GTO 3987 on Mulholland

GTO 3987 on Mulholland

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Mitchell & son in Italy


On one of my car buying trips to Italy, I took my father along with me. He and I had a special relationship from very early on which saw us surviving a head-on collision on the Ventura Freeway, going into jazz clubs when I was still underage, traveling to Las Vegas in my Ferrari Berlinetta Lusso and generally aiding and abetting whatever was of interest at any given time. And so it was that he and I went to Milano in search of Ferraris and Maseratis. What made the trip a little unusual was that he had gotten it into his head that it was going to be his last fling--he felt he was getting old.

We spent a month in Italy together during which we bought some cars, ate well, visited Venice and saw the Italian Grand Prix at Monza where we were joined by Stuart Baumgard and his wife Beverly. Stuart had purchased my GTO from Alain de Cadenet who had purchased it from me. My father and I also paid a visit to the Ferrari factory at Maranello where we took a close look at the production line, the foundry and the dynamometer room.

One of my 'chores' on this trip--apart from trying to fulfill about a dozen requests from friends to bring back Gucci loafers--was to travel to Torino to pick up some Bizzarrini parts for my friend Matthew Ettinger who had a Bizzarrini America at the time. I was given a name, phone number and address along with a wish list of what Matthew needed. My father went with me on the train. It promised to be a routine journey with little excitement. Until, that is...

I was sitting in our compartment and realized that my father, who had gone to get us sandwiches, hadn't returned and I was getting hungry. Though he didn't speak any Italian, he was pretty good at making himself understood but I felt he might be in need of assistance. I went to look for him but didn't have far to go. Out in the corridor I found him making himself understood with a very attractive Italian woman. From the way she was looking at him--and he at her--it was obvious that the sandwiches had been forgotten and something else had taken precedence. As I went by them on my way to find food, I smiled and nodded but did not interrupt.

A few minutes later, my father joined me in the dining car.

"Do you mind if I don't go to Torino with you?" I had to think about this for a moment, as we were on a train bound for Torino as he asked the question. Seeing my blank look, my father went on to say, "This girl and I have a thing going and we thought we'd get off the train and go back to Milano together." As if he needed to ask and as if I would say no!

At the next stop, they got off the train and I went on to Torino. I would get Matthew's parts for him though the place to which I was directed appeared to be an abandoned factory of some sort and the man who received me looked like he hadn't answered a telephone in years. He checked up and down the street before allowing me to enter as though he were running a speakeasy. Later, I dined alone in a small ristorante before catching my train back to Milano. In so doing, I boarded the train early only to find that it was the wrong train. It left the quai with only me onboard to who knows where and I had to jump off as it made its way across the rail yard and walk back to the station weaving between inbound and outbound trains. I finally made it onto the correct train.

When I rejoined my father later that evening, he had a look of contentment and a deeper appreciation for all things Italian. "Will you be seeing her again?" I asked him. "I'm meeting her for lunch tomorrow," he said, adding, "If you don't mind."

Of course I didn't mind.

1 comment:

Jorge said...

Surely the anecdotes of that journey don't end there.

Terrific blog, Mr Mitchell.

Kind Regards