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Diary from the #IJ2023 – Day 8

Thursday 12th October – From Emilia Romagna to Tuscany ‘It’s Apennine time’

Today was the day we packed up our stuff, paid our extras and said our goodbyes to the

Molino Rosso and Imola. After four days we were now headed out into the Tuscan-Emilian Appennines towards Florence and ultimately our home for the next three days…. Siena.

There are a few ways to get from Imola to Siena but by far the most scenic and entertaining in terms of driving fun at least is via the Passo della Futa (The Futa Pass). This route took us on steeply ascending, severely twisting and in some places very narrow roads. Severe storms earlier this year saw landslides which in many places have damaged the road structure. In some places stop and go traffic lights were in operation and here we caught a glimpse of some of the damage the rains and mud had caused. This added a little time to our route and caution but the fun and visual delights of the drive was unaffected.

Destination point 1 today was the ‘Ristorante Passo della Futa’. Owned by Claudio Poletti (the 6th generation of his family to do so). The restaurant sits at 903m above sea level and is famous as a Time Control Point for the Mille Miglie and other trans Apennine car events. I was pretty certain it might be a little cooler at that altitude (than the 30º heat we’d grown accustomed to over the past few days) and I was right. For the first time this Italian Job, I put on a coat to protect myself from the 15º temperatures.

Teams started arriving soon after I did and we parked them in a helpfully cordoned off area directly opposite the entry to the restaurant. I responded to numerous ‘where are the toilets’ questions instantly and noticed a few Jobbers scurrying off in the general direction of where I’d sent them. Claudio laid on a buffet lunch spread that was impressive (in fact he sent me some video of the buffet on WhatsApp which I’ll share). After lunch, the sun came back and temperatures began to rise. We presented Claudio with an Italian Job pennant as a fond reminder of who we are (and also so he remembers to send us his invoice).

Onwards from Futa to Siena and the Sheraton 4 Points Hotel. Our new and next base for the next 3 nights. Some teams journeyed here via Florence (and I mean who can blame them for it is a beautiful city and we literally skirted past the fringes on our way south). Some teams went via Mugello for a petrol head fix and to take a customary photo of their car outside the iconic entrance before getting shouted at and moving off.

Randomly I received a message from Paul Raynes, an old Jobber (not so much old in years but as in he did the IJ a few times some years ago) asking me if I was at Mugello. Paul was there racing an old Jag or some such jalopy in the ‘Modena 100 Ore’ and he’d seen Trina (Dancing Queen) as well as a few Minis. It would have been good to see him but I’m actually meeting him at JLR Classic in a couple of weeks to chat about an IJ related matter, so we can compare Tuscany polaroids then.

We held a briefing at 7.30pm in the hotel bar (the hotel don’t have a microphone and anyway we don’t have the luxury of a dedicated restaurant or dining room in this hotel). This means a heap of innocent passers by (aka other hotel residents) had no choice but to listen to me prattle on about a Time Control and our visit tomorrow to the impressive Banfi Castle. I don’t think my dulcet (but raised to be heard) tones did anything to dampen their enjoyment of a quiet drink in the hotel bar.

The latest Buttle UK crew members Adrienne, Luke and Katie arrived and they’re with us now until Turin.

Happy birthday was sung for Helen Flint Team 12 who was celebrating a milestone birthday. Giulia had discreetly arranged a bottle of fizzy stuff in their room and a birthday cake at the table for them …. because she’s thoughtful like that.

Early to bed for me and early to rise as we head off to Montalcino for more special stages and more food.

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