Visit The Automotive Gathering In Florence That You Won’t Find In The Guidebook
Photography by Allen Dumler
If you are searching for la Dolce Vita in Italy, Tuscany is the place to go. Especially the city of Florence, oft regarded as the center of art, culture, architecture, and everything else that makes Tuscany so beloved. And of course, there’s plenty of good wine, let’s not forget that, and the vineyards in the valley form the views of the postcard landscape.
Florence by itself is a piece of art set in stone. No matter where you turn you’ll see an eye for incredible detail, precision, and craftsmanship in the historic center. This city just captivates you, and you can’t escape it in the best sense of the phrase. But it’s also hard to give this beautiful place all the credit it deserves—one would need an advanced art history degree to even attempt it I’d imagine—and just thinking about how many great people transformed the shape of this city time and time again is enough to leave one feeling quite small.
One such sculptor (and painter, and engineer, etc.) was Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni. Michelangelo sympathized with the Florentine Republic against the interest of his sponsors, the infamously wealthy Medici family, and it ensured his legacy saw him as one of the city’s greatest artists and as well as a patriotically loyal supporter of the people who lived there. Today’s residents take great pride in Michelangelo’s artistic achievements and otherwise, and it’s fitting that the most beautiful place in Florence would be named after him: the Piazzale Michelangelo. You can enjoy some excellent panoramic scenery up there any day of the week, but certain visitors on the weekends shift the attention inwards to the Piazzale parking area.
Like clockwork, the local petrolheads meet up to chat over coffees and show off their interpretations of taste and style in motoring. There are plenty of Alfas as you’d expect and hope at an address like this one, but there are some “left-fielders” here too, like the World Rally Blue Subaru WRX STi that appeared one morning. It’s not the only all-wheel drive mudslinger though, for it’s rare to not see at least one variation of Lancia’s souped-up Delta.
Paraphrasing the quote of Enzo Ferrari, that race cars are neither beautiful nor ugly, but that they become beautiful when they win, seems to be the ultimate guideline for Italian car enthusiasts here, as much of what they bring has some connection to racing. The vehicles that cannot keep up with that pedigree are simply excused through good design—you don’t need to be fast to be pretty after all.
As always, the cars that gather weekly at the Piazzale play a big role in connecting people. No matter if you’re old, young, which part of the city or surrounding countryside you’re from, all borders seem to be torn down in the presence of the good old internal combustion engine surrounded by steel and aluminum. Arrogance is nowhere to be found, and in fact the car owners are often delighted to receive questions from any background, and as we all know it is quite fun to get a positive reaction to the car you’re driving. Those visiting the city are more likely to appreciate the aesthetic side of life, and surely cars like the Sprint Speciale command as much attention as the next gorgeous Italian sculpture.
It’s all about sharing this other part of culture and art that includes that little bit of practicability called transportation. The most beautiful thing to see though, was how quickly this shared passion led to inclusion; collective smiles and downright happiness abound.
Every trip to Florence should include a weekend excursion to the Piazzale Michelangelo if you’re looking for a nice set of cars, or just a nice sweeping view of the city. It’s not the biggest venue for a classic car meet, but it’s surely one of the prettiest.