A Journey Back To Where It All Began...

A Journey Back To Where It All Began...

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Superleg48

Original Poster:

740 posts

80 months

Tuesday 5th November
quotequote all
I decided as part of my 50th Birthday celebrations, that I would quite like to do a road trip. Not just any road trip, but a road trip in my LP570-4 Superleggera. This is a special car to me, as it represents the realisation of an aspiration that I held since I was 8 years old. I had the classic Countach poster on my bedroom wall back then and resolved that one day I would own a Lamborghini. I realised that aspiration in 2016, some 39 years later! I wanted to visit the Lamborghini Factory in Sant’ Agata and thought that it would be rude to do so in anything other than a Lamborghini, my Lamborghini.

My first challenge was selling this concept to my wife. As the Gentlemen amongst us will be aware, there are certain essentials that need to be taken account of, when your good lady wife travels. Such can’t do withouts as an array of alchemical potions and lotions, creams and perfumes, hair straighteners, outfits for every eventuality and back up outfits for those same eventualities (to provide choice), shoes, kitchen sinks and so forth. Usually this involves at least two suitcases bordering on the hold luggage weight limit for most airlines and that would render any prospect of taking a car, the luggage space for which is pretty non existent, an impossibility.

The challenge was accepted and graciously too. Well, it was for my 50th Birthday celebrations, so I did have the emotional advantage! I am pushing my luck though, as my birthday was back in June! Anyway, we were on!

I set about planning the route. We had 7 days to do this in. The deal was that there had to be something in it for her (apart from the thrill of cruising around Europe in a Lambo, of course) I set a route that included a few days in Venice, a city my wife had never been to but always wanted to. In that time we would have to travel from Norfolk down to Eurotunnel Folkestone, over to France, down through Northern Italy to Sant’ Agata and on to Venice. The return leg would take us back up to Switzerland, into France and on to Calais, where we would take the ferry for old time’s sake back to Dover and on to home. Quite a trek, but on paper at least would work. The route map is below:



So, the planning done, hotels booked, toll tags received (no queuing for me!) and various other preparations complete, it came to the day of departure. Quite amazingly, we managed to condense everything into 4 smallish bags and a Mary Poppins-esque handbag…alas without the standard lamp. Well, not amazingly for me, as I would have happily travelled with a tooth brush and a credit card…but you know, there are those essentials! This is what we ended up with:



And this is the car all packed and ready to go: (excuse for gratuitous car pic – plenty more of those to come)



We had 2 cases (Airline cabin bag sized cases) on the little shelf behind the seats in the cabin and the two soft hold all type bags in the frunk, or bucket that doubles as the “Boot”. A reasonable array of alchemical potions, hair straighteners and some outfits were accommodated after all! Plus, such accoutrements as warning triangles, spare oil, fire extinguisher, rad weld?, first aid kit, etc etc. It did surprise me actually, how much you can fit in a Gallardo if you have a little imagination and the right type of cases. More on this later…

Sunday afternoon and we were off! The trip to our first overnight stop in the delightful Folkestone went surprisingly well, no hold ups to speak of. Even the Dartford crossing was flowing nicely. We were to set off around 8am on Monday morning for an 08:40 train.

The next morning we arrived at Eurotunnel and duly boarded the train. We had a fairly long drive ahead of us to our second overnight stop near Lyon in a place called Bourg en Bresse in South Eastern France. We were loaded into a high vehicles carriage, which was great as the carriage lane is wider to accommodate coaches. We ended up at the front of a carriage section. Behind us was a breakdown van (not superstitious at all, but…..) and behind that was a Rolls Royce Cullinan on its way to a Dutch dealer for a press type event. I had never seen a Cullinan in the flesh and this thing was just majestic opulence in the extreme. It was like an ocean liner on wheels! Here we are on the train:



Once we arrived in France, we were disgorged from the train and the open Autoroute beckoned. So many horror stories on here about over zealous Gendarmarie meant that I had my GPS speedometer primed and ready. I figured if I sat at about 140kmh, I would be ok (So far so good since returning..but checking the mail daily!). The Autoroutes in France are simply amazing infrastructure. The road surfaces are usually like glass they are so smooth, they are free of traffic (at least at this time of year) and enable you to cover long distances with ease. They really put our Motorway network to shame. You do pay for the privilege of using them, but money well spent, I say. The Toll Tag was an enlightened idea, as we sailed through toll gates. I must admit, I was worried about the first one, as to whether the thing would work and whether I would be that Ros Beef in his flash yellow Lamborghini stuck at toll gate, blocking the local Onion Traders from getting on with their day…but all was well.

