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Old 10th October 2018, 16:10   #1
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Default Ontario, New York & Italy: Cars, food and road trips!

There are 3 things I thoroughly enjoy: Automobiles, Food and Travelling.

Last year I had the opportunity the combine all three and take an amazing vacation. My wife and I needed to go to Toronto, Canada to attend her cousins wedding. We decided to spend a week in NYC after the wedding, and then spend a couple of weeks in Italy on the way back. So the original plan of going to Toronto for 10 days, turned into a vacation, over a month long, and I am so happy it did.

This will primarily be a photologue of the interesting bits from my trip, as I am not good with words, I am not good with photos either, but somethings gotta give! All photos have been clicked from my phone, so pardon the quality.

I’ll start with our trips in Canada, which included a Trip to the Niagara falls and a trip to Picton, which is the wine making area close to Toronto.
Pictures from our drive to Niagara falls and the fruit picking farms nearby. I wasn’t very keen on the fruit picking stopover, but it was highly recommended. However I have to admit it was very pretty enjoyable. The vast expanse of fruit trees, the beautiful blue sky and the experience of eating freshly picked fruits was worth it. The way it works is, you pay an entry fee, all the fruits that you eat while in the farm are free, and whatever you pick to take home are chargeable. Almost all the fruits we found and ate, I’ve never had in India.

In farm transport

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Fruit trees

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The Canadian Niagara falls

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Following are the pictures from our drive to Picton. I absolutely loved this place, it’s got gorgeous country side, beautiful harbour, great restaurants, many wineries and tours, and is slow paced, making it an ideal place to relax after a hectic wedding.

Picton harbour

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Massive Jenga!

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One of the many wineries

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The famous sandbank beaches

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After Canada, we went to New York to hang out with our cousins and friends. The things that stood out for me were, watching Lion King on Broadway, Central Park and mind blowing variety of food, most of which tasted exceptional.

We had decided to visit Italy on the way back, primarily because my younger sister is studying in Florence, and we hadn't visited her in the two years she's been there. The fact that Italy is home to some of the best automobile marques, and drool worthy food, was just such a happy coincidence.

We had our inward and outbound flights from Rome and had decided to visit Rome as the last leg of our journey. We were mostly winging our trip, except for the flights and car, nothing else was booked. After reaching a place, we would decide where to go next and then book an Airbnb. Due to this reason, we did not want to be driving from somewhere to Rome on the day of our return flight, and have the associated stress.

Booking the flights was easy, I hadn’t even booked accommodations, but what was tough was the choice of car for the trip. I didn’t want to spend much because the long trip had already left a huge hole in the pocket, but I wanted to drive something different from what’s available in India. The manual cars were cheaper, had more options and allowed me to get a car of the higher category. But I ultimately decided to get an automatic, as I had planned to do large distances and this was the first time I’d be driving a LHD car and I wanted to keep it as simple as possible. I was highly advised by my sister and friends to get as small a car as possible as some historic towns have a real paucity of space.

Ultimately I decided to get a Fiat 500 AMT. It wasn’t as exciting a car as I originally wanted to get, but it looked great, felt characterful and thankfully was small enough and thus not intimidating to drive, in the narrow town centres, on the left hand.

We landed and straight away collected the car. Following which we bought a local Vodafone sim and then headed out to Florence. We avoided toll roads, as I wasn’t sure how they worked in Italy, an upside of this was that we got to drive on some gorgeous roads, and avoided the dreary highways. While in Florence, we had some amazing food!

Beautiful drive from Rome to Florence

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Florence town centre

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The Duomo cathedral

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Photo from the ponte vecchio

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Florence vista

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After spending a couple of nights in Florence, we decided to go and visit the colourful and coastal Cinque Terre. We decided to stop and visit the Leaning Tower of Pisa, which was only a minor detour. The 5 villages making up Cinque Terre, cannot be reached by cars, so we decided to get an Airbnb in La Spezia and take the train into the villages.

