When our Managing Director, Hector van der Walt, describes an experience as “one of the most incredible of my life” then it pays to sit up and take notice.

Hector’s twenty plus years in the incentive travel industry have taken him across the globe. He’s seen and done so many amazing things that it would take something quite extraordinary to make it to the top of his list.

Then again, a warm summer’s day driving vintage Italian convertibles through the towns and countryside around Lake Como … well, that sounds extraordinary indeed!

Slow drive to Lake Como
The beautiful fleet of Italian classic cars, Fiats and MGs, all convertibles.

Milan and the F1 Grand Prix

The road trip around Lake Como was part of a reward programme that the Giltedge Incentives team designed for one of our regular corporate clients. We built the reward around the Formula 1 Grand Prix in Milan but – like all of our incentive programmes – included a number of ‘wow’ experiences.

Milan is perfect for a short stay of two to three nights. Only a small part of the old city remains, so while it’s not the prettiest of Italy’s cities it still does have some impressive architecture. Milan is also the place to go for anyone interested in fashion and then, of course, there’s the Grand Prix.

Walking tour of Milan
Milan’s cathedral, shopping district and the Basilica di Sant’Ambrogio.
Maio Restaurant
Welcome dinner at a rooftop restaurant in central Milan.

That first afternoon in Italy included a guided walking tour to get a feel for the city with its grand Gothic cathedral, Duomo di Milano, and famous shopping district. Later that evening everyone sat down to a fantastic dinner overlooking the square and marble spires of the cathedral.

The next day saw the group at the Italian Grand Prix. Reserved tables at a hospitality tent ensured plenty of good food, while grandstand tickets just above the starting line gave everyone an impressive view of the main straight. The atmosphere was electric!

F1 Grand Prix in Milan
Looking straight down on the starting line at the F1 Grand Prix.

Slow Drive to Lake Como

After Sunday’s buzz and excitement at the Grand Prix; Monday was a chance to gear down in the Italian Lake District. Lake Como lies in the foothills of the Alps, about a 45-minute drive north of Milan.

The group set off in these amazing vehicles: seated comfortably behind the steering wheel of an Alfa Romeo or MG Roadster; driving gloves on and the top down to let in the Italian sunshine. The scenery was absolutely spectacular with lots of interesting stops along the way.

Lake Como in Italy
Lake Como with its mountainous backdrop and tucked-away towns.
Madonna del Ghisallo
The chapel of Madonna del Ghisallo, the protective Madonna of cycling.

The first such stop was the shrine of Madonna del Ghisallo, the patroness of cyclists. This small chapel and next-door museum are dedicated to cycling, their walls adorned with vintage bicycles and other cycling paraphernalia. From its hilltop setting you look out towards the lake and pretty town of Bellagio.

Italian Countryside and Cuisine

Driving down to Bellagio they passed centuries-old mansions and palaces – many of them now luxury hotels. The best known of Lake Como’s towns, Bellagio has steep cobbled alleyways leading up from the lake, grand terraces and beautiful boutiques. There was time to explore for a bit, before catching the ferry across to Cadenabbia Village.

Bellagio at Lake Como
Exploring the magnificent lakeside towns.
Driving in Lake Como
Could there be a better way to explore the Italian countryside?

From there, an incredibly scenic drive along the lake was rounded off by lunch at a small, family-run restaurant. Of all the meals Hector and his group had in their four days in Italy (and they ate at some amazing places!) this lunch really stood out: wonderful, authentic flavours; warm Italian hospitality – superb!

All in all, the day at Lake Como was inspirational travel at its best: the classic cars, lakeside scenery, enchanting towns and fine cuisine blending together in the most magnificent way.

Classic cars at Lake Como

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