The Mille Miglia route for 2015 was recently announced at a media conference. It is both an evolution and a revolution. As always, it’s impossible to please everybody with the route, but there were more objections than usual this year because the organizers have chosen to skip the Futa and Raticosa. People should remember, though, that for better or worse only one location featured in all 24 runnings of the original Mille Miglia: Brescia. Futa and Raticosa, for example, were missed out in 1940 (because of the war) and 1949.
The first stage, Brescia to Rimini
The beginning is similar to last time, with a drive up to Peschiera del Garda. Then, instead of going north east, the convoy turns south east to Ferrara. The city of the Estenses won’t be an overnight stop in 2015, but just a milestone on the way to Ravenna and Rimini. This helps shorten the second day, which may be welcome given last year complaints about the 20 hours of driving. However it does mean that participants will miss the beautiful view from the hills of Romagna towards the end of the day. Many photographers will be very upset about that…
Another main difference concerns the traditional marking of the cars with lead tags – the “punzonatura”. Usually on a Thursday, this will now be on Wednesday to allow an early start, 14.45, the following day. This is a major, and very sad, breach with tradition. It will make one of the most characteristic components of the Mille Miglia much shorter, with far fewer onlookers likely to witness it.
The second stage, Rimini to Roma
In 2014, the second day was the longest ever experienced by participants in the modern Mille Miglia. This year it will be much more relaxing. There will still be a lot of driving to do, but the new route will allow teams to enjoy the scenery and drive at a more relaxed speed. The change that began to be evident a few years ago is thus confirmed: the Mille Miglia is moving away from being a hardcore test for classic car drivers who are prepared to suffer, and becoming more of a genteel event for those happy to drive around and cope with some challenges, but too many.
From the point of view of the photographers – and plenty of them follow the rally – this could be a very difficult day. It will be almost impossible to have the sun in the right position and get a photo of a car with the sea in the background. It will, however, be possible to do something that was impossible last year: take pictures of cars on the scenic road between Teramo and Rieti. L’Aquila will be skipped, so no “hello” this year to the city that suffered so much from the recent earthquake. A late arrival in Rome will help the teams, because arriving in the city during the Friday evening rush-hour has always been a nightmare for classic car drivers.
The third stage, Rome to Parma
As always, the third stage promises to be the most charming, but this is also where the biggest change comes. The exit from Rome up to Lake Bolsena, Ronciglione and Viterbo, followed by the beautiful hill climb to Radicofani, is the same as last year, though hopefully the construction work that prevented a drive past the church last year will have finished. Then the same magical route up to Siena and the drive through the Piazza del Campo. As last year, the convoy will then go west to Pisa and Lucca but then instead of turning east to the legendary passes of Futa and Raticosa, it will keep heading north to the Passo della Cisa, a first for the modern Mille Miglia (though the real one passed through in 1949). And then the day ends in Parma.
There are many reasons for the change. In 2015 Italy is hosting the international Expo. Milan will be the main location but the whole country will be involved in celebrating the event, which is dedicated to food and feeding the planet. Parma is where Italy’s food university is located, so it seemed like an appropriate place for the Mille Miglia to visit in this special year. Similarly, though this is not yet 100% confirmed, there are plans for the race to pass through Milan itself on its way to Brescia the next day.
The fourth stage, Parma to Brescia
Only time will tell whether this decision, driven far more by politics than passion, is right or wrong. In theory it makes sense – the two international events can bolster each other. And Milan, after all, was part of the original race in 1947 and 1948. The organizers must know that the main risk is traffic. The fourth day drive across one of the flattest, most crowded and industrialized parts of Italy is never beautiful, so at worst the teams will just have different views to “enjoy”. The main concern is connected with the weight of traffic: it will be Sunday, so that should help by taking a lot of trucks out of the equation, but a convoy of 1,000 cars entering a city hosting a major international event obviously brings the risk of traffic jams.
The plus side is that the drive through Milan and the Expo, with billions of people watching from all over the world, could inject a large dose of excitement into the rally. Whether Milan happens or not, the final 100 kilometers to Brescia will be the same as before, passing by the wonderful town of Bergamo. The Mille Miglia convoy is usually 5 hours long, making it much more difficult to close roads than for a cycle race like the Giro d’Italia, for example. The police escorts will certainly have their work cut out; clutches may burn out, and cars may overheat. But hopefully there will also be plenty of magic along the way.
For official information, please visit the official website of the Mille Miglia.