The 10th edition of the Gran Premio Terre di Canossa explored the enchanting roads crossing Emilia and Tuscany from October 1st to October 4th 2020. The crews revelled in the challenge of an itinerary covering about 650 km and including time trials and average speed trials with secret time checks and 2 special trophies.
The Challenge and the Podium
This year’s trials fired the drivers’ competitive spirit with every form of challenging trial possible: uphill, downhill, high speed, panoramic, or unique and fascinating like the passages in city centres.
The winners of this tenth edition were announced after several days of heated competition, although the sportsmanship among the crews fighting for the top positions never faltered.
Crew number 1 was declared overall winner of the Terre di Canossa 2020: Alberto Aliverti and Stefano Valente in a 1929 Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 SS Zagato, which also won the Pre War Cup.
Crew number 5 took the second place on the podium in the overall final classification: Giorgio Lambruschi and Alessandro Mancini in a 1964 Porsche 356 C, also winning the special ranking for the average speed trials. Third place went to crew number 4, Stefano Ginesi and Susanna Rohr, in a 1959 Porsche 356 A 1600 Super.
Top of the rankings for the modern Ferraris was crew 41, Enrico Zobele and Ivana Trentinaglia in a Ferrari GTC 4 Lusso. Crew 44, Vincenzo Ferrari and Giovanna Berghenti, came second in a Ferrari California T, followed by crew 43, Fabio Vergamini and Annamaria Fabrizi in a Ferrari 488 GTB.
Scuderia Retro Rally Club came first in the team rankings.
Many crews managed to get here from abroad despite the tricky times, firing the challenge for the international cups won by Swiss crew number 4, Stefano Ginesi and Susanna Rohr, in a 1959 Porsche 356 A 1600 Super.
There was also a heated battle for the two trophies reserved for non-priority drivers, a characteristic of the Terre di Canossa: the Trofeo Forte dei Marmi went to crew Berselli and Osti in a 1958 Triumph TR3, whereas the Trofeo Tricolore went to the Dutch crew, Filius and Filius Van Straalen, in a 1955 Fiat 1100/103.
The special award for the youngest driver went to Thomaz Zobele in a Ferrari Portofino.
The Bravest Arrival in Italy special award went to Vladimir Kuksov and Olesya Rakhilkina, who managed to travel from Russia.
There was a special mention for three crews who drove on stoically and finished the itinerary in their open top cars despite the bad weather: the English crew Regis – Regis in a 1956 Maserati 200 SI, the Aliverti – Valente crew in a 1929 Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 SS Zagato, and Swiss crew Schmidt – Sigrist in a 1955 MG TF 1500, who won the special “Underwater” award.
Even in such unusual and unsettling times as this year, the team at Canossa Events and Scuderia Tricolore enthusiastically got the engines of passion firing with the 10th edition of the Terre di Canossa.
2020 has been a very difficult year indeed and has forced some complex decisions on us all. Many events around the world have been cancelled or postponed until next year. Covid-19 has created many organisational headaches and many regular competitors reluctantly had to forego competing because of the new restrictions. Nevertheless, Canossa Events chose to carry on and welcomed its friends and fans in its usual style. Their message was clear: it’s time to get back on track; it’s time to get up and running again, to get back to our lives and our passions, like the passion for our vintage cars that have been waiting patiently in garages for months on end, in the hope of seeing sunlight again before winter.
The mood during the Terre di Canossa was quite serene, obviously the utmost attention was paid to the safety of the participants, who were welcomed with the usual smile, even though it was hidden behind a face mask, as required by the health and safety protocol.
The crews appreciated all of this, proven by the fact that many overcame logistical obstacles and travelled from various European countries, as well as the United States and Russia.
The 10th edition
The 2020 edition celebrated an important milestone and so Canossa decided to mark the event with a medieval theme focusing on Matilda of Canossa, who was Queen of Italy in the 12th century. Everything was dedicated to her from the start, with the event highlights taking place in fascinating historic locations.
The competitors experienced a taste of Medieval splendour and the atmosphere of the Middle Ages at the gala evening held in the splendid setting of Tabiano Castle, built at the turn of the 11th century, at lunch on Friday at Filattiera Castle, built between the 12th and 13th centuries by the Malaspina family, and at the finishing line overlooked by 12th century Rocca del Boiardo fortress. As always, the Terre di Canossa is a calibrated combination of fantastic cars and gentlemen drivers who come here from far afield to enjoy this unique opportunity to get a special taste of Italy, combining the adrenalin of the competition with the delights of the best Italian food and wine, and the chance to explore the areas en route.
