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9th Terre di Canossa Challenge Offered Taste of All Seasons

Photo Courtesy of Canossa Events

Photo Courtesy of Canossa Events

Photo Courtesy of Canossa Events

Photo Courtesy of Canossa Events

Photo Courtesy of Canossa Events

Photo Courtesy of Canossa Events

Photo Courtesy of Canossa Events

Photo Courtesy of Canossa Events

Photo Courtesy of Canossa Events

Photo Courtesy of Canossa Events

Photo Courtesy of Canossa Events

Photo Courtesy of Canossa Events

Photo Courtesy of Canossa Events

Photo Courtesy of Canossa Events

Photo Courtesy of Canossa Events

Photo Courtesy of Canossa Events


The delightful roads of Emilia, Liguria and Tuscany provided the location for the 9th Gran Premio Terre di Canossa from April 11th and April 14th 2019 and its unrivalled combination of sport, passion, tourism, culture, fine food and wine, and exclusive evening events. And all of it eco-friendly.

Canossa Events and Scuderia Tricolore were Organisers Supreme, working hand in hand throughout last year to make sure this year’s challenge would again be a first-class event. The results of their efforts were plain for all to see: town squares packed with people, enthusiastic competitors, and gorgeous scenery on all 4 of the unforgettable competition days.

This year, even the weather took great pains to give the crews a taste of all four seasons, with bursts of summer heat, impromptu gushings of spring, and even an unexpected winter flurry with a blanket of snow awaiting at Passo del Cerreto. A joy for the eyes and an extra challenge for the competitors …

The Challenge and the Podium

The challenge burst into life with 103 registered crews competing against each another in 65 timed trials and 6 average speed trials, all presenting considerable technical difficulties and covering all types of terrain: road and track, uphill and downhill, some high-speed segments and others with spectacular views, like Passo del Vestito and Passo del Cerreto, and many offering the unique attraction and appeal of driving through old town centres.

Just as challenging were the “Trofeo Forte dei Marmi” on the circuit set up in Piazza Marconi, and the “Trofeo Tricolore” with trials held in piazza del Duomo, in Reggio Emilia’s old town centre.

The third step of the podium for the overall rankings went to crew number 19, Mario Passanante and Anna Maria Pisciotta, in their 1955 Fiat 1100/103. Second place went to crew number 3: Andrea Vesco and Andrea Guerini in a 1939 Bmw 328, and the ultimate victory for first place overall went to crew number 7: Juan Tocnonogy and Barbara Ruffini, in their 1927 Bugatti Type 40
which also won the cup for pre-war cars.

The special ranking for the average speed trials went to crew number 89, Luigi Costa and Bruno Strigini, in their 1969 Porsche 911 S.

Brescia Corse Team came first in the team ranking.

The Ladies Cup went to crew 47, Himara Bottini and Carolina Toia, in their 1957 Triumph TR3.

The ranking reserved for modern Ferraris saw Marco Serventi and Eduardo Andrade coming first in a Ferrari California T, followed by Franco Serventi and Daniela Maccini, and Cesare and Chiara Carabelli.

The special award for the youngest driver went to Andrea Vesco.

Another special award went to the competitors who have attended all of the previous editions of the Terre di Canossa: Eugenio Piccinelli, Marco Gatta, Peter Straub and Nadia Bazhenina.

The large number of foreign crews made the challenge for the international cups even more thrilling, won by crew number 7 from Argentina, Juan Tocnonogy and Barbara Ruffini.

It was a heated battle for the two trophies reserved for non-priority drivers, a characteristic of the Terre di Canossa challenge: the Trofeo Forte dei Marmi was won by crew number 57, Astori-Astori, in their 1960 Aston Martin DB4, and the Trofeo Tricolore went to crew number 94, Finster - Finster, in their 1971 Fiat Dino 2400.

The Terre di Canossa 2019 in numbers

  • 103 crews were at the starting line, and the event sold out as usual
  • 15 countries were represented, with crews coming from across Europe and places even further afield, like the United States, Argentina, Qatar, Russia and Canada.
  • 650 kilometre route
  • 65 timed trials
  • 6 average speed trials
  • 2 Trophies reserved for “non professional” drivers
  • 9 editions of the event
  • 80% participants from abroad
  • around 40% women competitors
  • 350 people were involved, providing various services to the organisers of the rally: the members of Scuderia Tricolore, the Canossa Events team, rally personnel, timekeepers, photographers and cameramen, the Police officers….
  • 0 residual emissions of C02
  • 28 car manufacturers present
  • 29 teams represented
  • 18 pre-war cars in the race

The 9th edition

This year, the rally covered an itinerary of around 650 km, including 65 challenging timed trials and 6 average speed trials with secret passage times.  But the Terre di Canossa is not just a challenge. It is primarily a winning combination of fantastic cars and gentlemen drivers who come here from all around the world to enjoy this unique opportunity to get a special taste of Italy, combining adrenalin from the competition with the delights of the best Italian food and wine, and the chance to explore the areas en route. The fatigue at the wheel is abundantly compensated by the time set aside for more convivial moments.

