                  the 50 people cued up on the street, I           tory outlet mall, which turned out to be not
                                  declared, “We’ve been accepted!”                 so interesting.
                                                                                   Next Stop Modena
                                  Chapter 3                                        After three days in Como we drove south
Bread used to sample                                                               on the A1 Autostrada to Modena for an
                                  Off to Florence via Modena                       overnight stay at the Canalgrande Hotel.
olive oil.
                                  Our great adventure began on beautiful
Kerry and Stuart at the           Lake Como where we decompressed for              I have been coming to Modena since 1972
Imola swap meet.                  three wonderful days after arriving in coun-     and enjoy it more each time I visit. Dinner
                                  try and before departing to Florence. I high-    that night was at the local favorite Al Gritino
                                  ly recommend Lake Como as your first stop        Pizzeria, down the walking street from
                                                                                   Piazza Roma. Strolling through Modena, I
                                                                                   always get the feeling it isn’t real – like we
                                                                                   just arrived on the back lot at Universal
                                                                                   Studios – it’s so perfect and so beautiful. It
                                                                                   was laid out before there were planning
                                                                                   departments with permits and codes. The
                                                                                   requirements were simply that the streets
                                                                                   be wide enough for two ox carts to pass;
                                                                                   nothing has changed and it still works!
                                                                                   Arriving in Florence
                                                                                   For a Maserati Car Guy and his family,
                                                                                   Florence is hard to beat. It’s a big, small
                                                                                   town with a population of 375,000 includ-
                                                                                   ing a little over 12,000 foreigners. There are
                                                                                   21 different U.S. Universities represented
                                                                                   there with study programs mostly in
                                                                                   Renaissance history and, of course, art.
                                                                                   English is spoken nearly everywhere, so
                                                                                   don’t expect to be speaking Italian fluently
                                                                                   anytime soon.
                                                                                   It’s close to Modena and no more than one
                                                                                   and a half hours from all the Emilia-
                                                                                   Romagna car action. It’s also the center of
                                                                                   Renaissance history with a museum of epic
                                                                                   importance – or it seems – on nearly every
                                                                                   corner. Florence is also one of Italy’s best
                                                                                   shopping areas (okay, we know who will
                                                                                   like this aspect the most). It’s just minutes
                                                                                   from the legendary Tuscan countryside
                                                                                   with its olive and grape farms and a myriad

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of charming historic villages. And, with the
high-speed Eurostar train, you can be in
Rome in no time at all.
Florence bustles with life and the ladies will
feel safe day or night as violent crime is
nearly unheard of and is big news when it
Returning to Modena
I’d already been to Modena (the motor
capital of the world) twice; once for two
days on Car Guy business visiting Luppi,
the famous trim shop, and Autosport, one
of the world’s best restoration shops. While
driving through Modena, I pulled up next to
a car all cobbled up with black duct tape. I
grabbed my camera and began snapping
spy photos of what looked like a new
                                                                 This camouflaged test
Ferrari - or was it a Maserati (see photos)?                     mule caught on the
Wow! Was I having fun or what! The next                          streets of Modena
day it was off to the big Imola Swap Meet.                       turned out to be the
There I met up with Club President Kerry                         new Ferrari 599.
McMullen and Stuart Avery. Together we
spent hours walking around the giant event
looking at all the car and motorcycle stuff.
Car Guy life over here is really good!

Chapter 4
Delivering the Mistral Spyder
seats to Turin
A couple of weeks earlier, I drove to Turin to
deliver my Mistral Spyder seats and door
panels to Sig Gavina, the greatest interior
man in the world. He’s the same Gavina
responsible for all the Quattroporte III interi-
ors and so many other cars... the list goes
on and on.
He is the same man who did my last Mistral
Spyder #703, the maroon VCM cover car.
He performed a complete rebuild including
new foam cushions and backs. I was fortu-
nate to find an exact replacement to the
original Connolly leather and the original
Wilton Wool carpet.
To see the Mistral photos visit http://home-
.html/. And to visit the Mistral Spyder                          The Mistral Spyder (No.
Restoration Diary visit http://www.carguy-                       641) seat after the work                              of Sig. Gavina in Turin.

