Past Tours & Galleries

Sept 2009 Car Guy Tour
“The Lucky Tour”
By Francis G. Frank Mandarano

First let me say thank you to the following people who made this tour happen:

2009 “The Lucky Tour” Participants
Jim & Valerie Smith
Steve & Michele Boone
Bill &Vida Siino
Roy & Carol Lonberger
Richard & Michelle Ruff
Fred & Annette Gellert Jr.
Scott & Esther Dungan
John Manoogian II & Connie Ruff
Sam Lucas & Jan O’Dea Lucas
Ken and Leslie Wears
Steven Lary
John Gouley
Charles E. Hoffman
Paul Levy

Arriving in Italy
The 2009 Tour started out from the get go hitting on all 12 cylinders. My BA flight into Heathrow from Seattle was easy, the plane change went well and just when I’m thinking this is getting old, the captain comes on the PA system and says buckle up for our landing into Milan Malpensa. With all my luggage I’m feeling like Dianna Ross and the Supremes as I scoot through the “nothing to declare” portal. I pop outside where it's starting to get dark and grab a cab for the 75 Euro trip to my favorite Milano hotel, The Nuovo Marghera on Piazza Piemonte. Yes, I could have taken the train or the bus for a lot less, but after a long flight I’m tired and just want to be there, so it's worth the extra 50 Euros to get it done with.

The next day I took a taxi over to the local Fiat distribution center and picked up a new Turbo diesel Alfa Romeo Sportwagon press car courtesy of our friends at Alfa Romeo. This turned out to be one all time great car possessing what seemed like unlimited torque for quick passing, which I immediately made good use of. My traveling mates on the “pre-tour” were Tom and Mike McDowell, the new owners of the Concorso Italiano. So with car, passengers and luggage loaded up we headed for the Autostrada with the first stop Zagato, then onto Modena followed by Turin – what I refer to as the Italian Automotive Triangle. We visited all the guys and saw all the places, reconnecting with old friends and making some new ones. A week later we ended up in Como where Tom and Mike departed for a very early AM flight and I put the final touches on the 2009 Itinerary.

Fellow Tripmates began arriving in Como and in a couple days 95% of those signed up for the tour were present and accounted for. The other 5% arrived with several minutes left on the time clock.
On Sunday afternoon at 4PM sharp all 25 of us, including 10 ladies, enjoyed a great reception, meeting each other for the first time with each person standing and telling a little of their background. The group learned how to “raise your hand if your listening” a term used often by me – to get their attention – and picked up on as a clever inside joke by some of the Tripmates. The group turned out to be one of the finest, most pleasant group of people I have ever experienced. They had a genuine respect for each other and actually became good friends. Even to this day, our group email list is buzzing with “stuff” back and forth.

Lunch with Alfa Romeo
Monday morning it was on the bus at 8:57AM and off to Alfa Romeo. I received a call from a top Alfa Executive asking if our group would be available to be the guest of Alfa Romeo for lunch that day. I thanked him and assured him we would be honored and delighted to accept.

Good News, Bad News
My phone rang again, this time it was a “good news” “ bad news” call from our Hotel in Turin. Seems they did not have rooms for all of us due to overbooking. "OH NO!," I thought, "this will be a disaster!" Then the good news, they would put us all up in their 5 star Principi di Piemonte Hotel 2 blocks away at the same rate. Wow! We struck the lottery. When I broke the news to the group with a little drama thrown in they broke out in cheers and applause. Right then and there it became the “Lucky Tour.”

After visiting the Alfa Romeo Museum it was off to Stile Zagato and on to the great collection of Editoriale Domus-Collezione di Quattroruote. What a first day. It was sunny and as the bus headed for Turin I could see people dozing off for a little shut eye.

