On the first driving day of the Grande Giro celebrating Lamborghini’s 50th anniversary, I was grateful for the lunch they'd laid for us in the mountain village of Bobbio, because on the wiggly way down to the Mediterranean coast in our 2013 Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera we ended up behind an old, oil-burning Countach. Squeezing the Gallardo’s Alacantara-wrapped wheel, I was feeling queasy. And the Gallardo itself hardly helped. It stuck so well in all the tight corners, I might as well have been on a midway ride.
But then we reached the autostrada, and brief bursts of 120 mph in the company of an Aventador, on top of steadier runs at exactly 100 mph, cleared everything up.
With much fanfare, the Grande Giro had commenced at 10 a.m. in Milan’s Piazza Castello, which is just around the corner from La Scala, the famed opera house. We followed a white Diablo roadster out of town, with some middle-aged Miuras ahead. The Miura introduced the midengined supercar layout to the world, and going down the road, it still looks sophisticated and advanced, although any of these contemporary monsters can devour it in a gulp. And in our case, the Gallardo sounded all mean about it and obviously preferred its Miuras raw.
The 50th-birthday procession included everything from the 350 GT and 400 GT 2+2, which were Ferruccio Lamborghini’s attempt to show Enzo Ferrari how a roadgoing Gran Turismo should be done, to an LM002 ground-pounding SUV, the misbegotten attempt to add relevance in the company’s era of Chrysler ownership. No matter what we drove, the Bobbionians went bonkers. The old village was all bedecked for an upcoming festival, and schoolkids waited to yell the clichéd “Bella macchina!” along with the more up-to-date “Woo-hoo!”
Eventually, everybody came back to earth. And in the Grande Giro, the earth near the Mediterranean coast presents Carrara, the marble-producing center. Huge cavities are in the nearby hills, and massive blocks of stone are stored in commercial yards between the road and shore. At mild and mossy Forte dei Marmi, where the day’s run ended, the business of exporting large quantities of marble goes back to the 18th century. Tourism began to develop here in the 19th. Now there’s a bunch of Lambos displayed overnight.
What a day of driving in the Gallardo, a car to die for; of food in a village that stole my heart; and of scenery, with trees abloom with whites and pastels, with slopes splotched with meadows amid woods, and mountaintops crowned with crags. Tonight, hundreds of people are grateful to Feruccio Lamborghini for daring to make a car. I'm thrilled to be behind the wheel of one for three more days of the Grande Giro.