The Leaning Tower of Pisa and the adjoining cathedral

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Photos can not do justice to how insane the lean is

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Pictures from Cinque Terre

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Last edited by Aditya : 15th May 2019 at 17:53.
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Old 11th October 2018, 14:43   #2
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From Cinque Terre we went northward to what was the most beautiful city that we visited in Italy, the lake como district. Photos and words can not do justice to color of the lake, and just how pretty all the surrounding villages were. We stayed in a gorgeous airbnb in Varenna, as Varenna was easily accessible by car and was one of the less commercial villages on the lake.

Stopped for lunch in Como

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Our bnb was in a small farmhouse, with a nice garage. That's our rented Fiat 500 parked in the garage.

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The bnb occupied the whole 1st floor of this beautiful house

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We got a gorgeous sunset

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The town is close to where Moto Guzzi was founded and houses the Moto Guzzi museum, which unfortunately I couldn't visit. Many shops in the town, including restaurants, souvenir shops etc. had a vintage Moto Guzzi parked in them!

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The next day we took a unlimited ferry pass and visited some of the other gorgeous villages surrounding the Italian side of lake como.

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Th following day we left Varenna early, for Bologna. This was the day that I was really excited about, as I planned to visit the Enzo Ferrari museum in Modena, The Pagani factory and museum and then the Lamborghini Museum. All of these were within a short drive of each other.

On the way to Bologna we saw the Alpha Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio being tested.

Ferrari has 2 museums in Italy, one is the Enzo Ferrari museum in Modena, which is focused more towards road cars and engines. The other is the one adjoining the factory in Maranello which focuses more on F1 cars and additionally one can take the factory tour there. I had time for only 1 museum and chose the one in Modena, as i was more inclined towards road cars over F1 cars and wanted to see Enzo's house. Also I was already doing the Pagani factory tour so I was okay skipping the Ferrari factory tour. We bought the tickets online.

The display in the Modena museum is revolving and theme based. When we visited, the theme was Driving with the stars and focused on the Ferrari being the choice car for celebrities.

The entrance to the hall

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The Arno XI. The maker of the boat, Castoldi wanted to establish a world water speed record so he persuaded then Ferrari racing drivers Alberto Ascari and Luigi Villoresi to influence Enzo Ferrari to supply him with a 4.5-litre, V12 Ferrari engine; the same engine that gave Ferrari his first Grand Prix victory in 1951.

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The 166 MM Touring Superleggera. This model went on to score many of Ferrari’s early international victories, making the manufacturer a serious competitor in the racing industry.

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The 340 MM Vignale

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275 GTB. Very pretty and very expensive.

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Dino 206 GT

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2 Films were played while we visited, one focusing on Enzo and how he formed Ferrari and the second on celebrities who owned Ferrari's.

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The 330 GTC

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The 365 GT 2+2

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The 250 GT

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The GTO. The GTO was built to compete in the new Group B Circuit Race series and a minimum of 200 cars were required for homologation. Due to lackluster participation caused by these regulations, the Group B Circuit series never took off. As a result, the GTO never raced and all 272 cars built remained purely road cars. All of them came in a stock red color, except one which was black.

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Last edited by Aditya : 15th May 2019 at 17:47. Reason: Removed last two pictures from the post as requested.
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Old 12th October 2018, 15:43   #3
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My Dream Car: The F40. This was the successor to the 288 GTO, it was designed to celebrate Ferrari's 40th anniversary and was the last Ferrari automobile personally approved by Enzo Ferrari. The planned production run was of 400 units, however Ferrari ended up making 1311 units.

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Another favorite, the F430 Schuderia

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Jay Kay's green Laferrari. The Ferrari LaFerrari is currently the top dog of Ferrari’s roadcar programme. It's a carbon, two-seat hypercar with a 6.3-litre V12 with a KERS battery pack and electric motor to give 950bhp and 663lb ft of torque. Only 499 were built, available only to serious Ferrari collectors. Jay Kay got his in the Kermit fog green color.

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The Testarossa. Made very popular due to pop culture, TV shows and it's list of celebrity owners.

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The Enzo Ferrari. It made huge waves through the industry when it debuted, and it remains one of Ferrari’s most loved and sought-after modern models. Only 400 were ever produced. The Ferrari Enzo was a world-beater when it debuted back in 2002. Its advanced suspension, high-strung naturally aspirated V12, and automated single clutch paddle-shift transmission were all as cutting-edge as it got back then.

