Car on snowy mountain pass during Coppa delle Alpi

The Coppa delle Alpi: A Mini Mille Miglia in March

The Mille Miglia is an Italian icon, extending all the way back to 1927. The Coppa delle Alpi is a relative newcomer (this year was just the second edition), but in a sport hungry for wintertime action, this shorter, snowier version of the Mille Miglia is a perfect appetizer.

Classic car at start of Coppa delle AlpiThe Coppa delle Alpi (“Alpine Cup”) began in Brescia, the home of the Mille Miglia. But this race went north, not south. The four-day event covered 1,000 kilometers, crossed alpine passes and international borders, rolling along Italian, Swiss, and Austrian roads (under mostly blue skies) with a field of 53 classic cars and drivers from 13 countries.

1930 Fiat 514 at start of Coppa delle Alpi

1930 Fiat 514 under arch during start of Coppa delle AlpiNear sundown on the opening day, the cars rolled out of a Piazzale Arnaldo in Brescia. One by one, led by this 1930 Fiat 514 (the oldest auto in the field), they started their competition against the clock.

1954 Austin Healey 100 at start of Coppa delle AlpiIt’s one thing to cruise the course in a coupe. It’s a whole other matter to cover the kilometers in a roadster, like this 1954 Austin Healey 100.

Archway near Swiss border with classic car visibleThe field of cars rolled from Brescia to Bormio, near the border with Switzerland, entering the town on cobbled streets more accustomed to tourists than classics.

1956 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint on cobblestone road during Coppa delle AlpiA 1956 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint approached the day’s final checkpoint in Bormio.

1956 Jaguar XK 140 in mountain town during Coppa delle AlpiThere’s a lot going on in this photo. Ski runs on the mountain in the background, a 1956 Jaguar XK 140 in the foreground, and crowds of local auto enthusiasts gathering at Piazza Cavour in Bormio.

Road to Bernina Pass during Coppa delle AlpiThe biggest challenge of the Coppa delle Alpi was the ascent up the Swiss road to Bernina Pass. At 2,330 meters (7644 feet) above sea level, it was the highest point on the route.

1957 Porsche 356 on mountain pass during Coppa delle AlpiThe morning fog was still beginning to lift as this 1957 Porsche 356 rolled past snow-capped peaks near the summit of Bernina Pass.

1953 Jaguar XK 120With temperatures below freezing, only the bold and brave (and bundled-up) dared to cross the top of the pass in cars like this open-top 1953 Jaguar XK 120.

Front end of Jaguar on snowy road during Coppa delle Alpi

Side view of Jaguar on snowy road during Coppa delle AlpiThere must be something about Jaguars that gives their crews a bit of extra insulation.

Swiss road with cars on it during Coppa delle AlpiThe Swiss roads were incredibly well maintained. The poles mark the side of the pavement and let the snowplow drivers know the limits of the surface.

1962 Saab on Swiss mountain road during Coppa delle AlpiYou could hear this 1962 Saab chugging up from the valley below to the top of the Bernina Pass. Sadly, this car didn’t make it all the way to the end of the 2022 Coppa delle Alpi.

1939 Lancia Aprilia during Coppa delle AlpiAfter 70 time trials, 65 checkpoints, and 14 alpine passes, this 1939 Lancia Aprilia was declared the winner of the Coppa delle Alpi. The win assured the driver entry into the 2023 Coppa delle Alpi for the Italian crew of Gianmario Fontanella and Anna Maria Covelli.

View of snowy Swiss road with buildings on either side during Coppa delle AlpiArrivederci da Italia!

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