The car revelled in the joy of sitting at around 90mph eating up mile after mile after mile. We had the foresight to bring a couple of cushions with us, which when placed between the small of your back and the bottom of the back of the carbon backed bucket seat, meant that actually we were quite comfortable and backache was kept at bay, despite 6-8 hour driving days on some days.

Another gratuitous picture at a service station on the Autoroute….these would become reasonably familiar to us on our trip!:



We were approaching our destination, when we stopped for a wee (happens a lot in a Lambo, I think there is even a term for it…Lambo Bladder, or maybe i’m just getting old…) We reviewed where we were and the journey the following day, which would have seen us go from Bourg to Sant’ Agata and on to Venice in one day. This we both agreed, seemed ambitious, especially as the wife had thrown a curve ball into the mix, by stating she had arranged a surprise lunch for me near the Lambo factory and we had to be there by 1pm, where my schedule had us there at about 3:15pm. It was about 4:30pm at this point and we were going well, so we decided to bin the planned stop in Bourg and head on to somewhere just over the border in Italy, to give us a head start in the morning. We settled on what looked like a nice place called Aosta, just in the foothills of the Alps on the other side of the Mont Blanc tunnel. The Wife decided that this lovely Italian town, which I later learned featured in The Italian Job, would be renamed Aorta.

Sadly it was dark by the time we got to the approach to the Mont Blanc tunnel, so missed what we later discovered on the way back, was some stunning scenery. I did have a little play in the tunnel with the V10 Symphony Orchestra, but could not go too mad as the speed limit is quite strict and they are pretty fussy about maintaining specific distances between vehicles. Plus, by this time as we approached the tunnel the weather had turned a little damp. Noah would have been making preparations it was that damp. Noah would feature fairly regularly it turns out. Here we are at the Hotel:



Aorta, it turns out, is a lovely little place and would definitely use that location as a stop again. The hotel was lovely with a superb restaurant. First taste of authentic Italian food…not a pineapple topped pizza in sight, which my Wife was determined to find to prove the authenticity of this bizarre food combination! Next morning, Noah was still making preparations, but undeterred, we set off. Today was going to be a highlight for me.

The rain was biblically bad first thing. Luckily the Autostrada down from Aorta towards Milan was empty. I mean empty. At one point I thought it was closed and that I had strayed onto it and missed the Road Closed signs. All was going well with the Toll Tickets Autostrada tag now replacing the Autoroute tag. (apparently there is soon to be a single tag that will work everywhere)

As we approached Modena, the exit we would need to take for Sant’ Agata, the weather had improved and the rain had stopped. We had been driving in Italy since the previous evening, it was now about 12:30 pm, we had driven from Aorta, past Milan and on to Modena… not a single Lambo spotted..or Ferrari…or anything particularly exotic. I had the idea in my head that in Italy, Lambos would be like Ford Fiestas in the UK. I found it quite weird that people would still photograph the car, video the car etc as I passed them or they passed me, even in Italy.

It was at this point that we had our first “Incident” with the Toll Tag. We left the motorway, approached the toll gate. Admittedly there were a couple of cars ahead of me and I may have been approaching the gate a little hot and a little close to the car in front….the Tag had a meltdown and decided not to open the barrier. Yes, Ros Beef was now stuck in a tag only Lane in a bright yellow Lamborghini. I had to reverse back out of the lane and use the card payment lane instead….whilst increasingly “passionate” Pastanistas were having to manoeuvre around me. Of course, it was an automated machine that was inviting me to insert the ticket I didn’t have to determine the toll. A press of the “help” button and an animated discussion with the staunchly non English speaking voice on the other end of the intercom resulted in a 50 Euro toll and the gate opened and I was away. I think I got fleeced on that one, but hey ho.

We arrived for Lunch…it was bang on 1pm. The Restaurant was delightful, in a little town just outside of Sant’ Agata. To my astonishment, our table was waiting and on the table was a book. The book was open and inside the front cover was a handwritten note that read: To Paul. Happy Birthday (Sympathetically) and was signed…Fabio Lamborghini. I am not sure whether the “sympathetically” comment was because I was 50 or because he was not there himself. You see, my wife had arranged this as a surprise and apparently the original plan was that we were to have lunch with Fabio Lamborghini, as this was his favourite Restaurant. However, he had to fly to Dubai that morning, so signed the book (about Ferrucio Lamborghini) for me and left it at the Restaurant…all coordinated by my wife. I knew now the reason why I married her! Incidentally, I have since been told that another arrangement will be made to have lunch and my dream to have my car signed by Fabio Lamborghini will be realised. If this happens, I will let you know!