And so it was in 2020 too, with the Canossa team striking the ideal balance between new ideas and welcome comebacks, resulting in a race that always feels new yet bears the mark of its customary style. The crews relived some of the most popular ideas from previous years: the departure from Salsomaggiore Terme, a beautiful Art Nouveau town, the drive through Lucca city centre and across its ancient city walls, the two trophies reserved for non-professional drivers, and the sunset beach party at Forte dei Marmi.
There were also numerous new ideas to surprise regular participants. These included the locations in suggestive medieval castles, crossing challenging Passo Cisa, the newcomer Passo Rastrello, driving through the hills above Pisa, and the parade in San Rossore Presidential Estate. The race ended at Scandiano in the province of Reggio Emilia where, for the first time ever, drivers competed to win the Trofeo Tricolore on roads climbing up through the hills, taking the crews to their last lunch location with a panoramic terrace overlooking the vast flat lands of Emilia below.
The Protagonists and their Comments “hot off the press”
At the end of the event, a tired but happy Luigi Orlandini, President and CEO of Canossa Events, was still smiling: “It was a huge challenge with so many last minute complications due to Covid-19 and the bad weather, but it was so satisfying to see we managed to finish this beautiful race despite the many adversities. The participants enjoyed themselves, we had a great and tight-knit group; it was a struggle, but we love what we do and it really is a joy to stage events like this. There is no describing the feeling of satisfaction that we managed to bring home such a difficult result with such success”. He went on to thank everyone and named the date for 11th edition of the Terre di Canossa, which will take place from 15th to 18th April 2021.
Alberto Aliverti, the overall winner of the 2020 Terre di Canossa, said: “Luigi Orlandini and his team really did their best in the face of so many obstacles: the weather, the global issue of Covid-19 … Nevertheless, he managed to bring a group of close friends together; the hospitality was excellent with the competition and the sport no less grand. Passed with flying colours, in the words of a very competitive and very detail-oriented person!”.
Enrico Zobele, winner of the modern Ferrari ranking, said: “As a competitor, I can say it was a lovely event, so well done to Canossa, carry on like this! A lovely race: we were battling against Covid, against the weather, against everything… It couldn’t have been done any better, very well done!”.
Clemens Schickentanz, a well-known driver in the 60s and 70s who competed on the most important racetracks in Europe including the Nürburgring, Monza, Le Mans and Mugello, had this to say about the event: “I have also taken part in the Modena Cento Ore and I think the scenery in Tuscany is really marvellous and full of charm. Italians should be very proud, you can see their style in the houses and the roads we passed along the way. Italian design is in the little things, like the details that the team handled with such attention. Unfortunately, the weather was not on our side, but it means the memory of the experience will remain with us even longer!”.
Christian Geistdörfer, twice World Rally Champion, said: “For me, the Terre di Canossa was a great race and important training opportunity ahead of my participation in the Mille Miglia: I got here thanks to my friend Wolfgang Kurth. It was an interesting experience since our Porsche 35 C Carrera is not easy to drive because it has only two gears: 1st and 3rd. I’ve always loved speed, but you change as time goes by, even if your passion remains the same. I think the atmosphere, the good food and the stopovers in general were really great”.
Thomaz Zobele, the youngest driver was enthusiastic: “A great weekend, spectacular scenery, and great company. See you next year!”
Vladimir Kuksov, the driver of the only team that managed to make it here from Russia, made these enthusiastic comments: “The race was a very positive experience, even though it was often foggy but all the more challenging for this very reason. Every aspect was handled to perfection, the bigger things and the smaller details. As a professional, I tend to notice these details. I drove 7 hours a day; I was often tired, but it was a fantastic experience. Just one recommendation: keep it up and… see you next time!”.
A ‘technological’ edition
This year, the Terre di Canossa once again used the Racelink platform, the first satellite monitoring solution designed for road races that has been used at top events in this sector for several years. It has recently been updated with a smart phone system and specially-designed software offering top-class features to assist both the crews and the rally organisers. “Keeping a grip on our technological leadership is essential if we want to continue offering our customers something new”, said Luigi Orlandini, President and CEO of Canossa Events. “This is why a few years ago we started to work on the total redesign of the platform, and I can say that, as of last year, it is updated continuously and really does pack a superb performance. It has been designed to cater especially for the needs of our many guests from outside Italy, who come here with their fabulous cars to enjoy the beauty of this wonderful country of ours. Another important aspect that has always been a major element for us, is safety: Racelink is a way for our Operations Room to monitor the position of the cars driven by competitors and of service vehicles, drastically reducing the time it takes to intervene and safeguarding the precision of the assistance offered should the need arise. It is also possible to keep in contact with all the competitors at all times during the rally to give them the latest information they need to compete. This year, for example, the system and being able to communicate at all times proved vital, as we were able to keep all the crews up-to-date with the latest information about the itinerary and the sudden changes in the weather…. An obvious example is the extremely urgent communication on account of the red alert in Liguria on Friday due to the dreadful weather conditions and the flooding that led to the leg being cancelled in the afternoon. All the crews were notified straight away and the operations centre “accompanied” them in total safety until they arrived at Forte dei Marmi.
