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Does anyone know the way to the Pope’s summer residence?

Fresh from our day off from driving yesterday and our Vatican Museum adventure, we literally couldn’t wait to get back into the saddle today (Tuesday 14th May). We’re off for a jolly drive to Frascati and on the way we’ll pass through Castel Gandolfo where the Pope has a summer holiday flat.

So keen are we to jump back in to the navigational rallying, that before dawn some of our number are busily tweaking their charges and revving of their engines quite loudly. So loudly in fact that some of the American residents of the hotel can be heard shouting ‘Trip Advisor’ at hotel staff!

We leave and head off to the south of Rome and in to the heart of Frascati-shire. A photo competition is announced with a case of delicious Santome Prosecco as first prize. Along the route all teams pass a lake in the small town of Castel Gandolfo…. and we wanted them all to take a photo and text or email it through to us before lunch! We were inundated with great photos and so it fell to Davide from the Crowne Plaza Rome St Peters and Giorgio Picchi from CRAME to judge. They decided this was the best photo of the day. It shows Les Summerscales diving from his car with his spare tyre as a buoyancy aid.

Close second was Josh Pool from car 26 who draped himself in a Crowne Plaza bath robe upon the roof of his car

We drove through Castel Gandolfo and as hard as I looked I couldn’t see the Pope (either of them!) at his summer residence, so on we drove along the lovely Mini-friendly countryside roads. We eventually arrived at Frascati and managed to navigate the interesting one-way system around the square before driving the short distance on to our final stop.

We were heading for Monte Porzio Catone and the famous Frascati producer Castel Pilozzo, which has been making wine here for ages and ages. We were shown around the estate by the son of the owner and marvelled at how much wine they managed to produce from such a compact vineyard. We inspected their cellars and saw they kept a good supply back from each year’s production since 1990 for family consumption. We then enjoyed a delicious lunch and took in the wonderful Frascati sunshine before hopping back in our cars for the jaunt back to Rome.

Back at the hotel, I saw Euan from Car 71 on his way through the foyer to meet Service Van Paul in the car park. He’d been summoned by Paul and Euan looked concerned. He was chuntering to himself that it probably meant a more serious problem with the car than the suspected wheel bearing. I followed him down and saw Paul flat on his back at the wheel of the Mini. On seeing Euan he literally sprang to his feet and animatedly asked him if he was able to remove the locking wheel nut on his car because Paul ‘bloody couldn’t’. Seems Paul had been struggling for a while now and was getting frustrated. I looked at Euan, Euan looked at me and we both looked at Paul. Euan then explained that the car Paul had been attempting to remove the locking wheel nut from was not in fact his – it wasn’t even the same colour!

That evening in the hotel, Service Van Paul entertained us all with an Italian Job/Mini quiz which he’d clearly spent a lot of time researching. We all jumped into the spirit of it and it kept our attention nicely for a while, preventing us from disappearing off to the bar for more beers.

The winners were Team Fraser (head gasket cases from day one, father and son) who achieved a close to perfect score. Bloody swots! FSG

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