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From Roger Bear -

GABBICE MARE – MAY 2006

This event is organised by the Italian MG Car Club. Roger/Sue, Alan/Shirley and Richard/Daphne attended the event in 2003 and had such a good time they were determined to do it again.

Unfortunately Daphne’s illness meant that she could not attend so we were reduced to three cars :-

Roger/Sue MGC GT XBL 44H
Alan/Shirley MG ZT-T V8 BL54 MWP
David/Virginia MGB YUN 789L


THE OUTBOUND JOURNEY
Wednesday 10th May 2006
An early start from Norwich for Roger & Sue, picking up Alan & Shirley on the way and catching up with David & Virginia on the M20. Arrived in good time for the 10.40 ferry and were soon in Boulogne.
The journey strategy had already been agreed, the MGB being relatively slower would lead the way and we would take it in stages of about 2 hours driving, trying to keep at 70mph on the nice open roads. Before we knew it we had got to Chaumont and found a nice Best Western hotel right by the railway station. A total drive of 516 miles for the day.

Thursday 11th May 2006
After a pleasant breakfast we were back on the road again by 9.30. By lunchtime we could begin to see the Alps and soon encountered our first (of many) tunnels. David and Virginia had suggested that we stop off at Chamonix, a small town at the base of Mont Blanc.
After a dull start to the day we arrived at Chamonix at about 4.00pm in beautiful sunshine and, through the local Tourist Office, got booked in to a lovely Swiss chalet style hotel. The ladies went sightseeing/shopping in the town whilst the men enjoyed a few beers and made contact with Richard through the hotel’s Internet connection.
In the evening Alan treated us all to a meal in the town to celebrate his birthday, which included frog legs for Roger and a surprise ‘cake and candle’ for Alan – then a few brandies were consumed back at the hotel.

Friday 12th May 2006
A 9.00am start with a lovely clear sky and amazing views of the mountains. Through the Mont Blanc tunnel and we were soon in Northern Italy and then on to the motorways again. Prior to Milan there were lots of roadworks and busy roads, in all this was the least enjoyable part of the journey.
By 5.00pm we arrived at our hotel in Gabbice Mare, a total of 1172 miles from Norwich.
After some refreshing beers and a good meal at the hotel, we had a stroll around Gabicce, all seemed much as it was on our last visit.

GABBICE MARE

Gabicce Mare is a delightful seaside town on the Adriatic coast about 20 miles south of Rimini. This time of year it is very quiet, as the summer season has not started. Many hotels open early, ready for the influx of MGs, for this event. Our hotel, The Majestic, was at the southern edge of the town, rooms had good views over the sea.
We had arrived three days early, with the intention of going to watch the Mille Miglia, but as the weather was so good we decided to spend this extra time relaxing in Gabbice.

Monday 15th May 2006
After dinner the event kicked off with a civic reception in one of the larger hotels. A few speeches followed by lots of nibbles and wine. This was our first chance to meet up with friends made at our last visit.

Tuesday 16th May 2006
The first gathering of all the cars at the car park gave us an opportunity to view the large range of interesting cars attending. It was also the first time we were to see the vintage police car and motorbike that would join us and the police motorcycle outriders that would be escorting us.
After some speeches led by Fabio the convoy set off for Montefiore Conca. We took a delightful route, part of which is used for the Mille Miglia and were welcomed at Montefiore with wine and nibbles. After our short break we moved on to Gradara, a walled town with wonderful views, where there was more wine and nibbles.
A musical evening was planned but we did not make it as we could not find the car park where the coaches were leaving from. Instead we spent the evening at a bar in town.

Wednesday 17th May 2006
This day started off with a drive to Casteldelci, a wonderful drive along small roads with lots of hairpin bends and hills. At Casteldelci the parking arrangements were terrible, something we were starting to get used to as all the towns we visited were too small to handle 150+ cars! But as we were greeted with the customary hospitality and had more wine and nibbles it made up for this annoying inconvenience.
After our break we drove on to the Oltremare Park, a theme park at Riccione. The attractions were spectacular, seahorses, alligators, a flying display of birds of prey and best of all an outstanding dolphin display.

Thursday 18th May 2006
Hot and sunny again.
An enjoyable journey to the Ferrari museum near San Marino. This was an interesting venue, it was good to see some of the vintage cars, but not as exciting as we had thought it would be and not enough there to occupy us for the whole 2 hours!
By 11.30 we were on the road again, a short trip with lots of hairpin bends up to San Marino proper. A magnificent lunch had been organised, we lost count of the courses and the number of bottles of wine that arrived. In the afternoon there was ample time to roam the streets of San Marino to sample the sights, the shops and the cafes. All the ladies bought handbags and made full use of this tax free haven!
A very hot journey back to Gabicce finished off the day’s run.

