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Also: since I'm thinking of taking my new 328i out on some drives around here in Southern CA, where is this road in San Diego County that's good? Heck, what ARE some good drives around here?
Here's the first road that boothguy mentioned. The destination is Mt. Palomar. Coming from I-15 South take the SR76 exist and then go southeast on SR76, from the upper left of the map, then take either the first road (Nate Harrison Road) or the second road (Mt. Palomar Rd/South Grade) off SR 76 to get up to Mt. Palomar. You can then come down either road, or take State Park Road and East Grade Road southeast all the way down to Lake Henshaw, then return west on SR76.

http://goo.gl/maps/OtsW

Here's the second road that I mentioned. From Julian, take it down to Banner and then back up again. This one is short, but intense, and possibly less traffic.

http://goo.gl/maps/JREE

If you've got all day, you can combine them. The roads between Mt. Palomar and Julian are all pretty enjoyable! A good return home would be to take SR79 from south of Lake Henshaw up through Warner springs back to I-15 North back to Orange County.

These are both AWESOME roads and I've done them both many times in my S2000. Mt. Palomar is particularly attractive to motorcyclists and you'll see a lot. Traffic can sometimes be bad and extremely frustrating when you're stuck behind someone out for a Sunday drive and going 30 MPH all the way up without pulling over. I've convinced that some people, possibly local residents, do this on purpose to combat speeders.

I'm looking forward to doing them in the 335is when it arrives home!
 

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Discussion Starter · #22 · (Edited)
Tom nailed the Mt. Palomar drive I was talking about. I did the I-15-to-Julian routing with a group of my Vintage Ferrari buds last August with me in my 335 cabrio since my F-car is still in pieces - come sempre. Chased a 550 Maranello up and led a F430 Scuderia down. Funny thing was that when we started out, they were treating my 335 kinda like it was invisible. But every time we stopped, whomever had been running near me would come over and look at the car like they were seeing it for the first time and say something along the lines of, "#@$% - that thing is quick!".
 

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Discussion Starter · #23 · (Edited)
So after not laying eyes on the M3 for three days, since travel around Lake Como is primarily by passenger ferry, I was happy to see it right where I left it, with no other cars anywhere near ***8211; an unusual circumstance in parking-challenged Italian towns.

A quick trip down the Autostrada gets us to the Langhe part of the Piemonte region ***8211; home of some of Italy's best red wines: Nebbiolo, Barbera, Barbaresco and the king of them all, Barolo.

The hilltop towns that produce these wonderful beverages are largely unchanged by time and really tiny (under a thousand inhabitants), and also not very far apart. Which means not too much time on the narrow, twisty roads between wine tastings ***8211; ordinarily a bad thing. But since pouring this stuff into a dump bucket seems so sacrilegious, it's good that the drives are shorter right now.

It's been raining off and on, which means the Le Mans Blue is showing the dirt. But I'm really liking the current-generation NAV, and the I-Drive is way better than on my '08 335 E93 as well. The non-runflat Michelin Pilot Sports are compliant but plenty grippy and the DCT gearbox is really dual purpose. Let it shift on its own, and it's almost imperceptible in its smoothness. But in spirited driving and using the paddles, it's lightning-quick and extremely direct. Wow.

They're introdcing the 2007 vintage in Barolo tomorrow and all the producers will be there pouring. We'll see if we can elbow our way into the town, which seems to have parking for about 50 cars total.

Key to today's pictures:
Lake Como ferries stop at picturesque towns large and small.

We waved to George Clooney, but he didn't wave back ***8211; the snob. He's OFF the Christmas card list for this.

Less than a week and the M3's already pretty dirty. Energetic lady in the picture restored this villa above Alba and turned it into a seven-room B&B, and it's even nicer than this picture can depict.

View from last night's restaurant toward Barbaresco (with the tower), and all those Nebbiolo grapes in between, just waiting their turn to become wine.

Wine tasting with a view ***8211; Barbaresco.

Wine tasting with producer Giuseppe Grasso in his cellar at Cascina del Monastero. Good Barolo is astronomically expensive in the States, but here, 25Euro gets you a really nice bottle of wine. And this was REALLY nice.

A couple of Swiss families were tasting at Cascina Del Monastero with us, and took home at least six cases of wine, all crammed into the back of his 3er wagon. I asked the driver here in the pic where the luggage was going to fit, and he said, ".. the wine is more important". A man after my own heart.

Giuseppe left us on our own in the cantina with 12 bottles of wine. Luckily, moderation won the day ***8211; otherwise we'd have been sleeping there.
 