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Eric Clapton's SP 12 EC is part of the Ferrari's One Off program. It was created in 2012 using a 458 Italia as the base, while the looks were inspired by Clapton's favorite Ferrari the 512BB. The estimated cost of this one off is USD 4.7 mn.

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The F12tdf

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Me, soaking in the display

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Enzo Ferrari's house has been converted into a museum for engines and race cars.

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A 1947 1.5L V12 making 118 bhp @ 6800 rpm

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Enzo's office has been maintained exactly as it were when he used it

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The engines and race car display

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2004 360 GTC

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1985 GTO Evoluzione

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2011 Laferrari Prototype. This car was used for testing the V12 engine, steering, suspension, brakes and ESP, which were later fitted to the LaFerrari.

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2003 575 GTC

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1987 2936cc 90 degree V8 making 48 bhp @ 7000 rpm first used in the F40

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1985 156/85. The 156 stands for 1500cc and 6 cylinders. It had a declared output of 780 bhp but was capable of producing over 1000 bhp. It was the product of a completely new project with Kevlar and CF monocoque and a turbo engine.

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2009 F60: the KERS was introduced with this car.

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The engine and other components of the KERS system

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Last edited by keshavarora : 15th May 2019 at 14:30.
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Old 24th October 2018, 15:43   #4
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After ogling at Ferrari's all morning, we set out for our next stop, Pagani. We followed Google maps to a smallish building, which we couldn't believe would house the manufacturing plant and museum for a brand as famous as Pagani. Upon inquiring, we were told that this was the original Pagani factory but now this is the design and R&D centre. So that is the building where Horacio Pagani works and all Pagani's are designed. We were told that the factory and museum had shifted to a new and much bigger premises nearby, a few years ago. So we quickly went to the new building and booked a museum tour and a factory tour. This may sound blasphemous, but after seeing Pagani's the cars at Ferrari's seem almost lacking in design and desirability. The fact that the most expensive Ferrari (Laferrari) costs lesser than the base Huayra may have something to do with it

The old factory which is now used for design and R&D only

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The new factory

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One of the first things that one sees upon entering is this impressive map showcasing all Italian automobile manufacturers, museums and circuits.

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The first part of the tour is a video giving a background on Horacio Pagani and the Pagani Automobili. The Video starts with how Horacio was born in a small town in Argentina and how he picked up the art of making scale models out of wood and chocolate cans at a very young age. The video goes on to show that Horacio created a go cart and a mini bike in his early teens and how he started a fabrication factory, where he was the sole worker, by the time he was twenty. Soon after which Pagani built his first F3 race car, following which Pagani was hired by Renault to improve the body of their racing car.

Horacio's mentor Oreste Berta, a famous racing cars coach, took him to meet Juan Manuel Fangio, the famous F1 driver, who at the time was the president of Mercedes-Benz Argentina. Fangio listened to his projects and wrote five letters to the leading manufacturers of Italian sports cars. Lamborghini was interested so Pagani visited Lamborghini and met with the company's chief technical director Giulio Alfieri. In 1982, he decided to move to Italy and he was hired by Lamborghini, where he was hired as a very junior employee and even had to sweep floors initially, however was able to work his way up quickly and eventually became chief engineer at Lamborghini. as chief engineer he built the Countach Evoluzione concept. He tried to persuade Lamborghini to buy an autoclave so they could extend the production of the carbon parts for the Evoluzione. They refused, saying that Ferrari did not have an autoclave, so Lamborghini didn't need one. Pagani borrowed the capital to buy his own autoclave late in 1987 and founded Pagani Composite Research in 1988. This new company worked with Lamborghini on numerous projects, including the restyling of the 25th Anniversary Countach, the Lamborghini LM002, the Lamborghini P140 design concept, and the Diablo. In 1991 Pagani founded his own consultancy called Modena Design which continues to make carbon fibre composites for Formula One cars and other clients like Daimler, Ferrari and Aprilia.