                                                   Viale Ciro Menotti, Issue #89   I   161
                                  Dreaming in Turin, gets the                        research team had been spending a lot of
                                  wheels Turning                                     time at Starbucks in Seattle. I thought, hey
                                                                                     they had gone from none to too many!! The
                                  I’m driving through Turin when my cell
                                                                                     same car would have a completely new
                                  phone rang and, to my surprise, I was invit-
                                                                                     dashboard with dual Mac G7 computers
                                  ed to sit in on a Board of Directors meeting
                                                                                     (instead of instruments), slots for four iPods
                                  where the new Maserati models would be
                                                                                     and twin on board digital cameras.
                                  discussed. It seemed they needed a token
                                                                                     Information to the driver would be podcast
                                  American because 35% of the sale were
                                                                                     via wi-fi.
                                  going to the USA. I was sworn to secrecy
                                  and signed a NDA, so please keep this to           Get this, the marketing guy stood up and
                                  yourself. The meeting was held in a very big       said the car would only be offered online on
                                  room with no windows on the top floor. We          the company web site. But when I logged
                                  are seated at a very long narrow table. It         on to buy one, the web site navigation sys-
                                  was hard to hear and understand. The plan-         tem led me in circles to the point where I
                                  ning team had done their research and, as          gave up. I then called the 800 number
                                  part of their brief, had determined that an        spent 20 minutes on the phone tree and
                                  all-new smaller Maserati would be well             finally got a recorded message that said call
                                  received by the Americans – to be priced           back between 1 and 3 pm on Tuesdays
                                  below $80,000 and exceed 575 HP!                   only. But when I called back at the pre-
                                  Mamma Mia! And that was from a twin                scribed time, the line was always busy.
                                  turbo diesel V6! (Strange because I had
                                                                                     Just then I woke up in a cold sweat!
                                  been in a test drive earlier that day in an Alfa
                                  Sport Crossover that felt like it had been         Now I remember... we were drinking
                                  launched from the deck of an aircraft carri-       Grappa last night after dinner and I had
                                  er, the torque caused my face to go flat.)         gone to bed when the bottle was empty. All
                                                                                     of the above had been a dream.
The incredible Bologna            This new car would have four cup holders
Auto show and the                 – one for each hand – because the                  Being a Car Guy in Italy can wear you out.
Maserati stand.                                                                      Next it was off to…

162   I   Viale Ciro Menotti, Issue #89
                                                                                                  CAR GUY MOVES
                                                                                                  TO ITALY

The Bologna Auto Show                           extra dose of glitz and flash. It is a mas-           The Maserati stand
                                                sive show, located in 30 huge hanger-size             featured the new
Any stay in Italy would not be complete                                                               Spyder Grand Sport.
                                                buildings on the Bologna fair grounds,
without going to a real live Motor Show and
                                                including six or seven outside driving and
the Bologna Motor show is Italy’s biggest
                                                test events, as well as races with grand-
and most exciting. Held each year for ten
                                                stands and all.
days in the month of December, it is the
most attended auto show in Europe. We           All the usual vendors are present, including
took the Eurostar train from Florence to the    classic cars and motorcycles. Where the
Bologna station, an easy 55minute trip and      Bologna Auto Show differs from traditional
grabbed a taxi for the short drive to the       Auto Shows is the extra portion of show biz
exhibition center.                              all geared to the 18 to 27 year old – i.e.,
                                                vendors team up with local radio stations to
The Bologna show is completely different
                                                provide lots of give-away prizes to the gen-
than any of the other auto shows I’ve
                                                eral audience, plus young dancing girls in
attended because it is geared to the 18 to
                                                very suggestive outfits everywhere. It seems
27 year old age group. If you’re a youth in
                                                every hall has two or three disco set-ups
Europe and you like cars – this is definitely
                                                with loud blaring thumping music, complete
where you want to be.
                                                with girls on stage dancing and prancing.
The Show is typical of most major car           The guys go nuts, yelling and howling. It is
shows, as it is filled with manufacturers       great fun to see! I highly recommend this
showing off their latest hardware with an       show; it is total entertainment.

                                                                                        Viale Ciro Menotti, Issue #89   I   163
164   I   Viale Ciro Menotti, Issue #89
                                                                                                     CAR GUY MOVES
                                                                                                     TO ITALY

