Arriving in Marseille was like entering another world. From the cloudy and cold weather of Paris, we were suddenly basking in the sun, albeit mildy cold weather. After collection our luggage, we headed to collect our car for the next few days. Whang decided to stay as far away as he could from the rental location, insisting that he brought bad luck with him. Teasing him a little, we lied to him saying we got a shitty car and that he had not stood far back enough. Instead, we upgraded to an automatic for 20 Euros per day. Not too bad a deal that we were eventually thankful for.
Our car for the next few days. It was a diesel.
The plan is simple enough. We would drive from Marseille to Bologna. During the route, we would pass Nice, Monaco and Genoa. A view of the route from google map:
It was a simple plan, and it would take us no more than 7 hours according to Google Maps. Initially, everything was wonderful. The drive was smooth, the weather was amazing and the view was stunning. The sea glistened in the mediterranean sun. It was an enjoyable journey, and I couldn’t stop staring out of the window once in a while.
Cruising past Nice!
And the amazing view at the French Riviera
Soon, we were within Italy and we headed towards Genoa. Then came the interesting part. It was all sunny and nice in most of the French Riviera, but after passing Genoa and heading into central Italy, the weather changed completely. In fact, it changed after a single tunnel. Upon exiting the tunnel, we were covered in dense fog and saw snow in the surroundings. The thermometer on our car recognised the plunge in temperature outside. It was as thought we entered another country/climate!
The fog that settled, you can’t really see the snow but its there…at the side in the valleys and all.
Then the drive switched to the straight roads or central Italy and, trust me, they were completely straight for hours. It was also completely dark outside with the exception of headlights and tail lights.
I fell asleep, but when I woke about half an hour later, we were stuck in a jam. Apparently we had not moved in a while. No one moved. People were seen outside their vehicles. Engines were off. It was a complete standstill! We were stuck.
It wasn’t good news, our journey was going to be delayed. Whang needed to pee really badly, so he tried to into a bottle. It failed, but it earned him the honour of peeing on the highway that’s meant for traffic at 130km/h. Not too bad. Then I saw the time, it was much later than I thought! 8pm. Oh no. Thankfully, the clock was off by an hour at it was only 7pm. Suddenly, we gained an hour!
When we finally reached Bologna, we had difficulty finding our accommodation that night. According to our GPS, it was on some unpaved road. That helped. We followed it and went up a steep hill (bear in mind it was completely dark and foggy outside). We couldn’t help but feel a little lost! After driving for 9 hours, I was quite edgy and hoped to find the place soon.
Thankfully, Massimo, our host, agreed to meet up at the petrol station at the foot of the hill. As we followed him to his place, we realised we were on the right track. But because his house was situated so high up the hill, we had not gone far enough. When we reached his place, it was completely dark and foggy. We could barely just make out the view of the house.
Massimo’s house felt traditionally Italian. It had some carpenter tools and we secretly joked about it. He also prepared dinner! I was extremely full from all the snacking and could not finish what he prepared – but it was a lasagne and some vegetarian food that Ngiam loved. Then there was also caked, all baked by him! He also baked bread! Impressive.
Then it was time to rest. The shower head was rather difficult to operate, but the bed was comfortable and the rest was good.
The next morning, he had prepared breakfast for us. Lovely host. It consisted of bread, tea and some of yesterday’s cake. All homemade, so again it was rather impressive and showed that he really loved cooking.
We set off for Lamborghini. It was about a 40 minute drive away but we were a little lost towards the end. At Lamborghini, we were amazed and enthralled by the museum first, then the factory tour. We could not take any photos in the factory, but it was exciting to see the place where all Lamborghinis were made. We got a little momento for our visit – a small piece of leather used for the upholstery.
The upper floor of the Lamborghini Museum. In front is the four door Estoque. This was never brought into production.
The Reventon, one of the few in the world!
A nice group shot.
The first Lamborghini
Miura. The groundbreaker for Lamborghini.
After the exciting factory tour, we took a short drive to Pagani. But it was closed, and we were not allowed in. We continued on to Ferrari.
Ferrari comes from the small town of Maranello, just about an hour from Bologna. When we reached, we started to see many signs of Ferrari. Outside the museum, we were approached by a guy who asked if we wanted to drive a Ferrari. Whang and Ngiam said yes, so I tagged along too. We negotiated a price, and for 200 euros we could all drive for 10 minutes and obtain a video dvd. It wasn’t that bad!
The drive was alright, nothing like sitting in Ngiam’s car at home. But the feeling of being at the wheel of a Ferrari, or sitting in one, or listening to one from inside was unforgettable. It was a novelty, and since we were all in Maranello, it was the right place to drive my first Ferrari! That 30 minutes were the most unforgettable of my entire winter trip. A well spent expense that I cannot have gained somewhere else.
Ngiam in his Ferrari
Whangs in his Ferrari.
And myself in my Ferrari! Hahaha
We had a couple of videos, I’ll upload them on another area.
With that, our main reason for visiting Bologna and Italy was done! We were to head back to Marseille for our next part of our trip – where it might be more chilled and less intense. That night before we went back, we had a wonderful pizza dinner in central Bologna. It was one of the best pizza I had eaten in Italy! But it was really huge and we had to take away. Funnily, there was a chinese waitress in the restaurant and she was more than happy to serve us.
The next morning, we drove back to Marseille. The drive was uneventful except for a major bump at the front. The GPS had brought us to an old path of road that was overgrown with vegetation! After a while of driving, our tire got stuck on the vegetation and skidded. So we decided not to proceed further and reversed our way out of there. It was a precarious position, and we took a long while. But it was a once in a lifetime experience, I doubt we’ll ever be stuck in another situation like this.
The rest of the trip was uneventful and we eventually reached Marseille, even though the last hour or so was spent on estimating whether the petrol was going to run out. But we returned out car on time and got the train to Nice just as we planned. It’s time for our third segment – the French Riviera!