The Terre di Canossa is a prestigious rally for classic cars that takes place in northern Italy’s villages and mountain passes before ending at the sea. According to the event’s literature, only 100 entries are accepted for the race and all cars must be from the years 1919 through 1976. Polished and ready to roll, the cars are gorgeous and the drivers have an air of mystery, elegance, and wealth.
The event is named after Matilde di Canossa, an intriguing figure from the Middle Ages. A sort of warrior-queen, Matilde ruled a large swath of Italy, including what are now the regions of Emilia-Romagna, Lombardy, and Tuscany - all from her castle in the town of Canossa. Unique for her times, she was an independent woman and a bit scandalous. She left an arranged marriage, later married a teenage duke (while she was in her 40s) and is rumored to have been the paramour of a pope. Today, she is remembered with a monument in St. Peter’s Cathedral in Rome (designed by Bernini no less), a golf course that bears her name in Emilia-Romagna, and the Terre di Canossa classic car event. Somehow I believe that the classic cars would be her favorite of these tributes!
The race takes place over several days with stops in different cities to display the cars and make an overnight stay. And while the days are for driving, the nights are for food and wine, with the event billed as being for “gentleman drivers and gourmands.” I did, however, see a few gentlewomen among the drivers.
When the route passed through Lucca, the cars arrived to the fanfare of drummers and flag bearers in Medieval garb. After a stop in Piazza Napoleone to show off the cars to the gathered crowd, they set off for a circuit atop a the ancient city walls. And then it was off to the next phase of the road race.
And while my knowledge of classic cars is limited, I recognized the names - Fiat, Porsche, BMW, Austin-Healey, Lancia, Alfa Romeo - and I appreciated their sleek beauty.
Just imagine driving through Italy in one of these cars - can you feel the wind in your hair? -Post by JMB