Friday 19th May 2006
The itinerary listed a visit to Urbania and what promised to be another long lunch, but as the weather was so nice we decided to spend a day on the beach.
The evening entertainment was very interesting. The main street in Gabicce had been closed and an Elvis impersonator was performing outside of one of the bars. The music was superb and he had the right costume, but he looked more like Del Boy than Elvis! The accompaniment was a young girl on roller skates. Free ice creams were provided and the evening was rounded off by a few drinks in our favourite bar.

Saturday 20th May 2006
The men went to see the driving Gymkhana, while the ladies went to the market at Cattolica. They came back with various items of bargain clothing and some annoying battery driven model Smart cars!
We skipped the afternoon run, preferring to spend a relaxing lunch at the beach bar and a pleasant afternoon on the beach.
The evening entertainment was a coach trip to Gradara, where we had a huge evening meal, with wine flowing continuously. There was music, performing skaters and a comic waiter, a really good evening. When assembling for the coach trip back nobody realised that Susan had got on a coach without the rest of us, but the rest of us got the next coach and she was in bed before us (2.00am).

Sunday 21st May 2006
Although the day started dull and overcast and we were feeling the effects of the night before, it soon became hot and sunny again.
Today’s run started with a parade through Gabicce and then we headed out to Santarcangelo, a town with a wonderful square where we parked. Refreshments were provide and we had an hour to wander around.
After this break we went on via lots of hills and hairpin bends to our lunch destination of Torriana. This appeared to be an old fort on the top of a hill with a very steep entrance through an archway that demanded a first gear dash. The meal was so large that we had give up at about the 4th course, but it was good and the wine flowed again.
After our meal it was time for the presentations and prize giving. Alan was surprised to receive an award for the newest car.

THE HOMEWARD JOURNEY
Monday 22nd May 2006
Time to start the trip back home. After an early breakfast and saying goodbye to fellow participants and the hotel staff we set off on the road towards Milan.
Our route home took us due north towards Switzerland, round Lake Como and on to Lake Lucerne for our overnight stop at the Holiday Inn Express. As we went north the weather became cooler and at Lucerne we saw our first rain for two weeks.

Tuesday 23rd May 2006
A 9.00am start saw us back on the road towards Basle. Here we had an interesting episode in the tunnels that abound in Basle. In the middle of one of these tunnels Virginia decided to take a sharp left turn, Roger followed, and both cars frightened the life out of two construction workers who appeared to be excavating a new section of tunnel. Seems that Virginia was following the satnav instructions but took an earlier turn than necessary. Alan was wiser and kept going, but a bit further up the road got stopped and searched at the border control!

That evening we arrived at Laon, tried to book in to a hotel we had used before, but it was full and we finished up at a pleasant Ibis hotel where we had a superb meal and Virginia treated us to Champagne. A fitting end to our two weeks abroad

Wednesday 24th May 2006
Arrived at Boulogne early enough for a brief visit to the shopping centre and still had several hours to wait for our ferry. Announcements were made that services were running late due to rough weather and once on board we were informed that one of the four engines was not working. It was a relatively slow crossing and very rough, we were glad to get back on terra firma in Dover

The journey home from Dover was unpleasant, lots of rain and horrible traffic on the M25. But by late evening we were all home at last.

SUMMARY
This event is by far the best one in Europe, we would all highly recommend that everyone should do it at least once. We met some people who have attended all six occasions and are committed to doing it again.
The weather is usually good, it was superb this year. The daily runs take you through stunning scenery to beautiful little towns, the hospitality is second to none and the thrill of having your own police escort cannot be beaten. Those guys know how to ride and enjoy themselves as much as we did, evidenced by the photos that we have of them riding down the middle of the road standing on their seats. There is no navigation to worry about as the police stop all the traffic, take you through red traffic lights etc, all you have to do is follow the car in front!

The only gripes were that parking in some of the small towns can be a real headache and it seems that some participants lack courtesy, witnessed by the jostling for position whenever the convoy was to start. These small issues though did not detract from the wonderful atmosphere in Italy, nowhere else would you see such large crowds come out to wave as you go by.

The cars behaved fairly well. The ZT was missing it’s air conditioning and spluttered once (probably because we were going too slow for it). Primrose suffered with sticking brakes, subsequently diagnosed as a fault with the servo that was easily fixed (thanks again to MG Mecca). The MGC started to develop an intermittent cutting out on the way home, this was eventually diagnosed 3 weeks later as a failed fuel pump. Overall, not bad for over 2,600 miles motoring.


Facts & Numbers

Nationality participants

Country Number of cars

Belgium 2
Denmark 5
France 8
Germany 24
Holland 55
Luxemburg 3
UK 24
Switzerland 8


Cars (1933 – 2003)

Type Number
Pre MGA 18/80 2
MG J2 1
MG K1 2
MG L2 1
MG PA 1
MG VA 4
MG TC 4
MG TD 10
MG TF 12
MG Magnette /NB 3
Modern MGA 44
MGB (GT/V8/RV8) 44
MGC 8
MGF/TF 13
MG Midget 6
MG ZT-T 1
Other 3


Apologies for the length of this note, but as you may gather there was a lot to cover during our two week trip.