Either driving or sleeping.

Italian grandezza. Forza! Avanti! Mille Miglia: even the name gets the blood racing – a heady brew of engine oil, long nights and snatched meals. You only have to close your eyes to see beautiful countryside, fairytale views and starlit nights. To hear the talk of cars and engines. To taste the pasta, the wine and the espresso with a good head of crema. For days on end, you’re either driving or sleeping. Enjoyed by women as much as men. The Mille Miglia exerts endless fascination for sports lovers, petrol heads and lovers of good old-fashioned adventure.

Like the three great drivers.

Demanding and rewarding in equal measure, the route cuts a swathe through Italy, taking in some of her most beautiful towns and cities. Places steeped in history, where devoted Mille fans line the narrow, winding streets. (In some cases, very narrow.) The spectators come within touching distance of the cars. Crowd barriers? Who cares? It’s all about being close to the action. Really close. Tazio Nuvolari. Rudolf Caracciola. Stirling Moss. For those taking part, these are more than just familiar names. All three are part of Mille Miglia history. They are immortalised in the list of winners who, in their day and in their own way, triumphed in epic battles. Everyone taking part in this crazy procession – whether in a beautifully preserved historic vehicle, a souped-up classic or, best of all, a head-turning Mercedes-Benz SLR – writes their own chapter of Mille Miglia history. Just like the three great drivers before them. And like those men, they’ll do it their way.

No place for everyday concerns.

In May in Bella Italia, the Silver Arrow drivers of today start champing at the bit. First comes the parade in Brescia (“Bravi!”). The winding streets. Spectators lined up along the route. The sound of tyres rolling over tarmac. If you are there, the boundaries of your world shrink to what is directly in front of you. Everything else – deadlines, responsibilities – fades away. The Mille Miglia is no place for everyday concerns. Steering right, steering left, braking, changing gear, accelerating, waving, cheering. And then doing it all over again – the more, the better. You are Nuvolari, Caracciola, Moss, all rolled into one. Then add a sprinkling of la dolce vita, animated conversation with your fellow racers both en route and in the evening, excellent food and drink … Marcello Mastroianni himself would be jealous.