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Congratulation on your second ED and upgrade to M3! :thumbup:
Thanks for sharing your stories and photos! :thumbup:
 

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Sorry I got on your report late David. Fabulous, of course.... and yes, I'm very jealous :angel:



Thanks for the memories :bigpimp:
 

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Discussion Starter · #27 · (Edited)
Hey Stuart:

I tried to get you and Beth to overlap with us for at least part of this trip, but you both demurred. So don't come cryin' to me now that you're seeing all the fun stuff.

Driving just one of these passes was a big deal for me; don't I remember you did like four?
 

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Discussion Starter · #28 · (Edited)
Here's a postscript to the Barolo visit. As previously mentioned, they made the official introduction of the 2007 vintage of this renowned wine on Sunday. We made the trek and arrived in light rain to the media-attended announcement, which was held outside under a big canopy. We stood on the fringes like the tourists we were, but still got a glass of wine to sample just like the rest of the folks.

After checking out the Corkscrew Museum (I swear) and getting some lunch which for me was a nice risotto made with Barolo wine, we went back to the regional wine tasting room where every one of the 115 Barolo producers had offered some of their product for tasting (and sale, if you wanted). A 15 Euro fee bought you a glass and an open playing field for the next three hours. Taste all 115 if you could, or just try a couple and call it a day.

But by this time the weather had deteriorated further and our previous plan to drive around to some nice villages in the area went out the window about an hour into the tasting session. The weather was too bad, the tasting room was nice and warm, and the wine was Barolo, after all.

By the end of the allotted three hours, we had actually shared 35 tastes between us, which felt like a pretty valiant effort given the circumstances. I suppose we could have gone for all 115 if we had stood at each of the three tasting tables in succession, each of which carried Barolo from a different part of the production zone, and gone swirl-sniff-sip-spit. But I just can't bring myself to be that disrespectful to the product of so much hard work.

It's said that the professional wine experts taste a hundred wines a day. If true, my hat's off to them. I felt sure that my taste buds were saturated by Hour Two, but surprisingly was still differentiating wines #33, 34 and 35.

Not having dropped breadcrumbs from the parking lot on the way to the big event, we got a little turned around (blame it on the wine) and got pretty wet in the heavy rain on the way back to the car. But it was a really unique, totally worthwhile experience.

We drove the 7½ hours from Alba to the town of Velletri just south of Rome today to visit some friends who have a house here and are staying for a month. The M3's seats are definitely way more comfy than the rest of the 3er line. A drive that long in my '08 E93 would have been tough for me and really uncomfortable for Karen, whose limit in the '08 was about two hours. But there's a big difference in the gas mileage as well; that 90 Euro fillup on the Autostrada was pretty sobering, considering there was still a quarter-tank left.

We had home-made pizza with the family of the folks we're visiting, and with four bottles of wine open, were glad the walk home was only about a hundred feet. I've heard that at an Italian dinner table, everyone talks at once. Seems to be only a slight exaggeration.

Key to today's photos:
A little rain in your Barolo doesn't hurt a thing.

Barolo as far as the eye can see.

One of the 115, served by actual sommeliers.

Homemade pizza with sliced potatoes, rosemary and cheese. Oh, yeah…......
 

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boothguy ,
Thank for great report and photos. After finish reading your post I feel I was there with you. :rolleyes:
 

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But, but, but... I had JUST gotten back from Holland a few weeks before you left... and I'm leaving for Norway in a few weeks from now! I would have loved to join you but my boss would notice my absence. :angel:

Nonetheless I am jealous...
 

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Hey Stuart:

I tried to get you and Beth to overlap with us for at least part of this trip, but you both demurred. So don't come crying' to me now that you're seeing all the fun stuff.

Driving just one of these passes was a big deal. don't I remember you did like four?
Total number was 18... I think :thumbup: By the time we started heading back up to Germany, through the Maritime Alp passes, Mrs. Poc was giving me some pretty dirty looks :rolleyes:

BTW, Mrs. Poc wasn't very happy going up the Stelvio : puke: Say no more :angel:

Your better half certainly made the right decision letting you go up on your own :bigpimp:
 

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Great car and it sounds like a great trip. I'm picking up the same car in a couple of weeks, a LeMans Blue e93 with MDCT and Beige interior.

