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2005: Our American Friends...

Its official - we're on our way to Munich to Dirk and Gretel's. We are to go to the "Mille Miglia" in Italy. Its exciting and scary at the same time. At our kid's insistence, here we are. Dirk and Gretel wanting us to bring our whole family and stay for a month! Maybe another time. Dirk met us at the airport and took us to Rosenheim. Gretel had coffee waiting and of course Dirk showed us the cars first.

The next morning we awoke. Dirk is on schedule for the Mille Miglia awaits! The event he waits for all year. Dirk drove "Lady", a 1949 170SA Mercedes and Gretel, Anthony and I were in "Beauty" a 1960 220S Mercedes. We are to pick up the Maserati Priest; Father Manfred and Yurgen in a neighboring town. Dirk's son drove Yurgen's 1967 Maserati and we were off in the rain, through the Alps into Italy.
The River Ein
We stopped for a picnic lunch around 1 P.M. near the river "Ein" - it was not raining but cold. Lunch consisted of fresh rolls and pretzels, raw radishes, onions, tomatoes, Italian meat, fizzy water, wine and chocolates for desert. All the intersections in Germany, Austria and Italy are circular and you keep following a circle until you reach your getting off point. I think it really cuts down on accidents.

I would be amazed at the may beautiful flowers; roses, geraniums, tulips, pansies, lemon and orange and palm trees and vineyards, even up the mountainsides ... we can even see snow up on the Alps too.
Lago di Garda
The most lovely part for me was in Italy near Laga di Garda. We stopped for cappuccino and Father Manfred explained the history to us. Dirk told Anthony and I that Manfred is quite the writer. He has written several books, whose bulk proceeds goes to buying supplies for the poor. The smaller proceeds, to purchase vintage cars that he loves. He is currently working on a four volume, 2800 page history of the Catholic Church.

We arrived at the hotel Casablanca in Lazise, Italy which was beautiful. Pink, the chosen colors, beautiful rooms very clean, marble and ceramic floors and many flowers.
Hotel Casablanca    
Thursday, we had breakfast today at Hotel Casablanca of hot tea, croissant, bruschetta, chees and hard rolls. I like this hotel and atmosphere very much. Its now off to Brescia for the beginning of the Mille Miglia. Dirk gave us all hats and Gretel drove like a race car driver. I am writing as we drive. Brescia is beautiful, buildings painted in orange, mint green, yellow and taupe, some trimmed in brick and glass and some pink.

All buildings have terra cotta red roof tiles, some wrought iron railings and may shutters that actually close. I am amazed at the amount of motorcycles and bicyclists in Italy. Also, street side cafes surrounded by planter boxes of trees and flowers. We found a restorante with a second floor looking down on all the cars. We had spaghetti that was similar to what Nonnie Oliverio made and then met back up with the group.
We drove for hours and made it to Cesenatico on the Adriatic sea coast. Across the way is Yugoslavia. We are at the hotel Savoia. Manfred is a walking talking encyclopedia. He speaks seven languages. We are seeing a world so very new to us that we may never pass this way again, all is beautiful, magical. We finally got through to our son Anthony. Tao ran off today and the woman a Bailey's business systems had him held when Anthony got there. He said Charlie and another man had been working our our building and the "Platinum" people came out of nowhere and were ripping the forest out by the roots, making it look like Sauroman's forest. He said he was ok and not to worry.

The next morning we were off to San Marino. Gretel drove and I rode in the car with Father Manfred, who gave a very interesting history lesson on the way. He was also a history teacher at the University and was an exchange student in America in the 1960's and stayed with a wonderful family. He has also written six books which are in the library of congress. He was also very enthused about the American quarters with the individual states on them.
San Marino    
Going to San Marino was unlike anything we had ever seen before. Higher and higher to the top of this mighty fortress that was reminiscent of the Lord of the Rings. I could picture Gandalf riding his horse to the top! We parked and started climbing steps stairs and streets of brick and cobble stone to the cafe above where we had ring side seating for the "rally" cars. Anthony is so very excited, videoing everything. It is such a great group to be with all so serious too about this great race. It costs around $5,000 to enter the Mille Miglia which mean the "1000 mile race". Several "princes" were also in the race. We sat at another cafe where some of the cars sped right beside our table!  
Before long it was time to travel to our next destination, Firenza, (Florence in province of Toscany- Tuscany). The country mountain roads from San Marino to Florence were very beautiful and reminded us of our blue ridge mountains. We rode in the Maserati.

