There is a saying in Italy that “in place of blood, fuel runs in the veins of Brescians”. By the end of the 20th century, the area surrounding Brescia had become the center for motor racing competitions in Italy. None never more famous than Italy’s ‘Mille Miglia‘, one of the greatest classic car races in the world. A four day event that combines the magical scenery of the Italian countryside with one of the greatest spectacles in motor sports. A historical rally of legendary cars, a race of endurance competing across 1000 miles from Brescia to Rome passing through some of the most beautiful cities on the peninsula and most stunning landscapes on the planet. The route for the 2017 event, which celebrates the MM’s 90th anniversary, will take 440 drivers through more than 200 villages and towns, seven Italian regions and the Republic of San Marino.
Cars are selected exclusively from models that took part in at least one of the historical Mille Miglia races (from 1927 to 1957) and driven by a crews from around the world. Some like a 1928 SSK Mercedes are priceless museum pieces including 14 Fiats, 12 Alfa Romeos, 4 Zagato-built cars, 2 Maseratis and 4 Ferrari that completed the original course. A race of rock star proportions where enthusiastic lovers of velocity line the route (a loop of a little more than half of Italy), standing along mountain passes, Tuscan hill towns, roundabouts, pass cathedrals and castles, plains and lakes going as fast as they possibly can. From Brescia to Rome and back again.
Click here for a short documentary of Italy’s Mille Miglia from Jay Leno’s Garage.
A reminder of a trip to Italy, the ubiquitous souvenir T-shirt is a wearable image that displays a special affinity for a place or brand associated with your travels. Victorian ladies in the early and mid-19th century traveling in Rome were also drawn to wearable images of their trip. Micro-mosaic brooches made from tiny pieces of glass tile, called tesserae, 1500 to 5000 pieces per square inch. Cemented to a stone or metal background the glass tesserae created images of the beautiful scenery, evocative ruins and architectural sights of their travels. The settings so small that these brooches appeared to have been painted or enameled, until they were examined under a microscope.
Capitoline Doves or Doves of Pliny
Archeological themes were popular motifs for Italian micro-mosaic jewelers of the time. Miniature versions of ancient architectural mosaics and classical antiquities were highly favored by Victorian travelers as a keepsake and memento of their Grand Tour of Italy. Other subject matter included images of flowers, pastoral scenes, Italian peasant life and animals, particularly portraits of dogs. Among the most famous dog images is Antonio Aguatti’s seated spaniel. The detail of the dog’s fur looks like a painting yet is made up of thousands of glass tiles.
Spaniel in Landscape
The years 1810 to 1840 marked the height of the micro-mosaic with fine pieces of jewelry designed by artisans in Florence and Vatican craftsmen who used glass tesserae to make replicas of famous paintings to replace fading originals. In the mid-1800s the quality of micro-mosaic declined due to increased demand, unskilled workmanship and less discriminating tourists who were satisfied with pieces of lesser quality.