Let me start by saying, if you've never been to Italy – anywhere in Italy – go. Book a flight, pack a bag, and go. It's every bit as stupendously stunning as everyone returning from said European destination annoyingly says it is.
Apart from being a venerable hotbed of topographic and gastronomic delights, Italy is chock-full of some incredible stretches of road. As such, I need to preface this ‘World’s greatest driving roads’ piece, with a disclaimer: The particular stretch of road we were able to experience while on a recent visit to the spiritual home of pizza, pasta, and antipasti, may not be one of the planet’s outright best. But if you find yourself in central Italy’s gorgeous Umbria region, it is a seriously good way to get from Todi to Orvieto.
Located between Rome and Florence, the SP373 links the enchanting Monte Castello di Vibio with the small but beautiful town of Titignano.
Presenting drivers with around 20km of twisting and undulating Italian tarmac, the run just happens to offer picturesque views of both national park and the exquisite Lake Corbara.
Snaking its way through quaint villages, open fields, and denser forest sections, the SP373 varies in surface quality from patches of freshly laid, pristine blacktop, to ageing streets, heavily pockmarked from centuries of rural use and neglect.
Phenomenal on the former and less than ideal on the latter, our weapon of choice for the drive is a car few have ever driven, and even fewer still have ever driven on a public road.
Teaming a naturally-aspirated 1.8-litre four-cylinder engine with a six-speed manual transmission, the stripped-out racer pumps out around 140kW of power (around 185hp), and features an upgraded chassis, heavy-duty clutch, Motec alloy wheels, race-ready brakes, and a mechanical limited-slip rear differential.
It’s also fitted with surprisingly comfortable, and totally drool-worthy, Mazda-branded racing bucket seats, four-point harnesses for both driver and passenger, and a full roll cage that makes ingress and egress a touch tricky depending on one’s core-strength and flexibility. Oh yeah, and there’s no roof.
So what’s the story behind the car? Well, this particular MX-5 belongs to the founder and very proud owner of a spectacular resort located in Collazzone, called ‘Miataland’.
Entirely dedicated to Mazda’s world-famous two-seat convertible sports car – also known as a Miata in North America and a Eunos Roadster in Japan – Miataland is the brainchild of hardcore MX-5 tragic, Andrea Mancini.
And, after spending a few days at Miataland for a feature piece on his impressive property and associated MX-5 collection, the infectiously passionate Andrea was kind enough to throw us the keys to his 2010 Mazda MX-5 Open Race… so we had to oblige.
Part of a current collection of 39 MX-5s, Miatas, and Eunos Roadsters, given the SP373 and Titignano was our target, it actually couldn’t have been a more appropriate choice.
Sure it prefers smoother roads to terrible ones, but regardless of the surface beneath it, an MX-5 race car on public roads is simply beyond cool – particularly when it’s an Italian flag-liveried one being driven in Italy.
Being Italy, food – and I mean good food – is fairly easy to stumble across. And equally, fuel is not that hard to come by. That said, we would still recommend filling up prior to heading off, just to be safe.
It sounds obvious, but really, it’s hard to ignore the fact that one of the best aspects of the SP373 is that it’s in Italy.
What I mean by that is, the entire place is full of breathtaking landscapes and vast history. So while you’re in the area, it’s also totally worth checking out Collevalenza and the post card-like Ponticuti, and spending some time driving up and down the breathtakingly scenic SS448.
If you get the chance to come to Italy, of course you’re going to try some local pizza, pasta, and antipasti. But dig a little deeper and, via roads such as the SP373, you’ll discover the real beauty and depth this historically fascinating and visually intoxicating part of the world has to offer.
Click on the Gallery tab above for more images by Glen Sullivan and David Zalstein.
Videography by Glen Sullivan.
Note: CarAdvice would like to thank Andrea and Claudia Mancini and Stefano Cidda from Miataland, as well as Mazda Australia, for all their help and support in making this story possible. Grazie ragazzi.
SP373 – Monte Castello di Vibio to Titignano: The Skinny
|Length||18km one-way (55km total from Todi to Orvieto)|
|Open||All year round, but signs for the requirement of snow chains are common, so best to take care in the winter months.|
|Durationnnn||30min (1.5hrs from Todi to Orvieto)|
|Food||It’s Italy, there’s ridiculously good food practically everywhere, and even service stations offer high-quality snacks.|
|Fuel||Service stations are easy enough to come by throughout Umbria, but best to fuel up before heading off.|
|Traffic||Light apart from the odd motorbike or until a wedding at Tenuta Di Titignano winds up.|
|Best time||We’d recommend tackling this stretch in the daylight hours and in warmer weather. But with care taken, it’s a great road to experience all year round.|