One of the most legendary motor races of all is the Mille Miglia. This Italian event was first held in 1927 and the final true road race was last held in 1957. In general, the race was held over a route that started in Brescia, went to Rome and returned to Brescia. The actual Mille Miglia route changed many times. Over the life of the Mille Miglia the race was held 24 times, but had 12 different routes over the years. All of the routes were about 1,000 miles long, hence the name, Mille Miglia.
I have a couple of good books about the history of the Mille Miglia that I would recommend. One is “Conte Maggi’s Mille Miglia” which was written by Peter Miller in 1988.
This book provides a lot of overall history of the race and the people who were behind getting this event underway. There are a number of personal stories from the competitors. The appendices are a good source of information on the routes and race results for each year the Mille Miglia was run.
The other good book that I have on the Mille Miglia is “The Mille Miglia”, also written in 1988, by Mike Lawrence. In fact, my copy of this book has been autographed by Mike Lawrence. This book provides a very chronological history of the Mille Miglia with a detailed report on each running of the Mille Miglia.
The stature and glorification of the Mille Miglia seems to have increased over the years. This is probably because of the interest in the annual revival of this rally which attracts some of the finest cars in the world. However interest in the Mille Miglia has always been high. This romanticism is typified by some paintings by Carlo Demand that are included in a 2007 book, “Carlo Demand In Motion and Color” that was put together by Gary Doyle. The Mille Miglia is the topic of several paintings in the book and I have included a copy of two images from that great book below.
Tazio Nuvolari/Decimo Compagnoni During The 1933 Mille Miglia
The above image shows Tazio Nuvolari on his way to winning the 1933 Mille Miglia in a Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Zagato bodied race car. The painting is based on a scene at the Raticosa Pass between Bologna and Florence.
The painting below shows the winningest driver at the Mille Miglia, Clemente Biondetti, who won the Mille Miglia in 1938, 1947, 1948, and 1949.
Clemente Biondetti In An Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B In 1947
Several times I have got requests to provide people with maps of the Mille Miglia route used in the 1950s so that they can follow the Mille Miglia route during a trip to Italy. I have been told that useable route maps of the Mille Miglia are either very difficult to find or are non-existent to the general public. I have some reasonably good route maps that are included in Peter Miller’s book “Conte Maggi’s Mille Miglia” and I have accumulated a colored copy of a contemporaneous detailed road map of Italy. One of my winter projects will be to transfer the 1950s Mille Miglia race route onto the old road map. When that is done I’ll then superimpose this route onto a current road map of Italy. This should be an interesting project. Just what I need – another project!