A challenge dressed in ‘Green’
The organisers confirmed their eco-friendly outlook for the fifth year running by once again deciding to implement a CarbonZero protocol and completely offset the residual emissions of CO2 by planting new trees in the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines. The Terre di Canossa once again was a “zero emissions” event.
Speaking on behalf of all of those involved in the organisation of the event, CEO Luigi Orlandini would like to thank everyone who played a part in making this event such a huge success: the participants, of course, followed by the towns and cities that welcomed the event, the CSAI Rally Officers, and everyone else involved, whatever part they played, as none of this would have been possible without their support.
Obviously the success of the event was also possible because of the enthusiasm of the crews, our unique team, and the support of our superb partners such as Lavor, main sponsor of the event, Giorgio Piola who supplied the beautiful watches presented at the prize-giving ceremony, Cantina Vicobarone who offered the wines, Maggiore who presented a new car, and Noberasco 1908 who offered a selection of their products.
The Event Day by Day
Day 1 – Thursday, October 1st: technical and administrative checks at Salsomaggiore Terme and gala evening at Tabiano Castle
Once again, despite the complexities of the current times and with particular attention to safety, the 10th edition of Terre di Canossa got off to a start with the usual technical and administrative checks in the charming setting of the Grand Hotel at Salsomaggiore Terme. The participants coming from many European countries, but also from America and Russia, smiled behind their face masks, happy to be here and to have overcome the difficulty of travelling during this period, sharing the joy of being able to get together for the Terre di Canossa, an event that has become a must in the panorama of international regularity rallies. Many of the crews who were unable to attend because of the severe restrictions imposed by Covid-19, sent messages looking forward to the next edition and reminding the whole team that they were there in spirit.
During the afternoon, these gems on four-wheels were displayed in the city centre streets and in Piazza Berzieri, overlooked by the famous Art Nouveau spa buildings built by Ugo Giusti, where many famous names of the international jet set have been spotted over the years.
The evening event launching this special edition, totally dedicated to the theme of the Middle Ages, was held in the splendid setting of Tabiano Castle, built at the turn of the 11th century and considered one of the most important feudal fortresses in Emilia, a chance to get a feeling for the local history. Musicians in medieval dress greeted the participants who, after climbing the imposing staircase, visited the castle and enjoyed the beautiful view in a magical atmosphere spanning past and present.
The gala dinner was designed by Michelin chef Massimo Spigaroli, offering the crews a truly exclusive evening before the big departure the next morning.
Day 2- Friday, October 2nd: First leg of the Terre di Canossa, from Salsomaggiore Terme to Forte dei Marmi
The cars lined up opposite the Terme Berzieri building; the Italian flag fluttered at the starting line under the arch, and then they were off on the first leg of the 2020 Terre di Canossa.
The cars glistened against the grey backdrop of the rainy sky accompanied by the roar of the engines. The atmosphere was great, the urge to participate was tangible, the bad weather couldn’t dampen the enthusiastic spirits, and the voice of the presenter commented as the “old ladies on four wheels” passed by. After crossing the starting line, the crews headed off towards the green hairpin bends in the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines, full of charm and sharp bends. This is the challenge awaiting the drivers and co-drivers, as they tackle the road ahead based on their car’s performance and their own driving skills, while they study the route of the rally. Driving up the challenging road to Passo Cisa and the several timed trials, one after the other, and then crossing the lovely town centre of Pontremoli with its narrow streets and the time check awaiting them in Piazza della Repubblica.
The crews headed towards Filattiera Castle built by the Malaspina family and a stopover in a typically medieval setting. There was time to relax in its cosy halls, swap stories and ideas about the race before getting back behind the wheel of their glorious cars and the competition. The route climbed up Passo del Rastrello, a little known but really pretty pass: roads immersed in lush greenery, with a typically autumnal atmosphere and luxuriant streams and rivers.
