On today’s leg of Lamborghini’s 50th-birthday Grande Giro, it became evident we were finally nearing central Rome by the engine covers that were lifted up on the Miuras parked curbside. Initially a green one, and then a couple of others in their Popsicle colors, were victims of overheating. This is my first visit to Rome, but traffic is every bit as gruesome as I’d heard since I was a kid in the 1960s. Good thing that my Gallardo didn’t come close to overheating while creeping along, and visibility was fine, so it was easy to maneuver the car. But every sweaty soul bunkered inside a Countach must have regretted our 5 p.m. arrival in the capital.
We had started the day up the Mediterranean coast at Forte dei Marmi, the seaside resort. The morning held a mix of very slow going on local routes and very fast going on the autostrada, with a side trip to Pisa. Judging by the number of tourists and all the postcards and trinkets being sold, we might have been near the Leaning Tower, but I missed it because of taking Lamborghini pictures. The Grosseto airbase hosted us for lunch. Americans flew P-47 Thunderbolts out of here during the latter part of World War Two; now the Italian Air Force keeps their Typhoon fighters at this facility. For the first time every Grande Giro participant got an unobstructed view of all the cars, which led to comments like, “There may never be this many Lamborghinis together ever again.” It was entrancing. One surprise was the nasty-looking and -sounding 1972 Jarama S Bob Wallace Special, which I couldn’t help thinking belonged in the Trans Am Series of old.
My Gallardo is a sweet thing to drive. The sporty yellow-and-black leather interior with Alcantara-wrapped wheel buoyed me all day long, and when traffic came to a stop, which happened a whole lot, even in the afternoon, I would absently reach up and stroke the quilted leather headliner. By contrast, when the fast lane opened, I flicked the paddle shifter down to select fourth and then fifth and went howling up to 120 mph before nailing sixth—as fast as I dare on the autostrada with the center divider just a couple of feet to the left (no margin whatsoever) and a truckload of something—Jeeps, olive oil, marble, it just depends—in the right lane. Usually, I was with Murcielagos, Aventadors, and the odd brash Countach. And often, by coincidence, I was at the head of this line. So I was careful, keeping an eye out for the Grande Giro signs that might redirect us, and trying not to be a menace to the people of Italy; yet it was exhilarating, and in fact, revivifying in the way that only driving a great car can be. And this is a great car.