My wife has seen the Top Gear episode with Stelvio and knows we are going up it. It will be interesting to see how she likes all the hairpin turns. I'm sure I'll be loving it as I'm the one that will be driving. We are going in the opposite direction as the Top Gear guys. We will be starting in Merano that morning and staying that night in Davos. This means we start with Stelvio and end with Fluela. Maybe I'll have to get her a glass of wine or 2 in Bormio to settle her nerves and help her relax for Fluela.

jeeter
 

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Discussion Starter · #33 ·
The two sides of the pass are significantly different. It's possible to carry more speed on the south (Bormio) side of the summit. The hairpins on the north (Stilfs/Gomagoi/Davos) side are so tight and the climb so steep that you'd be going slowly if you were doing it on foot; let alone piloting an M3. If you want to drive it aggressively, do it really early in the morning. I did it before 0800 and had the road almost to myself.

Congratulations on your discerning choice of vehicle, and let us see/hear how it goes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #34 · (Edited)
We’re now happily ensconced in the heart of Tuscany: Chianti Classico country. Specifically, Panzano in Chianti - a little south of Firenze. Drove here today on the first completely sunny, no-windshield-wipers day since probably Munich, 11 days ago. But before I get started on detailing the wretched excess that the next three days is likely to entail, let’s first get caught up on the past three.

The balance of our two days with our California friends currently staying in Velletri just kept getting better and better before we headed out to Castel Gandalfo – the summer residence of the Pope.

Surprisingly, Castel and the surrounding area is dotted with lakes formed in the craters of extinct volcanos. The deep waters provide a cooling breeze that people sweltering in Rome’s summer heat and humidity have been drawn to for centuries. Pope Benedict apparently wasn’t at home, since no one answered when we rattled the gates. But a nice lunch of Porchetta in nearby Ariccia was a carnivore’s dream. To make it, a whole pig is stuffed with rosemary, salt and other seasonings and then consigned to an oven for hours. Our Porchetta lunch consisted of a pile of pork served on a double sheet of paper, with some bread and fresh Mozzarella on the side. The crackling skin on the outside and the rosemary, salt and other spices on the inside of virtually each slice were delicious.

Next day, our friends Angela and Romolo took us to Artena – the steepest hilltown I’ve ever seen, for a nice lunch. The hill that the town is built upon is so steep, that the house behind is almost completely visible above the house in front; at your front door, you’d be literally looking out well above your neighbor’s chimney. The place is so steep that they employ a squad of mules to pack out the day’s trash.

Lunch was in a little osteria that had been hacked out of the rock of the hill. Like us, the diggers had run out of energy as they went further into the rock, because where we sat in the grotto, maybe 25 feet from the door, we had to bend over to get to our seats against the rock wall.

Here's the key to today’s pictures:

Nobody home at the Pope’s summer cottage.

Pile of Porchetta with Mozzarella and bread.

Mules still have jobs in the steep streets of Artena.

Restaurant dining area was chiseled out of the rock.
 

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Awesome! Keep those reports coming!
 

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Discussion Starter · #36 · (Edited)
So, while visiting our new/old friends in their home-for-a-year in Spoleto, I realized that while it's nice to have surprise, unplanned experiences while visiting a new place, it's REALLY good to experience it with someone who knows it well. And thus it was with Spoleto. Let me explain.

We had been trying to meet with fellow Italian students and wine-lovers Steve and Denise face-to-face in SoCal for nearly three years (they lived in nearby Temecula) and had failed every time. But it took us traveling halfway around the world to where they are now staying in Spoleto, Umbria, Italy for a year, to finally look them in the eye for the first time. And it turned out really well.

They're empty-nesters and Steve's work allows him to do it from wherever there's an Internet connection. So being the adventuresome type(s), they decided to live in Italy (specifically Spoleto) for a year ***8211; just for the experience. Points to them already, just for this.

They invited all sorts of folks who might be traveling their direction to visit, and we actually took them up on it. They welcomed us into their comfy apartment inside the old walled city and we proceeded to enjoy some wine we brought, plus some they offered, over a nice lasagna they made just because we were coming. Then, we took the first of a series of walks with them around Spoleto, with them pointing out some of their favorite spots and generally giving us the insider's view of their adopted town.

Next day, they also took us to a real Italian pranzo: a three-hour lunch that was technically four courses but in actuality offered something like eleven or twelve different dishes (if you count the five different pizzas on their own). Not being satisfied to sit inside on a beautiful sunny day, we hauled a table outdoors and were having a great time until the first fat drops of an eventual torrential downpour chased us indoors for dessert.