Everything was going according to plan and the crews were ready to cross the watershed and enter Liguria, but at about 2 pm the Clerk of the Course sent out an important message to all the crews via Racelink. The regional authorities had decided the rally had to be stopped on account of the Red Alert in Liguria: critical weather conditions and the risk of flooding meant the competition had to be suspended after Sesta Godano. The participants went straight to Forte dei Marmi, parked their cars and, even though they all regretted having to abandon the race ahead of time, thanked the organisers for their care and the prompt warning.
Day 3 – Saturday, October 3rd. In the heart of Tuscany: Lucca, the hills above Pisa, Montenero circuit, and Forte dei Marmi
The second leg of the Terre di Canossa started at the circuit in Piazza Marconi at Forte dei Marmi, the favourite seaside resort of Gabriele D’Annunzio.
Italy was being lashed by bad weather and there was no respite for the crews either, who stoically took to the road in the pouring rain, sporting a smile and happy to be there. The first car set off at 8.45 am, with the cars heading towards Lake Massaciuccoli on a minor road that almost seems specially designed for a full-immersion experience amidst the vines and olive trees of the beautiful Tuscan countryside. They then drove to Lucca, entering the city through Porta Santa Maria and crossing the narrow streets of the city centre, admired by passers-by taking pictures of this one-off occasion. The cars crossed spectacular Piazza Anfiteatro, opposite the church of San Michele, and Piazza Napoleone and then drove up onto the ancient city walls, with special access granted to the crews of the Terre di Canossa for the occasion. The cars parked up for public display and then circuited the full length of the city walls before heading out of the city towards Monte Serra for a series of challenging timed trials, taking a route offering fabulous views of the plains below.
The crews stopped for lunch at the hillside location of Villa il Poggione, welcomed by the staff in medieval dress and treated to lunch in an atmospheric historic setting. Then it was time to set off again in the direction of the lovely hills above Pisa where the green and brown colours of the countryside alternated with the unmistakable avenues of cypress trees so dear to Pascoli and Carducci.
The glorious roads of the historic Montenero Circuit awaited, won for the first time by Corrado Lotti in 1921 in an Ansaldo 2000. In 1937, the 15th Italian Grand Prix was held at the same circuit and was won by Rudolph Caracciola in a Mercedes-Benz W125.
Putting the victories of the past aside, the route took one of the most spectacular stretches of the Via Aurelia made famous by Vittorio Gassman at the wheel of a Lancia Aurelia B24 in the classic movie Il Sorpasso. The afternoon sun and the sparkling Mediterranean sea greeted the crews, encouraging them to take their tops off.
San Rossore Presidential Estate, now part of Migliarino Nature Park, welcomed the crews with its dense vegetation of maritime pines and other ancient trees.
The leg came to a close in the heart of Versilia with the exciting Trofeo Forte dei Marmi awaiting the crews in the circuit set up in Piazza Marconi. Event sponsor Maggiore displayed a car in the exceptional “Forte dei Marmi red sunset” colour in the foyer of the Augustus Hotel & Resort. There was just time to change for the Terre di Canossa’s most glamorous evening event: the beach party at Bambaissa Beach Club. Guests were treated to a light show on the beach, stilt walkers and fire-eaters before the awards ceremony for the Trofeo Forte dei Marmi.
Luigi Orlandini greeted everyone and thanked all the participants for their enthusiastic enjoyment of the event before announcing the news: next year Canossa Events will be moving premises to a new location in the heart of the historic lands of Countess Matilda. He also took the opportunity to introduce the new company division: Canossa Lifestyle.
Before dinner, Admiral Giorgio Lazio, commander of the Northern Maritime Command of the Italian Navy, renewed his invitation for next year’s passage.
Day 4 – Sunday 4th: From Forte dei Marmi to Reggio Emilia
The last leg was scheduled to depart at 8.45 a.m. in Piazza Dante, opposite Forte dei Marmi’s Town Hall. The crews said their goodbyes to Versilia and the coast and headed off towards the Apuan Alps and their fascinating marble quarries. The sun and the rain played hide and seek, making for a magical atmosphere all along the way. The cars paraded through Castelnuovo di Garfagnana town centre, navigated the hairpin bends up to Passo delle Radici, and finally reached Scandiano in the province of Reggio Emilia, and its medieval Rocca del Boiardo fortress. Then it was time for the last challenge on the hilly roads for the Trofeo Tricolore and then the long-awaited awards ceremonies and the crowning of the 2020 winners.
Report by gpcanossa.it
Photos by Courtesy of Canossa Events