GALLERY: Climbing Italy In Search Of Crisp Mountain Air In The Summer Marathon
Photography by Rosario Liberti
If you own a classic car that you’ve ascribed any kind of value to—monetary, sentimental, or otherwise—and you don’t live in a perpetually dry part of the planet like Los Angeles or the Sahara, then there’s a good chance you store it somewhere safe and sound during the many months of the year that threaten our precious metal with moisture that at worst takes the form of a clod of salt-infused muddy snow tucked up nicely in a blocked drainage channel in the rocker panel… We lament the winter months when it comes to the (in)ability to enjoy our cars (sliding an old manual-gearbox rear-wheel drive around in the snow is undoubtedly a good time, but one that comes at a price), so the fact that continental Europe has a super bloom of classic car events during the summer makes sense—pent up sports cars with no where to run need an outlet at some point.
One can find a niche-exhausting degree of variety in the shows and drives and festivals to take part in or spectate during the summer months, and while the calendar’s anchoring events like the Festival of Speed or the Silverstone Classic draw the biggest crowds and the most revered automobiles, I’ve found that those types of meetings can feel formulaic after enough exposure to them over the years. I’m not saying the chance to see something like a 917 in front of the Goodwood House isn’t something worth being excited about, it’s just that I prefer the lower-key affairs. Italy’s Summer Marathon, a three-day regularity race/concours hybrid held in the country’s Alps, recently completed its 7th edition, and having been there I can vouch for it living up to the potential you’ve created in your head. Alpine Italy: navigating hairpins and sweepers next to snowy peaks in one moment, crawling over cobblestones and through back alleys of quaint mountain villages the next. If you enjoy classic cars, exploring Europe, and staying off of straight roads, this is something to consider if you have the chance.
Participants ranged across continents and decades—in both the automotive and human sense—and the mixed and matched group was a joy to photograph over the course of the driving days and wanderings about town. From Castrol-liveried Celicas bringing a true rallying component to the regularity rally, to beautiful boat-tail Duettos, 911 Targas, and a smattering of British roadsters offering a a drop-top view of the 1960s, the entry list covered a lot of ground.
We made ascents and descents dozens of times per day, visited both quaint and majestic plazas devoid of touristic mobs like so many other places in Italy, and throughout all of it we were blessed with beautiful blue skies all the way to the summits—and of course, a nice break from the heat of sea level! If there were ever a sweet-spot for classic car ownership there’s a good case to be made about the autumn being kindest in terms of temperature and humidity, and that’s convincing enough, but there’s nothing like the length of summer to really pack in the highest volume of internal combustion fun. Just remember, while all the big events are going on in quick succession this season, there are tons of smaller-scale activities that are often offering something even more memorable than the views seen on thousands of other smartphones.