Ferrari tours of Italy sound like a car lover's dream - if you can handle the fasties and the costs. The Greater China representative of Turin-based Red Travel, Leisure Far East (www.leisurefareast.com), offers one- to eight-day Tuscany tours in some of the Italian marque's latest cars, some involving drives of 400km a day.
Trips to other Italian and European cities are in the works, and we like the look of the tours' car fleet: Ferrari F430, F430 Spider, 599 GTB Fiorano, 612 Scaglietti, 360 Modena Spider and 575 Maranello.
'There's no standard cost as the holiday is tailor-made to the requirements of our guests,' says Leisure Far East director William Chan (tel: 3511 9017). 'But one may budget around Euro1,100 to Euro1,200 [$10,689-$11,660] per person per day, inclusive of everything but air fare.'
Such prices are unlikely to scare Hong Kong's rich. But we're concerned about their safety as they rev and videocam their way through Italy's best sights, shops and menus. We know what a supercar can do, and how Hong Kong drivers can run riot in fasties beyond the reach of Asia's Finest.
'Safety and security is our major concern,' says Chan. 'But it's not necessary for customers to have super-sports car experience to join this tour. However, one must be at least 26 years old and have a full driver's licence for three consecutive years. To make it easier, safer and more enjoyable for our guests, all our Ferraris are equipped with F1 semi-automatic gear systems and controls for safety and traction.'
He says the tour promotes 'carefree' driving on pre-selected routes. 'The stretches of roads we have chosen for our guests to drive are scenic, safe, exciting in terms of car manoeuvring and free of traffic,' Chan says. Staff will handle parking, car security, refuelling, maintenance and cleaning, he says. 'Our guests may just leave the Ferraris in front of the hotel and they'll find them ready the next morning.'
Cars drive in convoys (above) of not more than five Ferraris 'led by our experienced tour director, who is a Ferrari expert and an extremely good driver', Chan says. 'He doesn't have a pre-set speed, but he'll lead the tour according to the driving abilities of the guests, with respect to the local traffic regulations.'
Chan says self-drive tourists could have a demanding time with GPS or map-reading and driving a supercar in an alien land. 'But our guests can concentrate on enjoying the Ferraris and sightseeing while our tour director leads the way. Should any of our guests require emergency assistance, he can make use of the onboard [radio] to communicate with either the tour director or our Cantonese and Putonghua-speaking staff sitting next to [him],' he says.
Guests and cars are insured, and we recommend you check your cover before you book your trip. 'There's an excess for the car damage,' Chan says. 'Therefore, we demand a deposit of Euro15,000 per Ferrari from our guests to cover such excess, and to make them aware that they have to drive with due care and respect.'
Chan's comments are reassuring, but Hong Kong's constricted traffic can lull us into thinking we're better drivers than we are. When we test-drive in Europe, we can take a while to get used to driving on the right, the speed and courtesy of the autobahn, and vitally, the location of controls in fast cars.
So, we urge the Transport Department, Hong Kong Automobile Association and the Supercar Club to devise a supercar driving test, ideally on the Zhuhai track, where Porsche and Audi experts have highlighted our potentially lethal fastie flaws. No Hong Kong driver should be allowed into a supercar - anywhere - without formal, professional track training.
We asked the Hong Kong Police Force on behalf of a couple of readers whether it could put, say, a confiscated Ferrari or Lamborghini into public service, as their Italian counterparts have with a V10 Gallardo (below).
'A good question,' says a force spokesman, who doesn't want to be named. 'Unfortunately, the confiscation of Ferraris and Lamborghinis, or any other high-performance cars for that matter, is extremely rare and can't possibly sustain police operations. There is past precedence for the police to use confiscated speedboats but there are all sorts of legal implications, not-to-mention government regulations on disposal of confiscated goods.' Oh, well. So, over to you:
Should our police be allowed to press criminals' cars into public service? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Finally, 20 cars of the Collectors Car Club of Hong Kong will meet at Cotton Path, Causeway Bay, at 8.15am for today's Parade for the Ninth Anniversary Celebration of Reunification, says club spokeswoman Connie Lau. The cavalcade will cruise, at about 30km/h, up Hennessy Road to Supreme Court Road, and then finish in Sugar Street, via Sogo. Inquiries: 2576 3753 or go to www.collectorscarclub.hk.
If you're flying the flag on the road, tie your Bauhinia down. And if you're doing the Anson Chan Fang on-sang walk, don't take your car to town.