About 17 km form Florence in "Vaglia" we came to our destination. Resting in the hills north of Florence, the ancient farm houses of Coiano offers places of tranquility that is populated by deer, falcon and wild boar. An area rich in history from the Etruscans presence to the splendor of the the Medici's Villas of Trebio and Pratolino
Farmhouse In Tuscany    
We would stay in a restored 15th century farmhouse, our host "Donatella" was very gracious. Walking back to our accommodations, Valerie said "La Vita Bella" (Life is Beautiful), and Dirk asked where she had learned it and she said from our hometown Italian Heritage Festival. Beautiful scenery, where we were then off to Cessatico  
Library Of Congress    
An evening during dinner, the Library of Congress, Valerie's Journaling, American State Quarters and a Vatican Historian's Austrian Land Rally were some of the topics. We would finally get through to WV and were provided dire news.

Mille Miglia
A very large rooster woke us up this morning outside of our window. Horses, sheep, pigs and chickens all around. Two medium sized fig trees were growing near the doorway, as Manfred pointed out the same as in Jesus's time. We left around noon and came to a nearby town to have coffee and lunch. I had espresso and Anthony had his Coca - Cola. We would then watch the Mille Miglia cars come through. Sterling Moss drives by in his Mercedes 300 SLR, number 722, the car that he broke Mille Miglia records with decades prior. We then load up and go. Then as our boys put it "hold on to your nuts" Dirk the daring was in the lead car, Holger second and gracious Gretel last.

The roads were like driving through Galloway to Philippi WV. Spectators lined the road, everywhere in dangerous sharp curves, cheering madly and waving. Many small towns with buildings close to the road! What excitement, dangers and suspense all at the same moment. I was with Yurgen and Holger in Jurgen's car, who loved it when the crowd screamed look a Maserati! 
Anthony rode with Dirk in the open top "Beauty", who drove the car like crazy, Anthony would tell me later. He held on not because he was scared, he didn't want to fall out of the convertible. Holger looked in the mirror and said my big beautiful eyes were wide open like I was scared. I said no - it was just like being on a roller coater ride. He said yes, but they are over in two minutes. It was intense to say the least, but the three divers Holger, Dirk and Gretel were up to the challenge!

Manfred was scared, he kept telling her to stop, slow down, watch out. Afterwards, we would stop at a gas station and a McDonalds was behind it and we ran for it. WC time, tea and burgers. We made it to the Hotel Casablanca in Lazise around 9 P.M. Alexandro was very happy to see us again. We sat outside at the restaurant. At one point during the meal, Manfred exclaimed; Valerie, dear sister in Christ, would you pour me me some red wine? Which also brought much laughter. The good night! Buona Sera Buona Notte. The next morning as we head to the cars, Alexandoro and his Mama came carrying a bottle of "Groppa" for each of us. The whole famiglia (Fam-ee-yah) were a very special group.
Dirk would take Anthony and I to the village of Kufstein. A long hike to an area that reminded me of Heidi. I stopped and wondered how many miles we actually walked! Our ending point was the oldest farmhouse in Kufstein. They serve their own products to finished hikers, (milk, bread, cheese and meats). When we got back to our car we drove to pub/restaurant that was a favorite of Arnold Swartznegger's. Once home, we watched a video of the 1959 Imperial's arrival from America in 2003. Then Dirk got out Gretel's accordion and she played for us.

The next day, Dirk took us to some shops where I found "Drindl" clothing, (traditional dress for Germany). I found E,R and J one also. Dirk said I cannot complain if Anthony buys car parts, as I had spent $450.00. (What if we never come back to Germany?)

We made it to the airport and found our way through security protocols and ate a bite. We then departed for America.
Next: Pendling & Kufstein...