Fangio advised Pagani to build his own car, so in 1992 Pagani Automobili Modena was founded by Pagani. The first car he produced was the Zonda which took seven years to complete, Initially Pagani wanted to call the Zonda the Fangio F1 to honour his great friend, however after Fangio's death in 1995 the name was dropped out of respect. Fangio was also the one who organised the supply of AMG engines for Pagani's cars.

After the video, we were given the tour of the museum by an employee.

The museum

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The Pagani Renault racer which launched Pagani's career

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The Countach and some of Pagani's scale models that he made as a child

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The 550,000 kms driven Zonda LaNonna or Zonda Grandmother

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How beautiful is that luggage compartment?

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The Zonda S

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The beautiful Zonda F. The F was homage to Fangio and was limited to 25 cars.

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The even better looking Roadster F in Singapore Orange, also limited to 25 cars. It was also probably the first car to have the same weight for a roadster and coupe.

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The cinque was the road going version of the Zonda R and was limited to 5 for the coupe and 5 for the roadster, hence the name. It was also the first Pagani to use the now standard carbo-tanium i.e. carbon fibre with a titanium weave.

The super striking Cinque roadster

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Finally the manic Zonda R Evolución using the 6.0 litre V12 M120 engine sourced from the race version of the Mercedes-Benz CLK-GTR. The Zonda R was almost entirely new and used only 10% of the same components as the Zonda F. Also the Zonda R was basically a test bed for some components that were being developed for the Huayra. The Zonda R set a record at the Nürburgring for production based cars in June 2010 by completing the track in 6:47. The R Evolución was an updated version of the Zonda R with many changes to the aerodynamics.

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The AMG sourced engines. Even they look like works of art.

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Sometime during the end of the tour we noticed a Huayra being reversed out of the factory. We were told that it all cars are tested on the roads around the factory before being considered ready for delivery. After the road test is successful, the car is taken back to the factory, cleaned, new alloys and tyres are put on and then the car is ready for the customer.

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After the museum tour, I chose to do the factory tour as well. For the factory tour mobiles were not allowed. Following are some of the highlights.

1) The factory is designed by Pagani's eldest son, Leonardo and designed to look like an Italian piazza, surrounded by Renaissance arches, street lamps, islands of vegetation, cobblestones floors and it has clock placed on a tower.

2) The first thing that we saw was Carbo-tanium in varied stages of readiness. It was fascinating to see how the titanium weave runs through the CF.

3) Unlike normal factories there is no assembly line and there are different areas for different stages of production. Also at a time one or two cars are only worked upon.

4) We got to see the cars currently being worked upon i.e. the Huayra.

5) We got to see the massive Autoclaves.

6) We got to see many Zonda's in the factory, including a tricolore. While most of them were there for service and repairs, we were told that some customers chose to leave their cars at the factory and when they come to Europe or Italy, they take the car and then leave it with the factory again.

7) Considering the small number of cars that Pagani makes, it was shocking to see so many cars come in for service and repairs at a given time.

8) The company has a weird predicament, they have more cars than customers i.e. most of their customers are collectors and have many Pagani's. I asked what is the maximum number of Pagani's owned by a single person and was shocked to know the answer. Someone owns 18 of them! The employee did not disclose the name.

9) Pagani is very clear that they are not a conventional automobile manufacturer. They only do 3 things with regards to making cars i.e. design cars, make composite materials (carbo-tanium) and assemble cars. The philosophy is to get all components from whoever does them best. So Pagani is the world's leading car design and manufacturer of composite material, the brakes are from brembo, the engines from AMG, the speakers from Sonos Faber etc. They take pride in using the best parts and proudly name all their suppliers.

10) After the tour we were encouraged to use the washrooms, as they display Pagani's other interest; CF home fittings. Look at this CF washroom!

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Old 29th October 2018, 15:13   #5
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By the time we finished with the Pagani tour, it was already late afternoon. We were determined to visit the Lamborghini museum before we drove further to Bologna. Due to the paucity of time, we decided to skip lunch and head straight to the Lambo museum. Tickets are available at the counter easily.

This was the only museum of the 3 that did not have any video of the founder, or history of the brand. There was a timeline of the history of the company, but nothing singing praises of the bold Mr. Ferruccio Lamborghini.