Some of the most popular attractions in previous years were back on the programme for the ninth rally: the departure from the splendid Liberty city of Salsomaggiore Terme, the passage through the centre of Pisa and Lucca, the Trofeo Forte dei Marmi and the Trofeo Tricolore, the “Pre-War Cup” reserved for older classic cars, and the hugely popular sunset beach party at Forte dei Marmi, the pearl of Versilia.

The organisers included plenty of new additions to keep things interesting for regular competitors. These included dinner on Friday evening in the majestic setting of Palazzo Ducale in Massa, with its magical grotto named after Neptune, lunch on Friday at the sophisticated location of Villa del Ferlaro and the drive through Carrara town centre. There was also plenty of time set aside for challenging stretches in the mountains with a new itinerary on the winding roads through the forests in Garfagnana, and the white marble quarries in the Apuan Alps,  and spectacular Passo del Vestito.

As usual, the race ended in Reggio Emilia, but the Trofeo Tricolore was held in the city centre for the first time: the birthplace of the Italian flag.

The number of foreign crews was up once again, who take advantage of the event to come and visit Italy: this year, 80 percent of the registered participants were from abroad, making the Terre di Canossa the Italian rally with the highest percentage of foreign crews.

“The protagonists” of the rally

Between the modern Ferraris paying tribute to the Prancing Horse and the older cars taking part, more than 90 years in the history of automobiles took to the road for the Terre di Canossa.

There were some really special motoring gems on the line up, that we really have to mention. The oldest cars included a 1926 Amilcar CGSS, a 1927 Bugatti Type 40, a Bugatti Type 37°, an Alfa Romeo 6C 1500 SS, and a 1928 Om 665 Superba S.  There were many very special cars that took part in the 2019 Terre di Canossa. They included the 1958 Triumph TR3 A driven by Senator Filippo Berselli that had a starring role in the film “La Dolce Vita”.  And many other rare vehicles…

A special mention goes to the many determined competitors who carried on despite the weather, the kilometres ahead, and the difficulties encountered, helping to make this edition an even more special event, by driving here in their classic cars from all across Europe… These are the Gentlemen Drivers who choose the Terre di Canossa!

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 hold of our technological leadership is essential if we want to continue offering our customers something new”, said Luigi Orlandini, founder and CEO of Canossa Events.  “This is why we decided it was time for a complete overhaul of the platform last year, which I can now say truly packs a superb and constantly updated performance. Once again, 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 take in 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 the competitors at all times during the rally to give them the latest information they need to compete. This year, for example, being able to communicate at all times was vital so we could keep everyone up to date about the latest information about the itinerary and the sudden changes in the weather…. Crossing Passo del Cerreto in the snow represented an excellent challenge for all of us. Once again, the platform was developed entirely by Italian engineers, in Italy". Safety and innovation: widely debated issues that are one of the strengths of Canossa Events and part of the company’s “DNA”.

An edition ‘in pink’

One number stands out in particular: almost 40% of the competitors were women, without any need for ‘women's quotas’! The Terre di Canossa was a dream come true: a challenging race as well as a chance to see the sights, an opportunity enjoyed equally by the most determined drivers as well as those who want to treat themselves to an extra special vacation.

A challenge dressed in ‘Green’

The organisers once again confirmed their eco-friendly outlook by 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 the only “zero emissions” event of its kind.

What People are Saying

“The Terre di Canossa has made its name among the top events on the calendar of major timed trials around the world, and as an occasion for enthusiasts to get together”, said Luigi Orlandini, president of the Scuderia Tricolore team and the visionary founder of Canossa Events.  “It’s a joy to hear participants saying: “See you at Canossa!”. Its success is mainly down to the spirited enthusiasm of all those taking part and the passion of the close-knit team of people who work for a full 12 months so that next year’s event will be even better. In terms of hospitality, the Terre di Canossa is definitely the diamond in the calendar of timed trials.

Our aim is to offer everyone taking part a challenging race in technical terms, as well as a memorable experience with exciting and enjoyable moments of hospitality, studying the optimum balance between the time set aside for the race and the time dedicated to more relaxing pastimes. Obviously, this is all thanks to the enthusiastic outlook of the crews, our unique team, and the support of our superb partners like Ruote da Sogno and Lavor. These are the ingredients that make the Terre di Canossa so special, year after year”.

