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Archive for November, 2011

Italy 4, automobili

The art in Italy is all-world, no doubt about it.  The architecture, the food, the fashion?  Unbelievable.  But, I’m more of a science guy.  I’m a bit more interested in my transportation to the museum and pizzeria than what’s inside of those buildings.  Italy has my back in this regard.  An hour north of Florence is Modena, ground zero of Italy’s automobile industry speciale.  We’re talking the motherload.  Ferrari, Maserati, Lamborghini, Pagani, and at one point, Bugatti.  Ducati builds their redonkulous bikes here as well.  Fiat and Alfa are farther north, in Turin, but they don’t really make anything special.  We did rent a proper little Alfa to storm the countryside during our stay.  When in Rome, and all that.  We borrowed a 2-liter, diesel-powered Giulietta.  Think VW Golf.  Nice car for sure, but hardly a product of the Emilia-Romagna region.  Just south of Modena are the municipalities of Maranello and Fiorano Modenese.  It’s where good things happen in the world of motor sport.  Maranello is the home of Scuderia Ferrari, the Formula One team.  It’s also the home to the Ferrari factory, the facility that produced Justin Bieber’s road car.  Good for Justin Bieber, but really?  Old-man Enzo is rolling over in his grave.  During the buying process, Ferrari should have a guy that decides whether you’re serious, or full of shit.  Those who are full of shit should be referred to Lamborghini.  Justin Bieber should have been referred to Lamborghini.  All I’m looking for here is a rudimentary awareness of something Ferrari.  Anything: the history, the process, the philosophy.  “I think they’re dope as hell” is not an acceptable answer.

The team and factory are on the Maranello side of its border with Fiorano.  Ferrari’s private test track is in Fiorano, and is cleverly named Fiorano Circuit, or Pista di Fiorano.  There’s your ballgame.  Forget the lovely Ferrari museum or the bus ride around the factory campus.  You visit Maranello hoping to catch a glimpse of the Scuderia shaking down F1 cars.  There are no bleachers and there’s no viewing vista.  You climb a fence and sit in a tree…with the 50 other nutters that have been there since 8am.  It’s magnifico.

90 minutes northwest of Maranello puts us back in Milan.  20 minutes north of Milan, is Monza.  The Autodromo Nazionale Monza is a 85 year-old grand prix circuit built in the middle of a giant park, twice the size of Central Park.  Monza is, by far, the oldest venue on the current F1 schedule, and Ferrari’s home race.  While F1 continues its trend toward new, GP-specific super-circuits, the old track cut through the trees in the Villa Reale di Monza remains a fan-favorite.  Though she may find it challenging to admit, I think even Sue was able to recognize that the kidding around was pretty much over as Fernando Alonso came through the Ascari Chicane on his way to the grid to start the Italian GP.  It was as if Oprah just instructed her audience to look under their seats for the keys to their door prize, only the tearful screaming was coming from grown men.  The place went bat-shit crazy.  For good measure, Alonso yanked a rossa rabbit out of his ass at the start to take the lead into turn 1, as if to say: ‘Mike Anzaldi, you came all the way here from the States to see me race…here is my gift to you.’  Thanks man.  I’ll take mild cardiac-arrest in exchange for watching a single-seat Ferrari take the lead at Monza any time.

Alsonso heading through Ascari.

Felipe Massa.

Jensen Button in his sick whip, the McLaren MP4-26.

World Champ Sebastian Vettel under the old, banked oval.

World Championship winning Ferraris at Galleria Ferrari, Maranello.

New Maseratis awaiting delivery.

Testing a 458 Italia at Fiorano.

 

 

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Italy 3, Florence

What’s not to love about Firenze?

You got your Michelangelo Buonarroti, your Galileo Galilei, Botticelli, Brunelleschi, Machiavelli, Gucci.  Lot’s of cool names ending in “I”.  Hell, da Vinci started painting the Mona Lisa 500 years ago in Florence.  Plus, you have this oddly famous Cupid mime tickling the tourists.

Part of the above image has been obscured so as to protect the identity of this handbag shopper.

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Italy 2, Milan

Milan was great fun.  Lots going on there and by far the most modern/urban of the few Italian cities I’ve visited.  I only made it out one evening to make a few pictures, as daytime hours were wasted away watching F1 cars tear around Monza, and eating.  It’s the kind of place you could easily spend days or weeks exploring without getting bored.  So, very much the opposite of say, Vegas.  Though this picture below proves a bit of attitude.  Giant ads on the side of the Milan Cathedral?  Everything’s for sale, apparently.

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II.

I don’t speak the language, but the message here was clear.  The tall one in the short skirt thought the short one in the short skirt was being a bitch, period.

Prada appears to be making clothes for faceless white people.

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Italy 1, Liguria

I’m just now noticing that this space hasn’t been updated in a while.  So, since my blog host doesn’t seem to offer an automatic update feature, I’ll have to do this manually.  How antiquated.

Seeing that mainstream media is so heavily celebrating men who lead with their penises, I choose to recognize Italy’s Prime Minster, the Honorable Silvio Berlusconi.  This fuckin’ guy.  Now, I’m typically a big fan of all things Italian.  In fact, I’ve been happy to overlook a lot of really offensive happenings in Italy over the years just because it’s Italy.  The decades of political jackassery, the soccer match-fixing fiasco, the Catholic church.  Don’t even get me started on the 1984 Ferrari Testarossa.  But, Berlusconi takes the cannoli.  This guy was raging at sex parties and inviting hookers to go on jet rides around Europe.  He’s accused of bribery, tax fraud, hookering and general political corruption.  One of the hookers was 17, wink-wink, nod-nod.  Talk about style.  He’s like the honey badger of head’s of state.  “Berlusconi don’t care.  Berlusconi takes what he wants.”

Now that you have Italy on the brain, I’m going to hammer you with vacation snaps that in no way support anything I’ve written to this point.  That’s right.  Vacation snaps.  More than that, this is going to be a multi-part series of random things I pointed my camera at while vacationing 150 miles east of the south of France.  I would have never bothered, but I just read that the Italian Riviera/Liguria was hammered by rain and flooding before Halloween, causing death and destruction in the very places Sue and I returned to 10 years after being married.  How did I miss this?  Perhaps I need to go deeper into the interweb than NHL.com.  Anyway, Genova took it on the chin, as did the Cinque Terre, particularly Monterosso and Vernazza (two northern-most villages we visited in September).  If you’ve been, word.  If not, listen to what everyone keeps telling you about their experience, and go.  Well, maybe not now, but soon.

I’m as happy to share these as I was to snap them.  Today, its images from the coast.  Three more parts will follow: Milan, Florence and the Italian Grand Prix…duh.

A view from above Vernazza.

Vernazza, now drenched, but drying.

Santa Margarita (above and below).


Portofino.

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