The Lambo shade card

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The 350 GT was the first production vehicle by Lamborghini and this model's success ensured the company's survival and established Lambo as a viable rival to Ferrari.

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The concept Miura was presented to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the original Miura. In my opinion the original looks much better.

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The gorgeous original Miura. It was first mainstream car to use the rear, mid engine, 2 seat layout, which is now almost synonymous with super cars. It was developed by the engineering team in their spare time, against the wishes of Ferruccio, as he preferred GT cars to sports cars.

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The Diablo VT with CF center console

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Lamborghini had toyed with the idea of producing a lower priced car on several occasions. The project, conceived by Marcello Gandini, had reached a relatively advanced stage and the car featured a characteristic removable hood and a bonded and riveted aluminium monocoque. The engine was the first V10 made by Lamborghini. A 4 wheel drive version of the P140 was also evaluated. In 1987, following the purchase of Lamborghini by the Chrysler group, the project was Axed.

The P140

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The Estoque was a concept front engined, four door sedan which was unvield in 2008. It was the first front engined lambo since the LM002. It still looks striking and superb 10 years on. I wish this went into production.

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The Sesto Elemento, or sixth element ie Carbon, is a limited edition Lamborghini. Only 30 cars were produced with a price of 2.92 million USD. The car uses carbon extensively to keep it weight down to only 999 Kgs!

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The Asterion was a concept car unveiled in 2014 and was meant to be Lamborghini's first hybrid car. It had a V10 engine and three electric motors. The concept was shelved in favor of the Urus, based on customer reactions.

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Since i went on this trip in Sept 2017, the Urus was still a concept car.

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The LM002 was based on the LMA002 ie Lamborghini Militaria anteriore 002 or front-engined military Lamborghini 002. It was the successor of the Cheetah and the LM001, which had many handling issues due to their American made engine being rear mounted. To correct these, the engine was moved to the front, liberating a lot of space at the rear. The LM002 used the V12 from the Countach, thus providing ample power.

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Old 14th November 2018, 13:36   #6
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The V10 from the Gallardo LP 560 on the left and the V12 from the Murcielago LP 640 on the right

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In 1968 Ferruccio Lamborghini started utilizing factory engines in speedboats, beginning with the Riva, a family owned boat with 2 engines derived from the 400GT. At the beginning of the 80s a dedicated V12 nautical competition engine was developed with a significantly larger displacement. The first offshore title was won in 1984 and Motori Marini Lamborghini was founded in 1999 and became responsible for the construction and maintenance of over 400 engines.

In 1998 the Spirit of Norway was awarded with the offshore title. The winning boat was driven by two 850bhp engines equipped with a 6 speed electro-pneumatic Lamborghini gearbox and a desmodromic sequential lever.

Probably the most beautiful engine I've ever seen.

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The Lamborghini timeline wall

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The Lambo museum is spread over 2 floors i.e. ground and first floor. The following exhibit is from the first floor.

Lamborghini Urraco

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The iconic Lamborghini Countach is probably one of the most recognizable super cars, thanks to it's design courtesy of Bertone.

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Blancpain Racing Lamborghini Gallardo GT3

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The Aventador Spyder affixed on a wall

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The Huracan

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Lamborghini Aventador LP700-4 Rolling Chassi

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Lamborghini Reventon debuted in 2007 for USD 1.5 million and was the most expensive Lamborghini at the time. The top speed was tested in UAE at 355.70 kmph. Only 20 were made for the public while one additional was made for the museum and was marked as 00/20.

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For the company's 50th birthday, the Veneno was unveiled. It is based on the the Aventador LP 700-4 and only 3 units were made, priced at approx USD 3.9 million.

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Lamborghini engineering was established in 1987 at the request of Lee Iacocca, chairman of Chrysler and Lamborghini at the time, aiming at developing a new Formula 1 engine. Chief designer Mauro Forghieri developed a 3.5L V12 with a dry weight of 152 kgs, producing 710 hp at 13600 rmp.