Oh the cars, yes we did have a look at a          have lunch and do a little shopping. Janet
few of them, actually quite a few of them!        and I were invited right into the workshop –
As an owner, you will be welcomed on the          no hard hat, no disclaimers – slippery floor
stand which is a good place to relax have a       and all. (What fun you can have when you
coffee, and enjoy a finger snack. You can         take the fear of being sued out of the equa-
also sit in the new cars and speak with the       tion. I am convinced this is why the Italians
factory officials.                                are such open and fun loving people. In
                                                  Italy consumer lawsuits are few and far
Remember the best times to go are on
                                                  between, it’s not even on their radar
Press days, so don’t forget to request your
                                                  screen. This could also be the reason for
credentials well in advance.
                                                  the way they drive.)
                                                  The Fattoria produces two types of oil. The
Chapter 5                                         first type is Laudemio which is produced
The Olive harvest in Tuscany                      under strict regulations of the Laudemio               Opposite page: The
It’s 68 degrees and sunny here in Florence        Consortium and is their “top of the line”              Olive harvest in
and it’s November 10th. With so much sun          brand. The Consortium, for example, will               Tuscany is a ritual
bathing the Tuscan hillside around Florence,      inspect, number and approve only certain               steeped in tradition
the olives have ripened quickly bringing on       trees and only the olives from these trees             and a feast to the
the much anticipated olive harvest.               will be allowed to be used. Trees must be              senses.
The olive was a native to Asia Minor and          located in a certain area as designated by
                                                                                                         Below: Fresh olive oil
spread from Iran, Syria and Palestine to the      the Consortium. Like Traditional Aceto
                                                                                                         is cold pressed and
rest of the Mediterranean basin 6,000 years       Balsamico of Modena, the Laudemio oil
                                                                                                         bottled at Fattoria (lit-
ago. The method of pressing the olives and        can only be sold in a special Consortium               tle farm) di Maiano
extracting the oil had remained the same          bottle and in very limited quantities. There           owned be the Corsini
for thousands of years, only today electric       are approximately 25 members of the                    family, an icon in
machines provide the power, as opposed            Laudemio Consortium. The second type,                  Florence.
to the oxen of years gone by.
We were invited to experience the harvest-
ing of the olives by one of Tuscany’s most
famous oil producers, Fattoria Di Maiano
which is located on 360 acres of some of
the most beautiful and, extremely valuable,
property in Tuscany. Located approximate-
ly four kilometers from central Florence in
the exclusive hills of Fiesole, the property is
home to the exceptional Villa Di Maiano
which dates to the 14th century. Today the
Villa is used as a conference center and for
corporate meetings. Not surprisingly the
Villa Di Maiano was used in the film, “A
Room with a View,” and more recently, “Tea
with Mussolini.” It was also used to debut
the Maserati Quattroporte 5 which was a
grand event, as you could imagine.
The Fattoria (a small farm) where the olive
oil is produced also has several apartments
for rent for the week or month, as well as
what we Americans would consider a fac-
tory outlet store and ristorante. It’s a great
place to experience the oil production,

                                                                                           Viale Ciro Menotti, Issue #89   I   165
                                  and by far the largest percentage of the oil        wild as I have ever experienced. The
                                  production, is their Fattoria Di Maiano             Piazzas were filled with people, and street
                                  brand.                                              vendors were selling Champaign and fire-
                                  Today we were watching the processing
                                  and production of their Fattoria Di Maiano          Fireworks appeared to be legal and loud
                                  brand. There is no way the photos can               explosions could be heard everywhere,
                                  transmit the sweet smell of the olive oil that      amplified and reverberating off of the 500
                                  fills the air in the production area. It was a      year old stone buildings. We walked over to
                                  very memorable experience.                          what I referred to as the second bridge,
                                                                                      two up from the Ponte Vecchio, and stood
                                                                                      in awe as people everywhere counted
                                                                                      down to midnight, Quattro – tre – due -
                                                                                      uno... then all hell broke loose with the
                                                                                      heavy artillery and sky burst. The Italians
                                                                                      really know how to bring in the New Year!
                                                                                      Seeing the sky light up over those beautiful
                                                                                      historic buildings was a sight to behold. I
                                                                                      was told that in Napoli the celebration is
                                                                                      extremely intense. According to several
                                                                                      Florentines I spoke with there is a tradition
                                                                                      in Napoli to look in the following day’s
                                                                                      newspaper where you see a long list of
                                                                                      fatalities and names of people with missing
                                                                                      fingers and gun shot wounds. After my
                                                                                      experience in Florence, I could believe it.

