A taste of something potent

Browse pages
Current page

1

Current page

2

Current page

3

Current page

4

Current page

5

Current page

6

Current page

7

Current page

8

Current page

9

Current page

10

Current page

11

Current page

12

Current page

13

Current page

14

Current page

15

Current page

16

Current page

17

Current page

18

Current page

19

Current page

20

Current page

21

Current page

22

Current page

23

Current page

24

Current page

25

Current page

26

Current page

27

Current page

28

Current page

29

Current page

30

Current page

31

Current page

32

Current page

33

Current page

34

Current page

35

Current page

36

Current page

37

Current page

38

Current page

39

Current page

40

Current page

41

Current page

42

Current page

43

Current page

44

Current page

45

Current page

46

Current page

47

Current page

48

Current page

49

Current page

50

Current page

51

Current page

52

Current page

53

Current page

54

Current page

55

Current page

56

Current page

57

Current page

58

Current page

59

Current page

60

Current page

61

Current page

62

Current page

63

Current page

64

Current page

65

Current page

66

Current page

67

Current page

68

Current page

69

Current page

70

Current page

71

Current page

72

Current page

73

Current page

74

Current page

75

Current page

76

Current page

77

Current page

78

Current page

79

Current page

80

Current page

81

Current page

82

Current page

83

Current page

84

Current page

85

Current page

86

Current page

87

Current page

88

Current page

89

Current page

90

Current page

91

Current page

92

Current page

93

Current page

94

Current page

95

Current page

96

Current page

97

Current page

98

Current page

99

Current page

100

Current page

101

Current page

102

Current page

103

Current page

104

Current page

105

Current page

106

Current page

107

Current page

108

Current page

109

Current page

110

Current page

111

Current page

112

Current page

113

Current page

114

Current page

115

Current page

116

Current page

117

Current page

118

Current page

119

Current page

120

Current page

121

Current page

122

Current page

123

Current page

124

Current page

125

Current page

126

Current page

127

Current page

128

Current page

129

Current page

130

Current page

131

Current page

132

Current page

133

Current page

134

Current page

135

Current page

136

Current page

137

Current page

138

Current page

139

Current page

140

Current page

141

Current page

142

Current page

143

Current page

144

Current page

145

Current page

146

Current page

147

Current page

148

Current page

149

Current page

150

Current page

151

Current page

152

Current page

153

Current page

154

Current page

155

Current page

156

Current page

157

Current page

158

Current page

159

Current page

160

Current page

161

Current page

162

Current page

163

Current page

164

Current page

165

Current page

166

Current page

167

Current page

168

Current page

169

Current page

170

Current page

171

As part of its 150th anniversary celebrations, an Italian institution conjured a cocktail of vermouth and famous competition cars…

For motor racing fans, our arrival provided the highlight. As dusk settled over Lake Como, lights twinkling on the hills and the sun setting behind the mountains beyond, we walked across the floodlit lawns of Villa Erba and onto a red carpet.

Lined up on each side of the walkway were cars that raced in Martini colours, a small selection of the machines that carried the distinctive red and blue stripes to countless victories across the world.

This was a stroll through history. Yet to come were the drinks, the speeches, the supermodels and the music. In celebration of the 150th anniversary of this motor sport-infused cocktail, Martini invited 700 people to a party featuring never-ending supplies of their product, a surprise appearance by Lily Allen on a floating stage in the lake and some late-night musical carnage from trendy DJ Mark Ronson. For those of us who know Martini as a sponsor of some of the sport’s great cars there was a chance to chat with Emanuele Pirro and Miki Biasion, who both carried the famous stripes.

“It was special to be sponsored by them,” Pirro said, “especially for me as an Italian. Along with Gulf’s, the livery is surely the best in the world. And this year at Monza, I raced a Martini Porsche 911 in the Supercup race supporting the Italian Grand Prix. That was just an amazing experience. You know, I was one of the first Italian drivers to be sponsored by Martini, and for me it meant I was on the way to achieving my dream. To be back at Monza this year was emotional, and I was a little bit nervous, but the GT3 is fantastic to drive. I’d like another go.”

In the darkness we wandered among the cars. A Gordon Murray Brabham BT45, fittingly belonging to Manfredo Rossi, is surely one of the most beautiful Grand Prix cars of all time. A Lancia Delta Integrale, made famous by Biasion, rallying’s world champion in 1988 and ’89. A Porsche 917, the red and blue stripes on white bodywork making the car look ever faster. And then there was the new hybrid Porsche 918 supercar, driven down from Stuttgart by two young, very serious engineers who worked on the development and who were still grinning from the autobahn experience.

Late into the night, as dew settled on the cars and Ronson made an extraordinary noise with two record decks, we were reminded of glories past. Biasion looked lovingly at the Integrale, recalling the height of his career.

“It’s a beautiful car, no?” he said. “For me, to drive with Martini was an honour. It made me realise I had finally made it to the pinnacle of my sport. Nowadays they are not involved in the top categories, but back then Martini supported the leading teams in rallying and F1, so we all wanted to race with those colours. The Integrale was a stunning car. I was involved in its development, and of course it was so much faster and more spectacular than the cars we see now. They were great days and seeing the car tonight I feel a little bump in my heart.”

Many male guests at Villa Erba were keen to get a close look at another model clothed in red, one by the name of Rosie Huntington-Whiteley – the former consort of actor Jason Statham. For race fans, however, it was cars rather than stars that stole the show.

Grazie, Martini.

Rob Widdows

Related articles

Related products