A picture of the aforementioned signed book and the car parked up for lunch:





Now that a very nice lunch was over, it was time for the main event! A short 15 minute drive or so and we were here. Lamborghini HQ. I took some pics of my car outside the very place it was born way back in 2011:



The museum was interesting with some great cars on display, some pics for your delectation:





We also did the factory tour and got to see the Huracan Evo, Aventador S and SVJ and V12 Engine assembly lines. Also a tour of the upholstery and trim production area. The attention to detail that goes into firstly assessing the leather hides for defects and then actual assembly of the trim to the components was incredible. It was a fabulous tour and I imagined my car on what is now the Huracan line being assembled. Awesome. With that done, it was then on to Venice.

This is when we had another Toll adventure. Firstly, having lost my confidence in my tag, I approached the Autostrada entry toll gate in a ticket lane. As we arrived at the machine, we waited patiently, no ticket was forthcoming. We pressed a few random buttons on the machine and then suddenly the gate opened. Without further thought, we entered the motorway and headed down to Venice. By the time we got to the exit toll just outside Venice, it was around 7pm. It suddenly dawned on us that we did not, in fact, have a ticket to insert into the machine since we were never given one when we entered the Autostrada. Yes, you guessed it, another animated attempt and conversing with a staunchly non English speaking voice through the intercom and Ros Beef in his bright yellow Lamborghini blocking a toll gate. Eventually we were released after paying a more respectable toll charge of around 20 Euro, based on entering the Autostrada at Bologna.

The hotel we had booked in Venice is just on the Piazzale Roma and the only hotel in Venice with its own car park. Somehow I did not fancy using one of the many enormous municipal multi-stories that were there. What I didn’t realise was that to access this car park, the car had to go on a lift. It was pretty cool actually, as the glass balustrades lowered and we were able to drive onto the lift. You had to unpack the car and hand over the keys at this point, before the car was lowered into the ground and parked by the Hotel concierge. At this point I could not help recall that scene in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, where Ferris parks his dad’s Ferrari California in the multi story, which is then immediately nicked by the car park staff for a proper ringing! Anyway, it was safe and we drew quite a crowd of spectators as they all watched us arrive, park and the car get lowered into the ground.



We had a lovely few days rest in Venice from Tuesday evening to Friday morning and enjoyed the sights and lots of authentic Italian food. Again, not a pineapple topped pizza in sight! (Pineapple on pizza is just wrong, imo). A few pics:







Throughout our stay in Italy and the travelling from France and back, we did not see a single Lamborghini….or anything particularly exotic. This surprised me. I just figured we would see a few. We did see this, however, which was an amusing take on the Ghostbusters theme…:



Soon, it was time to start heading back. While we were in Venice, I exchanged a few emails with Toll Tickets who had provided the tag and they assured me the device should work fine, provided I left a decent gap from the car in front entering the gate and kept my speed down to around 20-30kmh. Reassured, we braved it and approached the tag only lane with caution. It was a tense moment, as by now, I was sure that pictures were all over Italian Social Media of idiot Ros Beef in his yellow Lamborghini stuck in the toll gate lane! All was good and with huge relief the barrier opened and we were away. Just a quick pic of the car rising from the ground, at the Venice Hotel on the day of departure:



Remember the packing comments earlier? Well, in my opinion, the car was well packed but we would not have much room for anything else. At one of the various fuel stops, however, my wife spotted metre long Ritter Chocolate Selection Boxes, some interesting Caramel flavoured liquor bottles and a number of other goodies in the shop. Don’t be daft, I said, we’ll never fit that stuff in. I was told to trust her as she had it under control and we duly purchased 3 x metre long Ritter Selection boxes, a couple of bottles of the liquor and an assortment of other sweets. Now, my wife is blessed with a fair amount of ingenuity, but I was convinced she would be beaten by this audacious attempt at bulk chocolate conveyancing. I was wrong! Everything was duly stashed in the cabin…here is a pic:



Outstanding job there! These Lambos are really quite versatile. Another quite alarming but quaint discovery at one of the Italian filling stations, was a picnic table set up right on the forecourt, complete with smoking facilities, ashtrays etc….I mean…really?:



Some hours later we arrived in a Geneva, our next night stop on the Friday night, after having navigated the Mont Blanc tunnel once more, this time in the daylight. Sure enough the scenery was stunning, although the weather was not great, but this time nothing to trouble Noah. Another pic when we stopped for another wee back near Aorta just prior to the tunnel:



The hotel we selected was right on Lake Geneva and the views were outstanding, even though the weather was a little grey and miserable. It had its own secure underground car park, which was a bonus, although this time it was more conventionally accessed.



