Official Sparkling Wine to the ‘world’s most beautiful race’, this year, the Brescia DOCG is taking part in the historical re-enactment which passes through the Lake Iseo area
‘A mad, exhausting, unbroken race through countryside and towns, over mountains and along the sea, day and night. Strips of road winding along under roaring engines, eyes which never sleep, faces that never waver and drivers with nerves of steel.’
It was 8 in the morning on 26 March 1927 when Aymo Maggi, Franco Mazzotti, Giovanni Canestrini and Renzo Castagneto wrote this piece of Italian history, crowning a dream fed by a passion for cars with deep roots in the DNA of the Brescia area and its people. After hosting Italy’s first grand prix, Gran Premio d’Italia, in 1921 on Circuito della Fascia d’Oro (also known as Circuito di Montichiari and Circuito di Brescia), the Leonessa d’Italia was not discouraged when the race was transferred to the Monza racetrack the following year. The founding of Automobile Club di Brescia in the autumn of 1926 laid the foundations for the birth of ‘the world’s most beautiful race’, as Enzo Ferrari called it, all the same.
The race’s soul, Brescia is both starting point and finishing line for a race which crosses northern and central Italy to Rome, a journey of around 1600 kilometres, equivalent to one thousand miles, hence the race’s name. After twenty-four regular editions between 1927 and 1957 the Freccia Rossa returned to its former glory in the form of a historical re-enactment in 1977 and since then the race has been open only to cars made before 1957 which took part in or signed up to the ‘original’ race. And one of these is the 1955 Fiat 1100 TV SPIDER which is travelling along Italian roads this year to promote Franciacorta, another Brescia Made in Italy symbol worldwide.
The Brescia-Rome-Brescia journey began on Tuesday 13 June from Viale Venezia, in accordance with tradition, following in the footsteps of the four friends (except for a few variants). As far as Rome this Franciacorta ‘brand’ vintage car was driven by radio and TV presenter Giorgia Surina, with a Cervia-Milano Marittima stage before the official line-up on Via Veneto on 14 June. On Thursday 14 June the baton passed to Italian actor Giuseppe Maggio, who drove the Fiat from the capital to Milan, stopping in Parma for the race’s third night. The closing kilometres were Gresy Daniilidis’s, who brought the race to an end after stopping in at Bergamo, Italian Culture Capital this year together with Brescia. The Italian-Greek digital entrepreneur also drove the route which passed through the heart of the homeland of this Brescia DOCG wine.
Whilst it differs from the original in some ways, the Freccia Rossa is still a prestigious and much sought after brand globally, and has inspired other independent initiatives taking the Brescia name all over the world, from the American Friends of Mille Miglia Club to the Japanese Mille Miglia Party and the Mil Millas Sport de la República Argentina. And it was all the brainchild of Renzo Castagneto.
The 1000 Miglia’s deus ex machina did everything he could right from the start to ensure that Brescia offered side events in support of the race, decorating the town with the Freccia Rossa’s colours on flags, banners, torches and lights. The atmosphere Castagneto wanted, and the international scope of its guests, made Brescia the capital of global motoring (at least for a week), creating an extraordinary cultural fervour. Because the ultimate aim of the race was about much more than cars, as musketeer Canestrini has ‘confessed’: ‘demonstrating that our country’s current roads can be travelled in the cars normally sold at high average speeds with a certain safety and constancy… our task was thus to give the race a technical and social but also – why not? – tourist tone.’
This is also the Franciacorta spirit, as another symbol of Italian excellence and craftsmanship honouring the area and the country as a whole.