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  1. Luxury
  2. Motoring
February 12, 2024

Super troupe: Ferrari fever takes Tuscany

A luxurious Tuscan ‘Ferrari Tour’ provides an ideal setting for the marque’s devotees to share their Prancing Horse passion

By Nick Hendrix

Ferrari hat. Ferrari jacket. Ferrari shirt. Ferrari trousers. If you thought it was only people who don’t drive Ferraris that wear their branded merchandise, well, you’d be wrong. When this fanatically outfitted owner was asked what ‘Ferrari’ meant to him, he immediately fired back: ‘SPEED!!!’, before laughing emphatically at himself. After a pause another, more thoughtful, answer was given: ‘Achievement.’

[See also: Driving into a good investment: 8 classic cars set to rise in value]

This exchange took place on a sunny autumn weekend in Tuscany, when Spear’s found itself among a fascinating collection of 50 people on a ‘Ferrari Tour’. It was the last of six tours last year, all organised by the brand for some of its most loyal and most well-heeled customers. (Membership of the owners’ club is £1,200 per year and this two- night, members-only trip was around £6,500.)

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Taking the reins the Ferrari tour

The convoy lit up the Tuscan countryside – and won Ferrari some new fans / Image: Michael Shelford
The convoy lit up the Tuscan countryside – and won Ferrari some new fans / Image: Michael Shelford

Anchored at Villa La Massa, a sumptuous villa just outside Florence, our £25 million cavalcade would be wafting to and from the hotel, interrupted only to stop at Michelin-starred restaurants, vineyards and, bizarrely, the house of Luciano Spalletti, head coach of the Italian national football team. (If Rolls-Royce or Bentley do the same sort of trip, do they drop in on Gareth Southgate for tea?) The driving would cover carefully designed routes that incorporated stunning landscapes as well as suitably challenging chicanes and switchbacks.

[See also: Why this petrol-fuelled SUV is a glimpse into Aston Martin’s all-electric future]

The first time all the cars were seen together outside the terracotta mansion, it looked as if Martin Scorsese had taken over the Fast and Furious franchise – row upon row of supercars. Not just in that trademark ‘Rosso Corsa’ hue, but in all colours of the rainbow, with bonnets up, boots open and owners comparing spec and trim.

The aforementioned Ferrari clothes horse was quick to show off his ‘Tailor Made’ 812 Superfast, fully bespoke, with more than £250,000 worth of extras making it near enough a £600,000 car. The gold wheels, gold central stripes and carbon fibre Prancing Horse won’t be for everyone – but isn’t that the point? 

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Ferrari technicians assess the supercars, including a 812 Superfast with £250,000 worth of extras / Image: Michael Shelford
Ferrari technicians assess the supercars, including a 812 Superfast with £250,000 worth of extras / Image: Michael Shelford

Once the proverbial starter’s pistol had been fired, the caravan of supercars set off, 50 divided into groups of around eight, with a test driver or competitive racing driver at the front of each. And they weren’t exactly Driving Miss Daisy. As we swept through each village, gaggles of wide-eyed kids waved and cheered as if the Pope himself were parading through the streets. 

What those wide eyes will have seen went something like this: F8 Spider, 488 Pista, Roma, F12, 599 GTO, 458 Speciale, 296 GTB, 296 GTS, Portofino, F8 Tributo, 812 GTS, GTC4Lusso, to name a few. Anywhere from 600-1,000hp, max speeds averaging 200mph, 0-60 in and around three seconds. Cheapest car? £180,000. Most expensive? Apparently, a Belgian-owned 812 Competizione was worth a cool million. The Tuscan tarmac was truly blessed.

[See also: Classic car collectors still spend on top models despite sluggish market, as ‘most expensive Ferrari’ proves]

The rules as a convoy were relaxed, but ‘no overtaking’ was suggested. However, not everyone wanted to sit back and enjoy the view. Proudly sporting a numberplate belonging to his late grandfather (Bestway pioneer Adalat Chaudhary), London-born (but now UAE-based) lawyer and financier Shuaib Chaudhary (tastefully clad in Louis Vuitton and Richard Mille) preferred to playfully lap the group in his track special 488 Pista Spider, then pull over and let everyone pass so he could do it again. Needless to say, ‘Hey guys, I need fuel’ was heard a few times on the radio.

An unparalleled pit-stop

As we swept through each village, gaggles of wide-eyed kids waved and cheered as if the Pope himself were parading through the streets / Image: Michael Shelford
As we swept through each village, gaggles of wide-eyed kids waved and cheered as if the Pope himself were parading through the streets / Image: Michael Shelford

Lunch was a far cry from service station sandwiches. The vineyard at Castello di Fonterutoli welcomed the snaking trail of supercars, and before long the Ferrari-owning CEOs, fund managers and business owners were supping double espressos and comparing engine notes. Kent-based business owner Gurjeet ‘Jit’ Dhillon and his wife found themselves focused on the boot space of their F8 Spider, which had not been specifically designed with the transportation of Chianti in mind. Dhillon explained that, as a child, he sat at the back of the classroom doodling pictures of red supercars, dreaming that one day he might own one. Today he has five (and had just ordered another).

[See also: Is Formula 1 becoming the hangout of choice for UHNWs?]

Loaded up with red wine (in the car boots, not the drivers’ stomachs), the convoy continued to roar past cypress trees and pastel-painted towns. Although the rumble of V8s and crackles of exhausts has a certain theatre to it, there’s a lot to be said for the subtler elements of Ferrari. This is where the silver Portofino of American-born fintech executive and women-in-business mentor Tiama Hanson-Drury comes in. Like a dolphin among sharks, it glided between the shoutier offerings with class, comfort and capability. The Portofino is still a 600hp twin turbo V8 – so it can hold its own in such company. But there’s something to be said for a slightly more understated style.

Hanson-Drury, now based in leafy Hampstead, was joined by her partner, who was happy to ride shotgun with the wind in his hair. The pair professed their love for the car, but also for the open road. If their destination is within Europe, they always aim to drive: ‘It’s the only way to travel.’

Nick Lim and his wife squeeze their shopping into their 458 Speciale Ferrari / Image: Michael Shelford
Nick Lim and his wife squeeze their shopping into their 458 Speciale / Image: Michael Shelford

At the end of the first day’s drive, Villa La Massa welcomed the group back with open arms for dinner and cocktails, while engines rested and brakes cooled.

Over negronis in the evening and breakfast the following morning, the Ferraristi mingled and chatted in relaxed fashion. No one was there to work, perhaps with the exception of Malaysian Nick Lim, CEO of NVN Motorworks in Dubai. He couldn’t help but make some connections. NVN is a world leader in PPF (paint protection film) car wrapping – if you have a supercar and don’t want it scratched, he’s your guy. He shipped over his yellow 458 Speciale and, with his wife in tow, was aiming for a little time away from the kids – although, judging by how the 458 corners, the weekend wasn’t exactly rest and relaxation.

One more injection of espresso and the group sped off for its final destination: Michelin-starred Laqua Vineyard, where sushi was eaten and wine sampled as the owners watched their cars finally tucked away on trailers, set for the UK, Germany, Croatia, Hungary and beyond. One hopes the crews transporting the cars were careful, as it became clear over the weekend that for their owners these objects aren’t just ‘the cars that they’ve bought’. Their Ferraris are the landmarks they’ve reached along the journey of their lives.

In 2023 the Ferrari Tours took place in Puglia, the Côte d’Azur (women-only tour), Sardinia, the Alps, the Douro Valley and Tuscany. See ferrari.com/en-EN/auto/ferrari-tour for details of 2024’s tour schedule

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