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.

And last but not last, thanks to the Highway Police, whose help and support was acknowledged by the participants who saluted their police escort during the awards ceremony with a long standing ovation.

The route and the programme

Extensive research and many visits “on site” resulted in a new and diversified route being marked out, with scenic roads and visiting every feature of the Italian countryside, from the plains to the coast, rolling green hills and spectacular mountains.

The beauty of Italy is a backdrop that traditionally accompanies the splendid ‘masterpieces on four wheels’ at the Gran Premio Terre di Canossa.

The Event Day by Day

Thursday 11th  April: scrutineering and gala dinner

The engines were fired in the midst of the liberty extravaganza of Salsomaggiore Terme for the ninth edition of the Gran Premio Terre di Canossa. Classic cars lined up along the streets in the centre of town and opposite the Berzieri Spa building. While the drivers were checking their cars and registering their instruments, the public came in throngs to get a good look at the cars taking part. Palazzo dei Congressi was the fulcrum of the evening, a Liberty gem inaugurated in 1901 as the Grand Hotel des Thermes. CEO of Scuderia Tricolore, Luigi Orlandini, officially welcomed the competitors and the many local dignitaries in attendance. Special thanks went to the Town Council for accommodating this year’s rally and to the Highway Police for escorting the crews and ensuring their safety. After welcoming the drivers to the briefing in the Sala delle Cariatidi, dinner was held in the spectacular Salone Moresco, a banqueting hall designed in 1925 with the intention of conjuring up the mysterious and sensual appeal of the Alhambra. It is no coincidence that film director Bernardo Bertolucci chose it as a location to shoot some of the scenes for his Oscar winning movie “The Last Emperor”.

According to tradition, diners enjoyed a menu designed by Michelin star chef, Massimo Spigaroli.

Day 1: Friday 12th  April:

Leg One: from Salsomaggiore Terme to Massa

The sky was cloudy but there was no threat of rain and so the first leg of the Terre di Canossa got off to a roaring start watched by throngs of onlookers.

Piazza Berzieri in Salsomaggiore Terme was roused into life at 9.30 am by the voice of the Master of Ceremonies describing the cars to the many people who had come to watch. There were lots of people in the town square, cheering on the rally competitors, and lots of school children waving little Italian flags to the pace of the cars departing.

The first car set off at 10 am sharp, passing underneath the arch heading off towards Riccardo Paletti race track at Varano for the day’s first series of special stages.

The road climbing up to Passo della Cisa greeted the rally crews with a backdrop painted in the lush green of spring along an exciting route with back-to-back hairpin bends. The drivers rose to the challenge, tackling the road ahead while taking their car’s performance and their own driving skills into due consideration, planning their race strategy.

The cars then parked up in the vast, manicured grounds of Villa del Ferlaro, a splendid residence built in 1808 in the instantly recognisable neoclassical style seen in Parma.

The crews enjoyed some time to relax and check over their equipment before they were off again, through the Apennines towards Berceto and Borgo Val di Taro, which once again offered a warm welcome to the Terre di Canossa opening up the old town centre and offering some of the local hospitality based on smiling faces and “amor” biscuits.

The drive continued up to the scenic Passo della Cappelletta, the venue chosen for some more timed trials with its unmistakeable wind farms and spectacular and challenging hairpin bends.

The changing colours of the scenery was almost surreal: from the white and grey clouds to the brown earth, and the green of the fields all around. Each bend offered views across this magical area while the sun did a fine job of showing off the sparkling bodywork of the cars, inviting crews to take their tops off.

The leg arrived in gorgeous Piazza degli Aranci in Massa at dusk, where the cars were presented to the public and welcomed by local dignitaries, lining up so everyone could admire them.

The city is dominated by splendid Malaspina Castle and awaited the crews for dinner at Palazzo Ducale, previously called Palazzo Rosso by command of Teresa Panfili, niece of Pope Innocence X who had it painted in the Papal colours: red and white. The crews were taken aback after entering the palazzo’s cloisters for drinks before dinner, amazed by the beauty of Neptune’s Grotto, a small gem hidden in the core of the building and designed by Alessandro Bergamini.

Throughout the day, it was a fierce battle for the top spot on the podium and those aiming for the first three places competed with times down to the hundredths of a second. At the end of the first leg and after the last group of trials at the Cappelletta Pass came to a close, the ranking was: Argentinian crew number 7 Tonconogy-Ruffini in first place, followed by crew number 3: Vesco-Guerini and then crew 19, Passanante-Pisciotta.