                                                                                      Chapter 7
Every twenty years 6                                                                  Father and Son take a Road Trip
to 10 inches of snow                                                                  With a little over two weeks to go before we
falls on Florence. We             Chapter 6                                           were scheduled to fly home and end our
were lucky to witness             Christmas and New Year’s in                         adventure we decided that my son Tony
this marvel of beauty             Florence                                            and I would go on a road trip to the South
as seen from our                                                                      of France, ultimately arriving in Marseilles to
                                  Christmas is a very special time in all of Italy,
apartment.                                                                            visit our friend and Maserati enthusiast
                                  but for us Florence, during this period, was
                                  especially charming. Each area of the city          Jean Guikas. Janet, on the other hand,
                                  was decked out with hanging lights                  would go to Paris for ten days with her
                                  arranged in a special design and all the            friend Robbin who had flown over from
                                  shops were decorated. The commercializa-            Seattle.
                                  tion of the holiday was not as pronounced           Tony and I headed off in our Mercedes A
                                  as we are used to seeing in the States, a           Class, driving down to Genoa, Savona,
                                  very welcome change.                                San Remo and onto Ventimiglia where we
                                  Being Catholic, we went to Midnight Mass            enjoyed lunch with Maserati enthusiasts
                                  on Christmas Eve in the famous church of            Hans and Heidi Wulfers. Hans and Heidi
                                  Santa Maria del Fiore (the Duomo). The              are the organizers of a really terrific
                                  sounds of the choir waffling through the            Maserati Rally well known to Europeans
                                  marbled archways and mammoth rotunda                and considered one of Europe’s finest
                                  was indeed a religious experience of the            Maserati events.
                                  first order.                                        Next Tony and I headed to Monte Carlo
                                  New Year’s Eve, on the other hand, was as           where every other car was a Ferrari, Rolls

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or Bentley. We hung out there for a couple
days taking in the sights before heading to
the lovely walled city of St. Paul duVence,
just outside of Nice. We stayed in the very
charming Hotel L’Abbaye and enjoyed din-
ner with my old friend and fellow Mercer                                                               From left Frank and
                                                                                                       Tony Mandarano, Heidi
Islander Craig Harvey who has been living
                                                                                                       and Hans Wulfers.
in St. Paul for over 30 years. The next day
Tony and I headed up to the walled city and                                                            Below: The Jean
a visit to the famous Modern Art Museum                                                                Guikas, Thepenier
Fondation Maeght. For you trivia buffs, the                                                            Competition Bora
Maeght is the most visited private museum                                                              Number 3001.
in France. While there, Tony and I contem-
plated the wacky works of Miro and the
unique fountain of Pol Bury.
Then it was off to Marseilles and a visit to
Jean’s incredible collection of cars. First
was the Ghibli and Daytona Coupe that his
father had purchased new from the factory
and was still in the family and not for sale.
Then, sitting lower and wider than I had
expected, I found myself face to face with
the actual Thepenier Competition Bora
Number 3001. Jean, a Maserati guy, was
proud to say that the car has been per-
forming very well and running fast com-
pared to the Ferraris it had been matched
up with.
Next was the most original 12 Cylinder
Cooper-Maserati in existence and Jean is
the second owner. This is an amazing car
with an amazing story which should be told
one day. The Cooper was raced at Monaco
and preformed very well two years ago dur-
ing the historic portion of the Grand Prix
which is held every other year. The his-         for the right reasons. It was good to see
toric cars will be back this year for those of   Jean whom I had met in Modena some 20
you going to Monaco.                             years ago. Tony and I packed up the
                                                 Mercedes A Class and headed off to our
I counted three Mistral Spyders, a very orig-
                                                 next stop – San Remo – on our way to
inal Mistral Coupe in excellent like new,
unrestored condition, two or three Ghibli
Spyders, a Khamsin, and some stunning            We arrived in Modena and checked into
Ferrari racing and GT cars such as two           the Canalgrande Hotel. The next three days
LMs, a one off Daytona Targa... the list         we visited the Maserati Factory where Tony
goes on.                                         and I received a full-on tour of the assem-
During lunch at a very local and typical         bly line and were welcomed into the exec-
French – what else – restaurant, Jean            utive offices for some quality discussions
expressed his passion for fine Italian cars      and debriefings with management.
which left no doubt in my mind that he           Next was a visit with Matteo Panini and the
owns, drives and cares for these machines        wonderful Maserati collection and, let’s not

