Rapallo to Maranello and the excellent SS1
It would be a shame to jump from the Portofino area to Modena without mentioning this great road. It begins at sea level and offers an alternative to the autostrada if you're heading towards La Spezia. It gradually climbs, hugging the coastline and offering great views of both the Mediterranean and the Italian Liguria countryside, as it winds its way slightly inland to the high point: the 'Passo del Bracco' at 615m. We didn't even know there was a pass here until Sarah found it on the map while we worked our way around the hillsides.
There are sections that pass through villages so you may see the odd car, but most of the traffic bypasses these villages via the autostrada. We only caught up one car on this 15 mile stretch and that was a family squeezed into a pristine but tiny original Fiat 500 (see the movie further down...). It was funny to see the kids faces glued to the rear window to watch what was following them and when they pulled over to let us past, we made sure they got a wave and some noise from the Italian V8.
The SS1 is wide, well surfaced and can be thoroughly enjoyed without hitting breakneck speeds. In fact, there are some sections that'll be enjoyed at only 30 or 40mph. The view of the road ahead is generally good and the seemingly endless procession of twists and turns should put a smile on your face. It was however, the first time we'd been here and we didn't know the road at all so on our trip, it was driven at a reasonably modest pace. The Ferrari felt right at home though and it gave us a first real taste of why the 360 F1 is so good, the paddle shift manual gearbox shining on the kind of road for which it was made.
It was a shame to drop back onto the autostrada that would take us around the outskirts of La Spezia, joining first the A15 northbound for a short time towards Parma before reaching our exit at Aulla. We left the A15 and began heading northeast on the SS63 through the Tuscany countryside in the general direction of Modena. We were edging ever closer to 'Supercar Valley' and tonight, we'd be having dinner in the highly regarded Montana restaurant in Maranello (or more precisely Fiorano), a stones throw from the Ferrari test circuit.
Here we have just a quick couple of minutes of footage taken from the GoPro camera. We even have a cameo appearance from the little Fiat 500!