However in 1994 Chrysler agreed to sell Lamborghini to Indonesian group MegaTech and from this moment on Lamborghini Engineering ceased to operate, inspite of having been appreciated by many, including Ayrton Senna, who had tested the Lambo V12.

The Lamborghini F1 weighed 510 kgs, was equipped with a highly advanced chassis and a transverse 6 speed gearbox, both never seen before. It was initially developed for the GLAS team but later Lambo decided to go ahead with the project autonomously. The contract allowed the team to enter the 1991 season under the name Modena team.

The Lambo F1

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Senna tested the below F1 car at Estoril

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At the time we visited, the museum had a temporary exhibit in honor of Senna, this was such a massive pleasant surprise.

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Van Diemen International, Ltd. was a British race car manufacturer based in Snetterton, Norfolk, United Kingdom. Ayrton Senna made his European racing debut in 1981 Formula Ford 1600 championships, driving Van Diemen chassis. After winning the 1600 championships he graduated into Formula Ford 2000, again driving Van Diemens. In 1982 Senna won both the British and European Formula Ford 2000 championships.

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In 1983, Senna drove in the British Formula Three Championship for the West Surrey Racing team.

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In 1984 Senna made his F1 debut with the Toleman Motorsports

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In 1985 Senna moved to Lotus and drove the gorgeous 97T

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In 1988, due to the relationship he had built up with Honda throughout the 1987 season with Lotus, and with the approval of McLaren's number-one driver and then-double world champion, Alain Prost, Senna joined the McLaren team. Senna won 3 world championships with Mclaren.

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In 1994 Senna joined Williams F1

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A tribute to Senna

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So happy to be able to dedicate a sentence to Senna.

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The limited edition Ducati 916 Senna

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Old 5th December 2018, 14:14   #7
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After a long but super exciting day visiting Ferrari, Lamborghini and Pagani, we reached Bologna in the night. Bologna is an exciting city but we did not find any exciting tourists attractions. What makes the city exciting is that it's always buzzing due to the many students in the city and the amazing food. Bologna provided the best food in Italy, hands down, and that really is saying something.

After spending a couple of nights in Bologna, we left for the province of Rimini. We wanted to visit a town on the east coast of Italy and use it as a base to visit San Marino, which is a land locked country within Italy and claims to be the oldest republic in the world. Rimini is a coastal town and has a good beach and nightlife culture, however the water was too cold to go swimming and we proffered quite places, so we chose to stay in the farmlands of the province of Rimini.

The drive into the farmlands of Rimini was breathtaking.

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The B&B had a swimming pool with a gorgeous view

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Soon after reaching our B&B we left for San Marino. The main town is located at a height, so one has to take park their car and take a cable car to the reach the town center. The views from here are breathtaking.

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One of the 3 towers of San Marino

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A festival celebrating the medieval culture of San Marino, with a crossbow competition

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As per the suggestion by our B&B host, we went to San Leo to watch a beautiful sunset and have a great dinner.

The Fortress of San Leo

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We watched beautiful sunset and had a great dinner in San Leo

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We chose to stay in the Rimini province for more than just visiting San Marino and San Leo. Next morning was the Aragon GP and we had somewhere special to be to watch the race.

The beautiful farmlands of Rimini

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The only time I've seen the famous Repsol petro brand

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The city that I have been wanting to visit from many years

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The VR46 office which designs and makes clothing and other merchandise for Rossi and many other racers and teams

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Sky Racing Team by VR46 office

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We had managed to book a table at Rossi's restaurant to watch the GP. The drive from when you enter Tavullia, to the restaurant and the official fan club is mesmerizing. The whole route is full of posters, steamers, flags etc.

The restaurant and the official fan club

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The restaurant decor

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We ordered some great food and enjoyed the race. Rossi came 5th with his leg injury. The atmosphere in the restaurant was amazing.

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After the race we visited the official store, the gelateria and the official fan club.

