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Automotive Traveler Magazine: 2011 04 Abruzzo Italy Undiscovered Page 3

first-name basis. Needless to say, he's a good person to know.

After picking up the car and programming its Microsoft-designed Blue&Me navigation system, we got on the A1 autostrada towards Bologna. For those of you who haven't yet visited Italy, the Autostrada, the equivalent of our Interstate highway system, is a network of multi-lane toll roads that connect Italy. At one time, the autostrada were largely free of speed limits, not surprising given that Italy produces some of the world's fastest road cars. Today, most sections carry a speed limit of 130 k.p.h (about 80 m.p.h.), enforced by speed cameras.

The trip from Milan to Maranello passes through the heart of Italy's agricultural region. I wasn't surprised to see several cooperatives as we headed southeast.

To anyone who knows anything about cars, the name Maranello is synonymous with just one thing, FERRARI. Yet for us, the draw wasn't so much the Ferrari factory (I'd visited it five summers ago, when I drove a Ford GT and a Dodge Viper to Ferrari's front gate). Our objective was lunch at Ristorante Cavallino.

What makes Ristorante Cavallino so special is that it is directly across the street from the main gate of the historic Ferrari factory... and for many years, it was the favorite place for il Commendatore Enzo Ferrari to lunch and entertain visitors to the Ferrari works. The proprietors have left his private room pretty much as it was the day he died in 1988.

As for us, we were blessed with an exceptional server, Daniele (pictured at right), who patiently explained the lunch offerings. Susan, whom I've known since high school, is something of a picky eater and insists on having things just her way (think Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally). She tends to stay away from fish, lamb, and veal, which presents culinary challenges in Italy. On this day, she let Daniele suggest a pear salad on which she liberally applied oil and the restaurant's own balsamic vinegar.

A word about the vinegar. First, it has the consistency of motor oil--and this is not a bad thing. Second, it has a sweetness not tasted in what passes for vinegar back in the United States. Combined with a light olive oil, it was the perfect dressing over fresh greens and Romaine lettuce. As for me, I went with the gnocchi, enticed by the fact that it was served in a bowl made from grilled parmesan cheese. I could almost feel my arteries hardening as I enjoyed my meal. Oh, but it was so good.

We were expected in Pescara at seven, so we ran through the Ferrari store before hitting the road. We'll visit Galleria Ferrari on our return trip to Milan.

The drive to Pescara was wonderful, especially when the