Day 2: Saturday 13th April:

The art towns and cities in Tuscany: Pisa, Lucca, Carrara and Forte dei Marmi

The second leg of the Terre di Canossa got off to a start in the sunshine at the circuit in Piazzale Marconi at Forte dei Marmi, the favourite seaside resort of Gabriele D’Annunzio.

There were lots of smiling faces, the crews were partaking in some light-hearted banter and discussions about possible changes in the rankings.

The first car got off to a start at 9.15 am and then off they all went towards the famous art cities in Tuscany.

Pisa was the first stop and greeted the cars with its spectacular views of the river followed by the old town centre for the obligatory passage against the magical backdrop of Piazza dei Cavalieri, home to the prestigious “Scuola Normale” University of Pisa and then the drive through the archway of the building named after Count Ugolino, mentioned in Dante’s inferno.

After a quick glimpse of the world’s most famous Leaning Tower that almost seemed to bow in tribute to the “old gals” driving by, there was another spectacular series of time trials through the olive groves, on a road that is a typical example of the gorgeous Tuscan countryside.

And then it was Lucca’s turn to greet the crews with crowds lining up along the streets in the town centre, applauding and taking snaps of the “museum on four wheels”. The crews drove past Piazza Anfiteatro, San Michele church and then Lucca opened out with splendid Piazza Napoleone with flag-bearers putting on a fine show, and creating a superb photo op with the cars lined up behind them.

There was a short stop for the public to watch the show followed by the highly anticipated passage on the ancient city walls, a UNESCO world heritage site, transformed into the perfect venue for the most elegant of parades.

The crews now made a beeline for the mountains in Garfagnana and the cars tackled the bends in complete safety, escorted by the Highway Police as magnificently as ever.

After the passage alongside the Devil’s Bridge, it was time for a well-deserved lunch amidst the green hills of Barga.

Back at the wheel, the crews headed towards Castelnuovo Garfagnana with a picturesque passage through the ancient medieval village and then, and then there were more bends to tackle after crossing Passo del Vestito and Isola Santa, along with tricky hairpins, road tunnels hewn out of the rock, initially driving through the clouds and then dropping down rapidly towards the plains below with a 360° view across Carrara, the coast and the islands in the Bay of Poets.

The white Apuan Alps provided a fine backdrop, framing the view, as the crews reached the old town centre of Carrara, opening its gates to the crews for the first time so they could have the rare pleasure of exploring the town known all around the world for the white marble used by Michelangelo himself for his magnificent sculptures. The cars paraded in Piazza Alberica, greeted by a warm crowd and the local dignitaries, who offered their guests a sample of the local Lardo di Colonnata and a marble cadeau made especially for the event. Italy reinstated its fame not only for being the “Bel Paese”, but as the country offering the warmest welcome.

This leg finished in the heart of Versilia, marked by the exciting Trofeo Forte dei Marmi awaiting the crews in the circuit set up in Piazza Marconi.

There was just time for the crews to change clothes ahead of the most glamorous evening event during the Terre di Canossa: the highly anticipated beach party at Bambaissa Beach Club complete with a spectacular sunset, to the delight of everyone, and an evening of music and champagne on the beach.

The battle between the leading crews to get ahead in the ranking was even fiercer, all competing hard, one trial after another, and all overtaking the others several times. At the end of the day, the line up for the podium saw crew number 3, Vesco-Guerini coming top, followed by crew number 7 Tonconogy-Ruffini and then crew number 1 Giacoppo-Grillone Tecioiu.

Sunday 14th: From Forte dei Marmi to Reggio Emilia

The last leg was all set to depart at 9 am from the circuit in Piazza Marconi at Forte dei Marmi.

The weather forecast was looking bleak with snow expected at Passo del Cerreto, and so the cars were divided into groups and escorted by the magnificent Highway Police officers.

The crews said goodbye to Versilia and the coast and headed off towards Sarzana and its old medieval town centre, clearly seen with the ancient Citadel and Firmafede fort built by Lorenzo the Magnificent. There was time for a drive through the centre and a short coffee break and then the crews were off again, driving up 1261 metres and crossing Passo del Cerreto covered by an incredible blanket of snow in an unexpected show of winter. But this is what the Terre di Canossa is all about: spring bursting into bloom, alternating the summer sun with the last of the winter’s snow.

The crews reached Reggio Emilia ahead of the parade in Piazza della Vittoria planned for 1 pm when the cars were presented to the public just before the last challenge in Piazza del Duomo to take home the “Trofeo Tricolore”.

The final lunch and Awards Ceremony were held at Ruote da Sogno, the Main Sponsor of the event along with Lavor.