The porch connecting all the establishments

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The official store

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The gelateria

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The fan club office

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On the way out of Tavullia, we had to make one more stop

The ranch

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Last edited by Aditya : 15th May 2019 at 17:42.
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Old 14th May 2019, 17:32   #8
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After an amazing day at Tavullia, we set out for Rome. We decided to avoid the motorways and instead used the country roads wherever possible, to drive through the breathtaking scenery. We reached our airbnb in Rome quite late, for which the owner charged us some 20 Euro penalty and told us it was mentioned in the description and was as per the airbnb policy

Some scenery along the way to Rome

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The next day we set out sight seeing. One thing about Rome is that there is beauty and history everywhere, it is so difficult to keep absorb it within 2-3 days. There is sights and buildings around every corner which are exquisite!

The Colosseum. One of the new 7 wonders of the world.

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Piazza Venezia. During a brief period, it was a Papal building and then, from 1564 to 1797 it was seat for the delegation of the Most Serene Republic in the Papal States. Over the Fascism years, from 1929, it became official seat for the Head of Government and Benito Mussolini used to look out the balcony to give his speeches.

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Piazza di Spagna. Placed at the feet of the scenographic steps of Trinità dei Monti, one of Rome's most famous images worldwide. In the center of the square is placed the Barcaccia (Ugly Boat) by Pietro and Gian Lorenzo Bernini, built to remember the overflowing of the Tiber River in 1598.

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Piazza Navona. With the Fountain of the Four Rivers by Bernini, the majestic Palazzo Pamphilj and the splendid Chuch of San'Agnese in Agone, the square represents the true quintessence of Roman Barroque.

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The day after we reached Rome, after we finished our sightseeing, we drove to the airport to return the Fiat 500. The car had been an excellent companion for the trip. The AMT was my only grouse with it, but it was fun, efficient, small for the city centers and quintessentially Italian!

A snapshot of our time with the Fiat 500

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We walked around before dinner and were mesmerized by Piazza San Pietro.

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Rome at night

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The next day was again meant for sightseeing in Rome.

The Trevi Fountain. It is the largest Baraque fountain in the city and one of the most famous fountains in the world. Coin throwing is a tradition and it is estimated that 3000 euros are thrown in the fountain everyday. The money is used to subsidize a supermarket for the needy.

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The Pantheon. It is former Roman Temple and now a Church.
It is one of the best-preserved of all Ancient Roman buildings, in large part because it has been in continuous use throughout its history and, since the 7th century, the Pantheon has been in use as a church dedicated to "St. Mary and the Martyrs"

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The next day was 27th September ie world tourism day, due to which entry into the Vatican and Sistine Chapel was made free. We were fearing that this would mean massive crowds and that the line to get in would be impossibly long. However upon reaching St. Peters Square, we saw a huge crowd had gathered to see the Pope.

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This also meant that the line to get into the Vatican museum wasn't as long as we had imagined. The Vatican museum is extraordinary in it's history and beauty. Even though my knowledge of history, specially of this part of the world is limited, the museum is still spell binding.

The view from the courtyard

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Containing over 1,000 ancient sculptures, the Museo Chiaramonti is important not only because of the striking portrait busts and statues you’ll find here, but also because this gallery represents many of these sculptures’ return home. Having been seized by Napoleon and taken to France in the late 1700’s, it wasn’t until several decades later that these pieces were recovered and brought back to be displayed in this gallery.

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The Pine Cone Courtyard is named after the or the nearly 13-foot high pinecone sitting at one end. The giant pinecone is made of bronze and dates to the 1st century BCE. The Pine Cone represent fertility. The other famous installation is unusual gold sphere found opposite it known as Sfera con Sfera, or Sphere within a Sphere. Looking slightly out of place surrounded by its much older counterparts, Sfera con Sfera is actually just one piece of a series by Arnaldo Pomodoro found in many locations around the world.

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The Octagonal Courtyard housed within the Pio-Clementine museum houses some of the best examples of ancient Greek and Roman sculptures found anywhere in the world. The museum is named for the two popes who oversaw its foundation in the late 1700's: Clement XIV and Pius VI.

From Left to Right
1) Dating to 40 BC depicting Laocoön and his sons being killed by sea serpents during the Trojan War, an event which ultimately led to the founding of Rome.
2) Apollo Belvedere, is famous for representing what the Romans once considered to be the perfect male form.
3) Belvedere Torso. Legend has it that Pope Julius II requested that Michelangelo complete the statue fragment with arms, legs and a face. He respectfully declined, stating that it was too beautiful to be altered, and instead used it as the inspiration for several of the figures in the Sistine Chapel.
4) The elegant statue of the River God.