The following morning, Saturday, we were heading out from Geneva to travel to Reims. Once again, Noah was bothered and preparations must have been underway to collect two of each animal species, as we headed away. Through all the weather we had, the car behaved impeccably. It served to reinforce my belief that the Gallardo is not, as some would believe, made of paper and does actually appear to be waterproof and perfectly capable of operating in the rain. Point to note for the garage queen enthusiasts among us. It was a pleasant drive on normal roads through some mountains (The Jura, I believe) over the Swiss/French border and on into France.

Eventually, we rejoined the Autoroute, somewhere near Dijon (Mustard, as my wife renamed it). Once again, we were able to hunker down and make some swift progress. We arrived in Reims around 4pm. The Hotel we were staying at, had its own car park (this was a key part of the hotel research process, in case you hadn’t guessed), but it was accessed through a very narrow passageway, which proved quite a squeeze:



We had a great night in Reims and particularly enjoyed the Sushi Bar we found for our evening dinner. No pineapple topped pizza to be found anywhere. To bed then, ready for the final push to Calais and on to home. It is now Saturday Night.

Sunday morning arrived. This was the final leg of our adventure. The rain was less intense that we had seen on other days, so I imagined that Noah was feeling quite relaxed. Back on the Autoroute we went. At this point I should say, that the moments of epicness for me, were pulling away from the toll gates and accelerating hard through the gears. That V10 Symphony really is a joy to behold. Also, 140kmh seems to arrive in an alarmingly short period of time. Still, it would be rude not to press on enthusiastically.

Another one of my Wife’s requests was that we should take the Ferry, as it would bring back memories of pre-tunnel crossings she did as child. To be honest, it had been an age since I had been on a Ferry and the idea appealed, as it would provide us with a decent break before heading back to Norfolk once we arrived in Dover. We arrived in Calais in good time and actually were able to board an earlier boat than the one we had booked. No dramas getting on or off, although I was grateful for the front lift on the car, navigating the ramps onto the boat. P&O provided a good respite and the crossing went well. The weather had improved markedly on our journey up from Reims and the crossing was very smooth.



Back on English soil, we then only had the final part of the journey back to Norfolk, which like the journey down the previous Sunday, went pretty well without a hitch. What a trip! I enjoyed it immensely and the car never missed a beat, absolutely faultless. I kind of felt that the car had a good time as well, as we really managed to stretch its legs. Some facts:

Total Journey Distance: 2250 miles.
Average MPG: 21.6
Total Gallons: 105 ish
Fuel Stops: About 9, I did lose count.

Issues with Car: None. Although it took about 4 hours to get it all nice and clean again after we had returned home.



I hope you enjoyed reading and apologies if it was a little long winded, but it was a great adventure and now I want to do it all again! Just need to think of an equally justifiable reason to get the approval once more!

Pericoloso

40,998 posts

110 months

Tuesday 5th November
quotequote all
Nice write up,thanks.

As Sr Lamborghini signed your book,you should have frequented his museum too in Funo,not far from Sant Agata.

I've been to factory museum 3 times and I was pleased to see this year it is much improved.
It used to be a bit bland ,like a car showroom,albeit with some excellent "stock".

I don't use a tag in Italy,I have the auto machines well sussed out.

Butter Face

19,439 posts

107 months

Tuesday 5th November
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Lovely write up, thanks for sharing!

apmcconv

5 posts

2 months

Tuesday 5th November
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Fantastic write up and what a thoughtful wife you have. Car looks great!

Spindoctor

541 posts

147 months

Tuesday 5th November
quotequote all
Epic trip, inspiring narrative. Now I’m tempted.

ANOpax

107 posts

113 months

Tuesday 5th November
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Great write up. You can get combined toll tags for France, Italy, Spain and Portugal all in one tag.

Area-enlinge.com is the website for creating and administering an account.

m3jappa

4,414 posts

165 months

Tuesday 5th November
quotequote all
Excellent! I bet it was very enjoyable indeed!

Regarding not seeing anything exotic in Italy, i read (on here i think) that they basically have an inland revenue police who literally drive about looking for people to pull over for tax evasion. As such they dont have or hide their cars.

