Posted by: Jerry Garrett | June 14, 2017

Driving My Mercedes From LA To Italy – Day 31 Under The Tuscan Sun

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Mercedes-Benz organizes Tuscan tours in classic SL vehicles like these.

LIVORNO, Italy

Welcome to Tuscany, to the Duesseldorf Express cargo ship, which arrived at the port here yesterday.

In one of the containers onboard sits my 1973 Mercedes-Benz 450 SL, which is on the final leg of its epic journey to me in Genoa (Genova). It is supposed to arrive tomorrow (Thursday), a day behind schedule thanks to delays that have been encountered at stops in Italian ports such as Cagliari and Livorno.

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Location of the ship 5/14

The delays will translate to a further five-day delay in me receiving the car in Genoa – the container won’t be unloaded until Friday, which is now too late to do anything before the weekend looms. Nobody works in Italy on Saturday and Sunday; Monday might be inconvenient too, says the customs agent handling my shipment. So, figure on Tuesday, June 20.

Oh well. This is Italy. Delays have already caused the Mercedes to miss the Mille Miglia sports car tour, Villa d’Este car show, the Monaco Grand Prix, and the Mercedes-Benz tour. You know, almost all of the things I wanted to ship it to Italy for. It is already a month late; what’s another week?

This journey started April 13 when the car finally was picked up at my house on the U.S. west coast and transported to the cargo loading facility in Gardena, California. It sat around there for an entire month, until finally on May 13 the container was loaded on the ship, to begin a 5,900+ mile odyssey down the west coast of Mexico, through the Panama Canal, across the Caribbean Sea and then the Atlantic, and now the Mediterranean.

I could have picked up the Mercedes here in Livorno, but Genoa is a few hours closer to where I am staying, near the France-Italy border. Though most of Tuscany is land-locked – and most foreigners think of that way – a small western portion of the state is on the Ligurian Sea coast.

This kind of Mercedes, I have discovered, is a popular item around these parts – especially in the Tuscan interior. A number of tour companies operate itineraries that travel around to various Tuscan hill towns like Siena, San Gimignano and Montalcino in classic SLs from the 1960s and 1970s. At least one of these tour packages is backed officially by Mercedes-Benz.

The official M-B tours happen twice a year; one just happened the first week of June. Another is coming up the first week of September. They last three nights, and parts of four days. Up to 18 people can participate; everyone flies into Florence and is transported to a castle near Siena called Borgo Scopeto (it was featured in the 2010 rom-com “Letters To Juliet” and written about in this blog).

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Borgo Scopeto

The price? 1,995 euro, per person, double occupancy.

Maybe I should look into renting my car out for one of these things. It might help defray the costs of shipping it here.

Jerry Garrett

June 14, 2017

 

 

 

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