Each May, thousands of petrol heads flock to Italy for what is described as the ‘most beautiful race in the world.’ Contestants in the Mille Miglia 2014 Edition will leave Brescia this afternoon and arrive in Padova for the first overnight stay. Tomorrow morning they leave for Rome, passing San Marino and L’Aquila on the way before departing for Bologna on Saturday, where they stay overnight before embarking on the last stretch to Brescia on Sunday morning (May 18th). In homage to this spectacular race, we take a look at some of Europe’s top drives:
The Amalfi Coast, Italy
This 45-mile stretch of narrow, winding coastal road starts in pretty Sorrento, south of Naples, and is flanked by huge cliff faces on one side and sea views on the other, with just a small stone wall, a few feet high, to keep you safe. Stop off on the way in Positano – famous for its cascade of sun-bleached peach, pink and terracotta-coloured houses – and soak up the scenery and all that a holiday to Italy offers.
The Grand, Middle and Lower Corniches, France and Monaco
These three roads all cross the French Riviera into Monaco. The highest – The Grand Corniche – follows a path built by the Romans with panoramic views across the ocean and of Eze, one of the prettiest towns on this steep coast. It’s the road Grace Kelly zoomed along in a blue cabriolet convertible in the classic Hitchcock film To Catch a Thief.
Col de Turini and Col de la Bonette, French Alps
Recommended by BBC’s Top Gear script editor Richard Porter – it was also featured on a Top Gear special to find the greatest driving road in the world – this mountain pass in the Alps is famous for its hairpin turns, which feature in a stage of the Monte Carlo Rally. Meanwhile, the Col de la Bonette is, at 2,807m, the highest road in Europe. The mountain pass finishes at around 2,700m but the French added an extra loop of road to ensure it retained the title!
The Estoril Coast Drive, Portugal
From Lisbon, drive along the River Tejo Estuary to Estoril on the Atlantic Coast. A playground for the rich and famous, the sandy beach here is backed by a two-mile-long promenade, rows of mansions, and one of Europe’s largest casinos. In Cassias, the next beach town along, you’ll find local fisherman auctioning their catch on the quayside. On this Portugal holiday, continue along the coastal path following the N247-4 until you reach Cabo da Roca, where you’ll find a pretty lighthouse which marks the westernmost point of the European mainland.
Bergen to Oslo, Norway
This 350-mile drive ensures begins at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Bryggen, where brightly coloured medieval Hanseatic League houses line the wharf. You’ll then head across the country, taking in snow-capped mountains, oceans of evergreens, dazzling blue fjords and pretty villages complete with old-fashioned wooden stave churches along the way.