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The Statue of the Nile god.

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The Sala Rotonda is modelled after the Pantheon, right down to oculus in the ceiling, and to the decorative rosettes in each of the little niches in the dome. It is smaller in scale than the pantheon but still impressive.

The floor is also not to be missed, It is made up of tiny, intricately designed mosaics from around the 2nd century and is simply stunning.

The hall houses a 40 foot dia porphyry basin in the center of the room. Porphyry is a purple colored igneous rock which was only available in 1 mine in ancient Egypt. The rock is full of large pieces of crystal and is extremely hard, and difficult to cut, and unbelievable heavy. In ancient Rome, Purple was the color of royalty, so emperors were obsessed with it. The hall and the surrounding rooms have many sculptures carved from this rock. However he most impressive in the bath basin, which was carved out of a single rock, which was brought in from Egypt.

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The Hall of the Chariot. Featuring statues and other sculptures depicting scenes from athletic games and competitions. The two-horse chariot in the center of the room is the most noteworthy piece in here, but you’ll also find a copy of the famous Discobolus out on display.

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Gregorian Egyptian Museum. Mummies are the main attraction here.

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The Gallery of Maps. The gallery has highly decorative ceiling and 40 geographical frescoes depicting Italy and its provinces lining the walls.

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The Gallery of Tapestries. Here you have tapestries woven in Brussels by Pieter van Aelst’s School, from the 1500's. They made the tapestries based on drawings by Raphael’s pupils.
Each tapestry took years to make. They were finely woven by the best weavers of the day out of wool but also silk, and gold and silver thread.

The Resurrection of Christ. In this tapestry, Jesus' eyes move with you as you move from left to right.

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A tapestry depicting the Last Supper.

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The Papal Apartments, so named because the popes once used this area as private residences, today the Papal Apartments are where you’ll find a large collection of rooms featuring some of the most famous frescoes in the Vatican Museums. The most well-known of these rooms are the Raphael Rooms, painted by Raphael and his school in the early 1500’s.

The most famous piece here is the School of Athens by Raphael

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Disputation of the Sacrament by Raphael

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The Proclamation of the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception by
Francesco Podesti.

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The Battle of Vienna, polish painter, Jan Matejko, is a huge, imposing oil canvass that stands 9m by 4.5m. It recounts the ending of the Turkish siege of Vienna by the Catholic army led by the Polish King.


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The Vatican museum and the Sistine Chapel really ornate ceilings. It is difficult not to gawk at them.

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The Sistine Chapel hardly needs an introduction, It houses some of the most important art works in the world, nine scenes from the book of Genesis painted onto the ceiling by none other than Michelangelo himself. The most iconic of these scenes is the Creation of Adam. The walls also have the Last Judgement by Michelangelo.

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The next day we flew back home. Of all the vacations I have taken, this is the one I miss the most.
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Old 15th May 2019, 17:56   #9
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Thread moved from the Assembly Line to Travelogues. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 16th May 2019, 11:00   #10
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Wow. This is something. Covering 3 countries in 1 trip must have been fantastic. New York is one of my favourite cities in the world, after London. I am yet to visit Canada and Italy. Your pics of Italy are drool-worthy. Loved all the pics and also the pics from the car museums.

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Originally Posted by keshavarora View Post
Jay Kay's green Laferrari. Jay Kay got his in the Kermit fog green color.
I remember seeing this very car on the streets of London back in 2016. It is stunning on the road and kudos to Jay Kay for getting it in a unique colour. On the same day, I saw the car at the Joe Macari service centre. Interestingly, this was around the time the first Grand Tour episode launched and there was a debate whether the LaFerrari could drive in electric mode only. Some owners did spec their cars that way (not all LaFerraris can drive on electric power only) and Jay Kay was one of them. I am unable to share pics of the car right now, but will do so later. However, here is a link to a video I took of the car driving in electric mode.
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