It was simple. Charmaine, Mike and James on a high speed train from Naples to Florence. Jean and I and the dogs in the mighty Peugeot doing the same trip aiming to arrive before the train so we could help them collect a rental car and then follow us to our place south of Siena.
As with all Top Gear challenges there was a twist. We left Positano at 11am and drove hell for leather north to Florence – a five and a half hour trip. They left Naples at 1:50pm and were due to arrive in Florence at 4:50pm.
It was always going to be tight. But I always thought the mighty Peugeot had the edge. And so it proved as we blasted north along Italy’s version of SH1.
We were just south of Rome when the train was due to leave Naples which gave us a lead of 1 hour. An hour that would be quickly eroded as the train hit it’s maximum speed of 300km/h on the straights between Naples and Rome.
So we put the hammer down and and spent considerable time close to the 150km/h mark.
But no challenge is that simple. We got a text from the train travellers that they had run into problems – the train had stopped just 15 minutes out of Naples. We continued on, extending the gap as quickly as possible.
An update from the train said the delay would be lengthy so we revised our plans. Mike and Charmaine were picking up a rental car in Florence and were going to follow us south but the rental depot closed at 7pm and with the train delay we were not sure if they would arrive in Florence in time. We would go to Florence via our cottage in Tuscany, drop off bags and then proceed to Florence with enough room to carry them if required.
Update – the train was moving again and halfway to Rome. We were on our way to the cottage, it was going to be close.
Update – the train had arrived in Rome. We were still on our way to the cottage, it was going to be really close.
Update – the train is halfway to Florence. We had dropped our bags and were on the highway north, we were in trouble.
Update – the train has arrived in Florence. We were still 30kms short of Florence. Game over. I could almost hear Clarkson yelling “loser” with the dreaded right-handed “L” to the forehead.
Moral of the story – never race a high speed train. The trip from Rome to Florence should, according to the train timetable, have taken about 90 minutes. The train did it is less than 60 minutes – clealry they have a “little slack” in the timetable.
Last dinner at Eden Roc Hotel before the challenge
Mike and Charmaine on the last night at Positano