The rest of the Tour went something like this:

Tue. Sept 29 8:57 Depart Hotel on foot Visit Tom Tjaarda Design Studio Fioravanti in Moncalieri Lunch in Moncalieri Pininfarina Design Center Collection.
Depart Hotel in Bus A very rare visit to the Fiat Museum (this was a blow away) Bertone Design Center (Stile Bertone) Lunch on Autostrada Italdesign / Giugiaro
Depart to Modena, Check into Excellent 4 star Hotel in Center. Visit to premier restoration shop Lunch at a bar Maserati Factory Tour Schedoni Depart Hotel in Bus Campana Candini Maserati collection & Panini Cheese farm. Lunch in center of Modena Stangulini Collection Edonis & Bugatti Museum or Modena Motori Free day, have a much needed rest, you will really appreciate it. Enjoy Modena or take the train to Florence or Venice. Ask Frank about Hotel suggestions. Free day Relax and stroll. Depart Hotel Automobili Lamborghini Balsamic vinegar production. Pagani Factory. The Mario Righini Collection Enzo Ferrari Museum and Exhibit, including Enzo’s Birthplace. We then Depart for a “Day in Maranello” Tubi Style Exhaust Ferrari Galleria Museum. Ferrari Factory Tour for Ferrari Owners. Visit the three stores Ferrari Store, and Formula 1 Shopping next to Cavallino Ristorante and Warm Up next to the Ferrari Galleria. These stores are offer world class shopping for Books, Models, Clothing and Memorabilia Check out of Hotel Store luggage. Stroll through the Modena central market. Depart for your next destination.

Some of the highlights of the Sept 2009 Tour included:

The Fiat Museum:
This was the first time the Car Guy Tour had visited this Museum. I along with the group was totally blown away. This is a private Museum that is open to groups by invitation only. It is located in a large nondescript warehouse in central Turin. We were extremely lucky to have received an invitation for a personal guided tour. This museum contains the life history of Fiat, from ships to airplanes to cars and everything in between. All the ships were presented in scale models as well as the engines for the ships which in some cases were 3 stories high. There must have been thirty model airplanes built by Fiat. The cars which were spectacular, and numerous, were arranged in a very viewer friendly manor. It was hard to leave, we could have stayed for another hour easily.

Leonardo Fioravanti Studio & Collection:
Again this was a first for the Car Guy Tour. Our group was welcomed into the small studio located in the beautiful wall city of Moncalieri (a suburb of Turin) and met by Luca and his father Leonardo Fioravanti the man who has designed more Ferraris than any other person. There was a presentation and Q&A as well as photos with the group and individuals. We then were delivered to the Fioravanti's private villa for a tour of their private collection which consisted of 15 to 20 cars. In the collection was some beautiful concept cars and a few production cars all presented in a stunning garage built into the side of the hill featuring a spectacular view of the Po valley. Off in the distance stood the majestic Alps.

The Righini Collection:
Here for the first time ever the group witnessed the Ferrari 815 (the very first Ferrari) arriving in an enclosed trailer and driven by Maximilian to an area of the villa where photos could be taken from all sides.
This was a CGT first. In the past the car was always inside and only to be photographed from the front. Our sincere thanks to Sig. Righini for his generous hospitality.

We all had a great time together and concluded our time together with a wonderful “last Supper” in the Canalgrande Hotel basement ristorante. The group fell in love with Modena. A small town easy to know and fun to hang out in. As our Hotel is located in the historical center it was very easy to go out to dinner and shop around in the excellent little boutiques. Meeting up at café Concerto on Piazza Grande for aperitif became a routine. At the Last Supper the group presented me with a stunning Schedoni Roller bag - a total surprise and a cherished gift. I keep it by my desk to remind me often of our time together, and for that fragrant leather smell that never ends.

In Summary
There was a moment in time when 25 like minded people came together, and spent 10 beautiful days together in Northern Italy. No amount of photographs can capture the full emotion of those 10 days and no amount of story telling can pass on the feelings we experienced as we were all touched emotionally on a very primal level by the great artistry we witnessed. All that remains is the slow fading memories which can only be partially restored by the stories and pictures we pass on.

It is my wish that you will one day plan to join me in Italy to experience first hand those magical moments for yourself. Don’t wait until you're in your walker…

Frank Mandarano