You've probably heard of the Beer Italia - that glorious galivant to the supercar factories of Italy which we were all set to launch in 2020. Well, as with so many things planned for that car crash of a year, the Beer Italia's launch didn't quite work out. And neither did it in '21 either, thanks to the continuing issues with our type of travel. But next year is already looking different. Next year, the omens are that between the 18th and 26th June, we're finally going to Italy. Here's a day-by-day rundown of what we have planned for the third-time-lucky, almost fully booked, inaugural Beer Italia, which you can still reserve a place on, if you're quick:
Day One – The plan is to leave Dover on the Saturday morning, so we can reach the half-timbered street fronts of Troyes – our first overnight stop – in decent time. There will be several options for the drive to Troyes, ranging from a straightforward blast down the autoroute (to maximise time to explore Troyes in the evening), to a more rustic path, which gives the option of visiting a variety of sites en-route, ranging from the battlefield of Vimy Ridge and the remains of a German V3 fortress near Calais, to the French Air and Space Museum.
Day Two – From Troyes, we’ll be taking a scenic, cross country route south to Beaune, where there are several points of interest. Firstly, this fortified old town is one of the best places in France for wine tasting, or bulk-buying Burgundy from the many cellars; a fact which will probably sit well with those who aren’t driving the following stint. But what if you’re not into wine? Well, in that case I’m sure a chateau with 110 preserved jet fighter planes in its grounds, and a variety of other collections ranging from vintage motorbikes to Abarth racing cars will suffice?
From Beaune, we’ll be heading on through the French countryside to the first mountain roads of the trip, in the Jura Alps. Here we’ll be hitting our first hairpins and gaining our first views over the high mountains which will be dominating the following day’s drive, before we drop down to Chamonix – the most evocative mountain town on the planet – and spend the night in the shadow of Mt Blanc.
Other options for interesting places to visit on the day’s drive include the cheese factories at Poligny, and potentially, the CERN particle accelerator. Or if you’d prefer, you could just get the hammer down to Chamonix and spend a bit more time there, taking in the sights.
Day Three – This day is all about the driving, as we get to grips with the Alps proper, en-route to Turin. And there are several options for the drive, ranging from a mammoth, seven hour day taking in four of the most famous high passes in the Alps – The Grand St Benardo (as seen at the start of The Italian Job), Petit St Bernardo, Col d’Iseran and Col du Mont Cenis – to a more relaxed route which misses out the Grand St Benardo by passing through the Mt Blanc tunnel before giving you an option of either enjoying the other two passes, or maximising time off the road by heading straight to Turin, freeing up enough time in the day to either take the cable car up to the Aguille du Midi above Chamonix in the morning, or get to Turin in time for lunch and a lazy afternoon of sightseeing.
Day Four – This day begins in one of the world’s great automotive cities, and as such, offers the chance to check out Italy’s National Automobile Museum, visit the locations where The Italian Job was filmed, or simply forget about cars for the morning and immerse yourself in some Italian café culture, before hitting the road on our final leg to Modena.
Days Five and Six – Having arrived in Modena on the Tuesday, we’ll be staying for two nights to give us the chance to truly explore the supercar culture which exists in this part of Italy. Both the Enzo Ferrari museum in Modena and the Ferrari museum in Maranello are on the list, and coach tours around Ferrari's factory and test track are also a possibility, along with Lamborghini’s museum and the Maserati collection at their Modena showroom. So, there’s plenty of opportunity for us to get our fill of supercars before we head north, back into the mountains, after lunch on the Thursday.
That afternoon, we’ll be taking in one of the most famous roads of the trip – a twisting strip of tarmac which runs along the shore of Lake Garda and was made famous in the opening sequence of the Bond film, Quantum of Solace, before spending the night among the Dolomites, provisionally in the town of Trento.
Day Seven – If you thought the day spent on the high passes to the south of Chamonix was the driving highlight of the trip, think again. On the Friday, we’re planning to take in two of the highest passes in the Alps – the Stelvio (Also known as ‘the best driving road in the world’), and the Gavia pass. Between them, these two roads represent a definite highlight of the trip and will take us back over the Alps and up to our overnight stop in the vicinity of Lake Constance/northern Switzerland.
Day Eight – The home run begins in earnest, but that doesn’t mean the entertainment ends. Quite the opposite, in fact. Once again there will be a variety of different options for the day’s drive. These will range from further driving road good times across Germany’s Black Forest and a lunch-stop in the pretty town of Colmar, to the opportunity to check out further car museums, ranging from the Cite de l’automobile, or a small museum in Basel, dedicated to Monteverdi. The day ends with a haul up to the famous city of Reims, in France’s Champagne country. And given the champagne connection, I’m sure you can guess what the evening’s entertainment will be.
Day Nine – It’s time to head home folks. But before we do, we’ll be taking our rather spiffing convoy out to the former Grand Prix circuit at Reims-Gueux, for what I expect will be a rather sweet photo-opportunity. Then, it’s time to head up to Calais and catch a mid-afternoon ferry back to Blighty…
...and so will end the inaugural Beer Italia. Sounds good, doesn't it? There's further info on the official trip page here, and if you're tempted to join the trip, or if you have any further questions, feel free to get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org