I have been down to Tuscany a couple of times (i would recommend that certainly! ) and i saw just one italian registered ferrari which was driven by a young very fashionable italian looking bloke! , no lambos, dont even think i saw porsche. I saw a small amount of exotics and without fail they were foreign registered, mostly swiss iirc.

The bad part of my trips there was coming back and realising just how bad our roads are frown so bad infact that i have lost pretty much all enthusiasm for driving here now, and with no mates who do these kinds of trips i dont drive for fun at all any more really frown

ElanS

61 posts

18 months

Tuesday 5th November
quotequote all
Looks like a great road trip. I would love to do something similar one day. Perfect car for the trip too!
Was it mainly positive reaction to the car?

Superleg48

Original Poster:

740 posts

80 months

Tuesday 5th November
quotequote all
ElanS said:
Looks like a great road trip. I would love to do something similar one day. Perfect car for the trip too!
Was it mainly positive reaction to the car?
Yes, always positive. Never had a bad reaction so far.

ANOpax

107 posts

113 months

Wednesday 6th November
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Superleg48 said:
Yes, always positive. Never had a bad reaction so far.
Similar experience here in a Fezza.

If you drive a Lambo or Ferrari in the U.K., people think you’re a w@nker.

If you drive a Lambo or Ferrari in Italy, people think you’re a hero.

In Italy, I’ve had garage forecourt managers wrestle the fuel pump nozzle out of my hand and insist on refuelling the car for me...


Edited by ANOpax on Wednesday 6th November 04:28

ghost83

3,318 posts

137 months

Wednesday 6th November
quotequote all
Lovely write up

Happy 50th

Superleg48

Original Poster:

740 posts

80 months

Wednesday 6th November
quotequote all
ANOpax said:
Similar experience here in a Fezza.

If you drive a Lambo or Ferrari in the U.K., people think you’re a w@nker.

If you drive a Lambo or Ferrari in Italy, people think you’re a hero.

In Italy, I’ve had garage forecourt managers wrestle the fuel pump nozzle out of my hand and insist on refuelling the car for me...


Edited by ANOpax on Wednesday 6th November 04:28
I have to say, I have never had a bad reaction in the UK either in over three years of ownership. I am always open to people chatting and taking pictures. I also let the kids have a sit in it for a photo as well. The thing seems to bring smiles to peoples faces, not least mine. Couldn’t imagine parting with it now.

snoopy25

988 posts

67 months

Wednesday 6th November
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What a fantastic write up!

Sounds like you had an amazing time in a fantastic car!

PompeyReece

624 posts

36 months

Wednesday 6th November
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Great article, thanks for taking the time to post!

Reeso

1,189 posts

198 months

Wednesday 6th November
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Thanks for sharing. A great adventure....and happy 50th

jeremyc

17,842 posts

231 months

Wednesday 6th November
quotequote all
Snap! I took my Gallardo back to the factory as part of an extended driving tour around Tuscany and Northern Italy in September.

Our packing challenges included having to have outfits for a wedding we were attending, large hats included. smile








stevebu916

55 posts

154 months

Wednesday 6th November
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Thanks OP, really enjoyed reading that.

Considering doing a similar trip only to Cuveglio, near Varese in Northern Italy and wondering what en-route weather we should plan for over the next week or 2. Mainly concerned about suitability of Michelin Pilot Sport for this time of year.

I've spent my last few coffee time reads in the acrimonious, back biting 'crèche' that is the Porsche section so thanks to the OP and all posters in this thread, it has been just the therapy I needed to remind me just how good PH and its contributors can be.

Chris F

8 posts

154 months

Wednesday 6th November
quotequote all
Happy belated 50th and a great write up!

I've been lucky enough to visit the Ferrari and Lambo factory. The former you are just a tourist even though Maranello has a great feeling, the later make everyone feel special and keeps the dream of owning one alive... Lambo to Venice, definitely beats Easyjet...

Also makes a nice change to read someone enjoying ownership and using the car, not how much it's gone up or down in value!!!

When is the next trip planned?

BelfastBoy

758 posts

107 months

Wednesday 6th November
quotequote all
Great read, all very interesting and informative! Did they make a fuss of you at the factory since it was a special occasion and you were there in one of their 'babies', or was it just the standard type of visitor experience?

Pericoloso

40,998 posts

110 months

Wednesday 6th November
quotequote all
ANOpax said:
In Italy, I’ve had garage forecourt managers wrestle the fuel pump nozzle out of my hand and insist on refuelling the car for me...
That's known as Servito ,which usually costs considerably more per litre.....smile