Sara Nase’s Best Driving Roads in Europe

Mountain specialist Sara Nase picks her ten best driving road in Europe – included are a few big names, but the majority are well off the beaten track.

Also, truck industry beats fundraising target to bring driver back from Italy. And, McLaren’s 12C Spider is ageing very well. Brussels driver to receive emergency messages via radio. German criminals to lose driving licences. 

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SARA NASE’S BEST DRIVING ROADS IN EUROPE

Magical landscapes and flowing roads – but timing is everything says mountain specialist.

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Col de Larrau, Pyrenees. See more at PassFinder

‘Ten best’ lists are always controversial but there can’t be many people with the breadth of experience to challenge Sara Nase’s ‘Best Driving Roads in Europe’.

Formerly of Ultimate Drives, now boss of her own driving tour firm Colcorsa, Nase has driven the length of Europe’s mountain roads from Romania to Spain and the Pyrenees via the Alps, mainly at the wheel of exotic, high powered sports cars.

We don’t think she just pootles along.

Top of the list – which otherwise is in no particular order – is Italy’s Stelvio Pass.

Criticised by many for the traffic, narrow road way, broken surface and annoyingly frequent – and tight – hairpins, Nase nevertheless insists Stelvio is magical as opposed to merely beautiful like the others.

That might have something to do with having driven it during a 04:00 sunrise.

‘Perfect timing is important,’ she says.

There’s no way to avoid the big name roads in a list like this – they are famous for a reason.

Also cited are Grossglockner, Transfagarasan and Col de Vence.

But the rest are interestingly off-beat such as the remote Colle de Nivolet, north west of Turin.

Star of The Italian Job, and the launch of the Alfa Romeo 4C, Nase describes it as ‘dangerous to drive fast’.

Another surprising choice is Austria’s Nockalm Road. Actually more of a family-orientated nature theme park – with twin peaks topping out at a substantial 2012m – the attractions are linked by an undeniably sinuous road in perfect condition which Nase calls ‘a good combination of everything’.

Similarly 2328m Bernina Pass, Switzerland’s open-all-year road to Italy, with its ‘breathtaking’ winter landscape.

And Col du Mont Cenis, the mountain bypass of the Frejus Tunnel between Lyon and Turin.

‘A great driving road is not always about reaching the top of a very high mountain in the middle of nowhere,’ she says. ‘That is a great feeling too, but the roads that stand out are also the ones that offer unforgettable landscapes. Col du Mont Cenis is however a great drive and a great road. You get two in one, really – eye candy and driving pleasure.’

Most obscure and off the beaten track however must be Col de Larrau in the Pyrenees, another cross-border pass, between Spain and France.

It tops out at a modest 1578m and is, she admits, ‘Perhaps not the most picture perfect.

But Larrau is however, ‘extra quiet’.

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It’s fair to say McLaren’s first sports car, the awkwardly named MP4-12C, was not universally praised on its debut in 2011. Its ‘generic’ supercar looks and lack of ‘soul’ saw it placed at least a notch behind the (Italian) competition. But detail updates for the open top Spider version released a year later – including dropping the MP4 part of the name – raised the car in general estimation. It certainly suits Swiss businessman Urs Tschudin. He drives it day in day out around Europe to visit customers of his precision machine tool business. In just over three years he has amassed an amazing 81,000 miles (130,000km) making it the highest mileage McLaren in the world. ‘It’s so comfortable and effortless, and it’s still big fun after three years,’ he says. ‘I usually keep my cars for five years, so I’ll push the mileage towards 250,000km (155,000 miles).’ Time has also been kind to the Spider’s looks too, no? Look no further than its residuals for further evidence of its renaissance. From an original list price of £195,000, the only official used example for sale in the UK today – a black 2013 model – is selling for £149,990. Photo McLaren Cars.

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roundup: outrage across the trucking industry over the weekend after it emerged the body of a driver who died suddenly in Italy would not be brought home by his firm. Paul Stanyard from Horbury near Wakefield was discovered in his cab in Ancona on 31 July. He did not have life insurance. His company – Matthews International Transport – said its insurance did not cover death by natural causes reported ITV News. Subsequently it offered £5000 towards the cost of repatriation, estimated at around £15,000. Happily, a fund set up by the family has raised its £10,000 target in just two days (and now stands at £21,000)… drivers in Brussels will receive emergency messages via their car radios with a new system to be installed by the end of the year. ‘FM break-in’ technology allows authorities to send broadcast messages to car radios in tunnels in the event of a serious incident such as a fire says Deredactie. However it only works if the radio is switched on, and will only broadcast in Dutch and French… criminals in Germany face having their driving licences taken away, even for non-motoring offences. The measure, tabled by the justice minister, will ‘create an alternative penalty to prison sentences in the case of people where a fine does not represent a perceptible setback’ reports DW.de, e.g. for rich offenders. The penalty would be decided on a case-by-case basis.

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