A YEAR LATER – ALL THE ROADS LEAD TO CERNOBBIO
It was almost exactly one year ago, late May, when I was packing my backpack for my first ever trip to Italy. I was looking forward to eventually visiting the country which I thought I would fall in love with, with its delicious food and beautiful scenery. My excitement was even bigger, because I was heading to Cernobbio at Lago di Como, for my first ever Concorso d’Eleganza. When I was leaving I knew it has not been my last time at Villa Erba and that sooner or later I will be back. And although I was back to Lombardia in December again, I could not wait for another trip… obviously in May.
And this year, nothing has changed. Even though after being to Concorso once I kind of knew what to expect, my excitement did not drop by even a slightest bit. Boarding the plane, I could hear some guys discussing cars and by the time they mentioned Concorso d’Eleganza, I was sure that this event literally brings automotive enthusiasts and classic motoring amateurs from all over the World.
UNIQUE ATMOSPHERE AT THE LAKE
I arrived in Como few days prior to the main event, to relax and drive around the beautiful mountain scenery in my companion car for the trip – Fiat Panda – trying to picture it as if it was at least the Fiat 500 Spiaggia featured in this year’s edition. Driving alongside the lake I could sense something special is going on around – hotel parking lots were getting full with classic cars and there were countless BMW M and Rolls Royce driving back and forth to Villa d’Este and Villa Erba (as BMW Group was patronizing the event). Even at Como, how often can you see two Wraiths and one Phantom re-fueling at a gas station at the same time?
STUNNING, AS IT HAS ALWAYS BEEN
I did not participate in the closed show on Saturday and joined the public day on Sunday only. I woke up early, ate breakfast, had a cappuccino and walked all the way from Como to Villa Erba. A little warm up was good and the morning, foggy view at the lake inspiring. Once again, getting the print at home ticket helped almost skipping the gigantic line and it was maybe a quarter after I was in one of the most beautiful private gardens I have ever been to – year on, nothing has changed.
What have changed though, are obviously the cars. But as it is Concorso d’Eleganza – the pioneer of all car contests founded back in September 1929 – we are speaking pinnacles of automotive industry. Cars were grouped in eight different competition classes, with as always interesting names – From Manhattan to Mayfair: The Golden Age of Motoring Opulence; The Titans: Dirt, Dust and Danger; or When Sex Was Safe and Racing Dangerous: Formula One! are only my selected examples.
MY PERSONAL WINNERS
If I was to describe which cars appealed to me most, this would not be anything aspiring to an interesting article. Instead, you would find here a list of all fifty cars which took part in the event. Although some of them I liked more than the others, they all were unique, had different souls and had different histories to tell from behind their steering wheels. However, I can definitely say I fell for Bugatti 59, Fiat 500 Spiaggia, Ferrari 500 Superfast, Alfa Romeo 33/2 Stradale (obviously, but you cannot not love this car; it was also the winner on Saturday) and the one-off Lancia Stratos Zero with its charismatic owner. Having mentioned all of these cars I feel like the others were undermined… but they should definitely not!
RED CARPET AND THE OSCARS
In the afternoon all cars were presented on the red carpet in front of the Grand Stand and class winners were selected. To me, the ceremony resembles The Oscars – just for the classic cars rather than movies. Coincidentally, this year’s edition was called Hollywood at the Lake – to recall the old nickname The Grand Hotel Villa d’Este was given by the movie world insiders!
It is worth mentioning that the presentations are always buttoned up – the car drives up, followed by tastefully dressed models, Simon Kidston tells the story about the car and talks to the driver, then the car leaves and so do the models. When all exhibits are presented in such a way, the saddest moment of Concorso d’Eleganza is just around the corner. The show is about to end and what I one is left with – are the pictures.
Alike last year, I took one more look at Lago di Como from Villa Erba and promised myself I will be back next year. Grazie mille Concorso, grazie mille Villa Erba – ci vediamo presto.
Text and Photos: Adam Pękala ©