Next morning, I discovered that a local cat had used the BMW's hood as a bridge the previous day. A nice set of muddy, meandering paw prints made for a nice contrast on the hood, all dried to a crusty finish.

Key to today's pictures:
Lasagna and wine with Steve and Denise on their Spoleto terrace.

Halfway up to the top of Spoleto's walled town, with some sunshine between the rain clouds.

Local shoe repair man is always ready for a short break for a chat.

Excavated Roman amphitheater is still used for performances.

Oldest church I've ever seen at just about 1,500 years.

Muddy cat took a shortcut over the hoof of the car. That's okay, it's already really dirty.
 

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Discussion Starter · #37 · (Edited)
After the sensory and gustatory overload of Piemonte ***8211; Barolo in particular - Chianti Classico country in the heart of Tuscany actually turned out to be a nice, relaxing three days.

On our way from Spoleto, we took Steve and Denise's advice and stopped for a while in Assisi. We walked around the fringes of a First Communion ceremony where proud parents were snapping pictures and exchanging the latest news ***8211; a nice slice of small-town life.

Once in green, hilly Chianti country, we stayed in a wonderful converted villa called Relais Fattoria Valle outside of Panzano in Chianti, where I had the best two dinners of the trip thus far. We also managed to destroy an artfully prepared dessert in less time than it takes you to read this passage.

Panzano is also where Dario Cecchini, the world's most famous butcher, has his shop ***8211; just a stone's throw from where we were staying. We walked over Sunday morning and the shop's renowned hospitality was flowing freely ***8211; I had barely stepped inside the shop when a nice girl offered us a couple of glasses of wine, and there was a table overflowing with bread and oil, salumi, cheese and other good stuff, while a guitarist played in the background. All this in a space that barely accommodates six people and to accompany the slicing of some of the world's finest beef ***8211; the local Chianina.

Sampling the local wines was simplified in nearby Greve in Chianti, where the regional wine cellar has 150 wines available on a pay-as-you-go system. Everything from a .60 Euro taste of a D.O.C. Chianti, up to an 8.40 Euro taste of a bottle of Marchesi Antinori Solaia that sells for 190 Euro or $265. First reaction was that the Solaia was pretty good, but not something we'd pay that much for. But with the really fine wines, we're finding that the finish is what makes the difference. So on the subsequent tastes, we started to re-think our decision. We finally left with a really nice bottle of Chianti Classico Riserva, for considerably less than $265.

The Saturday market was in full swing in Greve as well. Each of the specialty merchants has all their wares packed inside trucks and go from town-to-town on their individual market days. They all specialize, so while one may have salumi and cheeses, another might have shoes, purses or textiles and sewing needs.

We were also able to visit and taste at Castello Brolio, which has been in the same family for 32 generations. Our Wines of the World Professor, Dick Colangelo, knew Baron Ricasoli (whose family owns the castle, the vineyards and winery) quite well, and we tried a little subtle name-dropping, but to no avail. No matter, though ***8211; we really enjoyed the wines and walked out with a couple more purchases.

Not far away, the BMW got its picture taken in front of the modern portion of Villa Vignamaggio, where the Gherardini's family's daughter, Lisa was born in 1479, married a local silk merchant named Giacondo, and later posed for the world's most famous portrait. Five points and a really nice glass of wine to the first person who can name the portrait.

We also relaxed our no-big-cities rule to visit Siena ***8211; which really isn't a big city ***8211; but it's still packed with way more tourists than we want to be around. It was worth it to see the piazza where the famous Palio is run (I'm a Tartuca fan) and to visit the cathedral, which was built primarily to impress outsiders.

Key to today's pictures:
First Communion day in Assisi ***8211; proud papas are the same the world around.

Tuscany's rolling hills in some welcome sunshine.

This terrific dessert was gone in the blink of an eye.

World's Most Famous Butcher Dario Cecchini in his element in Panzano.

Self service wine tasting in Greve - when else are we gonna try some $265-a-bottle wine?

Market day in Greve ***8211; all this sewing stuff goes back in the merchant's truck at the end of the day.

The BMW gets its picture taken in front of a famous lady's house.

Siena's famous Campo in a panoramic shot.

Siena's duomo was built to impress visitors ***8211; us included.
 

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Wow! What a trip. Congratulations! Superb write-up as well. We are starting to plan our next ED for June of 2012 and Tuscany is the destination. Thanks for pointing out some great things to do. I hope your trip back is safe and re-delivery is quick.

PS. I, too, can appreciate the 1000th post as this is mine.
 
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