                                                                                         Viale Ciro Menotti, Issue #89   I   167
                                  forget, the world class cheese Matteo and        Chapter 8
                                  his father Umberto produce. Tony and I
                                  loaded up on cheese and some of the
                                                                                   The Pack up and Return
                                                                                   Nobody thought it would all fit into the
                                  Panini’s excellent balsamic vinegar.
                                                                                   crate, but it did! Everything we had brought
                                  Next on our list was Lamborghini where we        with us to Italy and more went into a crate
                                  arrived just in time for a coffee in the staff   about the size of what you’d would expect
                                  lunchroom and a walk through of the facto-       a Harley Davidson to arrive in.
                                  ry, ending in the Museum. There were sev-
                                                                                   We rented a Renault Scenic van, filled it to
                                  eral other visits in and around Modena and,
                                                                                   the brim with our luggage, said our good-
                                  all to soon, it was time to pack up the
                                                                                   byes and headed off to Milan for two nights
                                  Mercedes and head South to Bologna and
                                                                                   and then the 8:00 a.m. flight to London and
                                  onto Florence, where in one more week it
                                                                                   onto Seattle.
                                  would be time to head home to Seattle.
                                                                                   Reflecting on our trip, we all agree it was an
                                                                                   experience of a lifetime. Expensive, yes, but
                                                                                   well worth it. It meant so much in so many
                                                                                   different ways. Tony attended the
                                                                                   International School of Florence as a 10th
                                                                                   grader and received excellent grades. His
                                                                                   School was located up on the hill overlook-
                                                                                   ing the historic center near Piazzale
                                                                                   Michelangelo and in a beautiful Tuscan
                                                                                   Villa. Most mornings Janet would drive
                                                                                   Tony to school (they referred to this as a
                                                                                   Rally) and, while doing so, enjoyed a very
                                                                                   special time together. Trust me, you have
                                                                                   not experienced driving until you’ve been in
                                                                                   rush hour traffic in Florence.

The Corsini archives
that date back to the
eleventh Century.

168   I   Viale Ciro Menotti, Issue #89
                                                                                                    CAR GUY MOVES
                                                                                                    TO ITALY

The question most often asked... Do we
miss Italy? Yes, we do, some parts of it
more than others. Do we plan to go back?
Yes. Do we miss the Italian bureaucracy?
NO! Simple things can take days or weeks
like getting a bank account or going to the
post office.
Of course, the wonderful food is a given,
but the warmth of the people and quality of
their work product is truly commendable
and noteworthy.
Take for instance Carlo and Pino, the two
baristas at our local bar “Bar Curtatone.”
They do a first class job making coffee for                                                           Photos, opposite page:
all the people who come in on a regular                                                               Our local bar (Bar
basis. They know their customers and                                                                  Curtatone) turned out to
know what they want. After a few weeks                                                                be one of Florence’s
Carlo and Pino recognized me as a regular                                                             best. All the cab drivers
and would simply make my doppio mac-                                                                  went there. From the
chiato with a little extra scuma (foam) just                                                          left Carlo and the right
                                                                                                      Pino two great barista’s.
the way I liked it. Try that at Starbucks!
Or the two sisters drycleaners (my given                                                              Below: The two sisters
name) who always wanted to talk to me in                                                              dry cleaners, as they
Italian (bless their hearts). They had no                                                             fondly became known
computer but always managed to have my                                                                as, did a beautiful job
                                                                                                      on my shirts, but their
shirts and pantaloni (pants) folded and
                                                                                                      hours of operation were
wrapped and ready. It was a pleasure and                                                              an ongoing
frustrating all at the same time. They were                                                           puzzle.
wonderful ladies who took great pride in
their work, but I never knew when they
were open. Italians, as you might imagine,
have very odd hours. Oh they posted their
hours, but those were last years.                  A word about “The Guy” Syndrome
                                                   Whenever two or more Car Guys get together, they invariably begin
Come to think of it... that’s Italy. A country     discussing what cars the company should or should not make.
of sweet and sour, amazing and distressing         They become self-anointed design critics and planning experts all
all at once. A country of a thousand laws          wrapped into one. This author is no exception and must be includ-
and no rules. A country with some of the           ed in this ancient ritual. The discussion usually moves in the direc-
world’s greatest designers, yet the banks          tion of who has the most inside information. The game is to be rec-
only have brown checks stapled together            ognized as “The Guy.”
and handed out in batches of ten. Where
the men are held up as macho, and the              Who and what then is “The Guy.” He is the all knowing, all impor-
“look” – bella figura (beautiful figure) – is of   tant… a Technician, Engineer, Historian and Philosopher all
utmost importance (even if it’s beyond their       wrapped up into one. “The Guy” is a person who has recently
means). The Italian “Mamma” runs the               talked to someone high up in The Company (or so he thinks) and
show and under no uncertain terms, what            is usually referred to as a reliable source.
the Italian “Mamma” says goes.                     Take, for example, a salesman at the local dealership. The “Guy”
Did I tell you the story about getting our car     gets what he thinks is inside information on what the “Company” is
towed... next time. I                              planning for the future from the salesman, thus transforming him for
                                                   the moment into “The Guy.”

                                                                                          Viale Ciro Menotti, Issue #89   I   169

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