Welcome to the
First Florida Chapter MVPA
Supply Line September/October 2001
La Strada del Cuore
This article was written by club members Dick and Diane Deren #301 and published in the National MVPA Supply Line, September/October of 2001.
when we found out we would be vacationing in Italy, our first thought was
to see what military vehicle event might be going on while we were there.
We had fond memories of the D-Day Anniversaries we had attended in
Portsmouth, England and in Normandy, France in 1989 and 1994.
At those events we had the privilege of
attending with the British
club, the Military Vehicle Trust. We
enjoyed being part of an international group that shared our interests in
history, military vehicles and in honoring the veterans who fought there.
We looked forward to having that experience again.
So, when our trip to Italy was in the planning stages, we decided
to get in touch with the Italian club affiliated with the MVPA.
Not speaking any Italian ourselves, we were very fortunate to
find a friend in Maurizio Beretta, who helped us with all of our planning
and then acted as our guide and interpreter
after we arrived.
He made sure we
had an "authentic Italian experience”.
The event, "La Strada del Cuore" took place on June 2 and
3, 2001. It was sponsored by
the Associazione Veicoli Storici - Militari Emilia - Romagna. The chairman
of the event, which went off flawlessly, was the very energetic Signor
Gabriele Ravanelli and his helpful staff, Signor Filippo Spadi and Signor
Corso Boccia. First, for those of you who have never been to an event in
Europe, try to participate in one, at least once.
This particular event did not have a Flea Market, vehicle judging
or a formal banquet with speeches and awards.
Don't get us wrong; we also like to attend those types of events.
participating in a Strada del Cuore was more like reliving a piece of
history, and many families participated.
Instead of the typical short trail ride we do at many American
events, about 60 military vehicles (mostly WW II) drove about 50
kilometers (about 30 miles) through the beautiful wine country of Tuscany,
both Saturday and Sunday. We traveled along the same roads the
British 8th Army used when they fought to liberate this part of Italy from
German occupation some 57 years ago. Some of those same veterans rode along with us, observing
every hill and vale, perhaps in the very same vehicles.
We watched as
the mountains, valleys, castles and beautiful old churches passed by.
The hills of Chianti were alive with the unmistakable sounds of
vintage military vehicles, both tracked and wheeled, armored and
soft-skinned. Vehicles from
all over Italy took part in this event, but, as it is in the States, the
majority of them were American. There
were, however, some nice examples of WW II Italian vehicles, which you
never see in America, as well as British Commonwealth and German vehicles.
There was a
nice cross-section of American vehicles from quarter-tons to an M4A1
Sherman. Included were Dodge
WC's, a CCKW (named "Tipper"), a White half-track, a GPA, and
many MB/GPWs. Several of the
MB/GPW's were restored as British or Canadian units, i.e. "Mickey
Mouse" pattern camouflage and British or
This is something you do not often see in the U.S.
Of the actual British Commonwealth vehicles, three were of Canadian
origin and one was British. Among
them were a GMC Fox, a Chevrolet C15, a Universal Carrier and an Ariel
W/NG motorcycle. The WW II
German equipment consisted of a BMW motorcycle and a Zundapp motorcycle.
The Italian equipment is, we were told, very rare, even in Italy.
There were SPA artillery tractors, a Fiat Field Car and a Moto
Guzzi motorcycle from WW II, and a postwar Fiat 1101A. Other postwar
vehicles included a 6x6, a HMMWV, an M151 and an Auto Union (DKW) F91/4
Munga. All the vehicles we
saw were nicely restored and well kept.
They all made it through the weekend; there were no breakdowns or
major problems. Hats off to
our fellow hobbyists in Italy!
Our convoy left Greve in Chianti on Saturday morning complete with a police escort. We rode in a Dodge WC Command Car driven by Signor Aldo Passadore as we snaked through the mountains and valleys with people coming out to cheer us along the road. Some of them remembered the first time the British came through and were thrilled to see the veterans and vehicles again. Our first stop was in San Casciano, where the veterans, vehicles and collectors were welcomed by a brass band, speeches by dignitaries and a crowd of hundreds. While we had the vehicles on display we were treated to refreshments - delicious Chianti wine (what else?) and Italian bread. What a wonderful reception! The crowds were so warm and appreciative. Then we were back on the road to our next stop at the American cemetery in Florence, which is a beautiful tribute to our fallen American soldiers.
Then on to
Antella for another vehicle display and a delicious lunch (crostini
toscani, risotto agli spinaci, tortellini al sugo and more) with lots of
wine and fellowship. Our last
stop on Saturday was back in Greve where we again displayed the vehicles
the Piazza (town square). Apparently the Italians do not have the same
litigious society we have, because children climbing on the Sherman did
not cause a lot of concern. When I asked about the fear of being sued, I
was told that children are the responsibility of their parents and if they
get hurt on a parked vehicle, the vehicle owner is not to blame.
What common sense! If
we could only take a lesson from the Italians!
On Sunday we
rode with Signor Dante Marchini and his son, Luca in their 1943 GPW.
We traveled to lmpruneta in convoy and there set up another vehicle
display in their Piazza. We toured the beautiful Basilica di Santa Maria and the
Cloister and thoroughly enjoyed sharing our historic vehicles with the
very enthusiastic residents. When
we returned to the Piazza in Greve, the American vehicles entered first. Then the British veterans marched in to the sound of
bagpipes. They were followed
by the British vehicles, the Italian vehicles and the German motorcycles.
Then, last but not least, the Italian Partisans, followed by the M4A1
Sherman and the Ford M8 Greyhound Armored Car, thundered into the Piazza
from a narrow side street to the applause of the crowd.
We had another delicious catered lunch and more delicious wines to
finish up the weekend.
This was an
exciting event for the veterans, too.
We asked one of them if the countryside was much the same as he
remembered it. His reply was
that he was "too busy trying to stay alive the last time he was
here" and really didn't get to enjoy the scenery that time, but he
sure did this time!
Again, we are
very thankful for having had the opportunity to experience Italy, its
culture, the food, the veterans and the very helpful and friendly members
of the Italian vehicle club, all on the same ground where this part of
history actually happened. We
were even made honorary members of the Associazione Veicoli Storici.
We are grateful
that we in America did not have the soldiers, the fighting and the dying
happening right here on our soil, but by attending an event like this,
seeing the thousands of American Graves in Florence and hearing the
stories of the actual veterans who had fought right there, our hobby is
brought into perspective. We
are not just a club that collects vehicles like so many other car clubs.
We are a club whose aim is to preserve the military vehicles as a
part of history and to honor our veterans and the sacrifices they have
The United States Cemetery in Florence, Italy
United States Military Vehicles
Foreign Military Vehicles