Summer is upon us and what better way there is to enjoy it than with a Jaguar F-Type Roadster and a beautiful destination in Italy!? For this special report we headed out to Lefay Resort at Lake Garda in a Jaguar F-Type V8 S Roadster and while we were there explored the surrounding area!
Our journey started in Munich where we took delivery of the stunning white F-Type. We reviewed the Jaguar F-Type V8 S last year already and ever since driving it we dreamed of getting it back. This sunny day is the day our dream comes true and we find ourselves behind the wheel once again. The V8 S is the top of the range model with a slightly detuned version of the famous 5.0 liter supercharged V8 which produces 495hp on the rear wheels. 0-100 km/h takes only 4.3 seconds but there is much more to the F-Type than sheer straight line performance.
The only issue we had with the F-Type was the limited luggage space so after a small puzzle we managed to fit our two small weekend bags, some shoes and jackets in the bonnet. Ready to go! The first bit of our journey included mostly German autobahn and Austrian highway that was clogged with traffic this Friday in July. Everywhere the Jag was getting plenty of looks, although you see more of them on the road, especially in a city like Munich, for many people it is still a rare exotic sight.
Near Innsbruck at the start of the Brenner pass we were greeted by the first of many tunnels that would make our weekend even more memorable. The sound is what brings the Jaguar F-Type V8 S into a league of its own, shifting down in a tunnel and pressing firmly on the accelerator pedal always resulted in a continued scream from the V8 followed by loud bangs from the exhaust. The engineers at Jaguar really did well and there are very few cars – especially in this segment that offer a better sound.
The Brenner pass is one of the main North-South motorway axis in the entire Alps and connects Austria with Italy. With a highest point of just 1,370 meters it is one of the most boring and least scenic passes in the area – if you have time and find yourself along a similar route consider the Timmelsjoch pass or Grossglockner pass as stunning alternatives.
As we continue down the Brenner and cross the border into Italy the temperatures rise and the mountainous scenery becomes more dramatic with hundreds of meter high rock walls towering out over us on either side of the highway. It is worth to have a stop at the medieval city of Bolzano, the capital of the Italian province of South-Tyrol. South-Tyrol is very different from the rest of Italy, not only does the majority of the people speak German instead of Italian they are an autonomous province with a special statute.
Further South we leave the Italian A27 Motorway at Lago di Garda Nord and drive down to Riva del Garda at the far north side of the lake. In summer time it is a popular holiday destination and don’t be surprised to see many foreign cars from Germany, The Netherlands, Denmark and as far as Sweden and Norway. From the hills above Riva you have a wonderful view of the lake that stretches South more than 50 kilometers.
Film lovers should recognize some of the roads along the lake as scenes from the 2008 James Bond movie Quantum of Solace were filmed here. The road on the Western side of the lake and its many tunnels were used for the opening car chase that saw James Bond run from the police with Mr White in the boot of his Aston Martin. With the top down we enjoy several ‘eargasms’ as we roar down through these famous tunnels.
This side of the lake is also popular among wind- and kite surfers and on most days you can see hundreds of them take advantage of the special wind that blows past the mountain on the side of the lake. We pass through the pretty village of Limone, named after the many lemon farms in the area around the town. At the town of Gargnano we turn right and head up a narrow mountain road towards Lefay Resort. The resort is located half way up the mountain and coming up the drive way the views are nothing short of breathtaking. As we pull up at the hotels entrance we feel this could have easily been a scene of the 007 flick too.
The Lefay Resort was built in 2006 and is the first property of the Italian Leali family. Their aim was to build a sustainable luxury wellness resort with a strong emphasis on the environment. The resort looks like the traditional lemon farms found in the area and the main buildings are surrounded by 27 acres of hills, woodlands and olive trees. At the heart of the resort lies the huge Spa with several pools, saunas, treatment rooms and some very special features. Deep inside the Lefay Spa is a salt water lake dubbed ‘La Luna nel Lago’ which is comparable to the death sea and its great place to go for total relaxation.
The is a large heated indoor and outdoor pool, a whirlpool and a infinity pool with incredible views of Lake Garda. A little walk down the hill from the pool we particularly enjoyed the quieter grass area to relax and take in the view. The resort has two restaurants, Trattoira La Vigna offers a mix of Italian a-la-carte dishes or a well prepared buffet lunch or dinner. La Grande Limonia is the main restaurant on the top floor of the resort and again it is hard not to take in the beautiful views. It offers Mediterranean dishes in a sophisticated ambience. The Lefay being a wellness resort special emphasis is put on a healthy choice of dishes and special dietary requirements like a special low salt menu.
Besides the facilities itself there are a lot of activities and treatments to indulge yourself with. We enjoyed a run on one of several fitness tracks set out in the hotel’s gardens. We also enjoyed the special indoor salt lake and a relaxing massage. Although the hotel was fully booked the resort didn’t feel full and there is plenty of space to retreat and enjoy some privacy and relaxation. But as much as we would have loved to just hang around at the pool there was another part to our journey to the Lefay: explore this part of Italy with the Jaguar F-Type!
We left the hotel early the next day to beat the traffic and see what there is to see behind the mountains. Instead of heading back down to Lake Garda we followed the road (SP9) that lead us to Lefay further up into the mountains. Soon it became very narrow so this might not be the best road for cars but fans of two-wheelers will enjoy it all the more. A huge dam showed up out of nowhere aiding to the James Bond-theme of our trip. The road constantly mixed from narrow corners carved out of the mountains to a wider sections. We cross several bridges over the artificial lake created by the dam. At the far end of the little lake is a small village (more like five houses) with one restaurant.
Continuing on the V8 echoes through the valleys, a constant banging from the exhaust puts a smile on our face without interruption. Countless hairpins later views of another lake open up in front of us: Lago d’Idro! Much smaller as Lake Garda but just as pretty. From here there are two options for us: Continue West on towards Bienno, the old Italian town we visited during the GTspirit Tour recently, or head South and return to Lake Garda. We opt for the latter although we would have loved to visit Bienno again and stop by the famous Riva motoryacht factory at Lago d’Iseo.
The road from Lago d’Idro back to Lake Garda is wider and better suited for our F-Type. Like any James Bond car the F-Type also has a 007 worthy switch – namely the button marked with two exhaust pipes in the center console. Before you press this button the car sounds good but nothing overwhelming. The moment you press this you wake up the beast. It turns an ordinary convertible into a screaming monster that will make even the biggest car hater turn his head to see what is coming up behind him. Even at low speeds the exhaust bangs like a classic 50s race car.
Our next stop is Salo, the city on the shores of Lake Garda was founded by ancient Romans. The lake side boulevard is car free to we park the car and walk down the boulevard to the ‘Duomo’ and enjoy lunch on the water side. Salo is also the place to shop on this side of Lake Garda, the small pedestrian streets behind the boulevard are littered with boutiques of known and unknown Italian designers. It is not as touristy as other towns on the shores of Lake Garda and it feels more authentic than Riva and Sirmione.
As we come back to the car we notice another strong feat of the Jaguar F-Type. Although it is pitched in a segment roughly between the Porsche Boxster and the 911, it has a lot more supercar flair for the money. No matter where we went with the F-Type hordes of people walked over to take a closer look and express their approval over its looks. This approval turned into sheer admiration as soon as we started the engine and opened the exhaust flaps. After three days with the F-Type V8 S it still is one of our favorite convertibles on the market today, its sound can only be matched by very few Italian cars (Maserati GranCabrio MC per example) and the same goes for its looks. It might not be the fastest but whatever it lacks in laptimes it makes up for in the fun department with its tail happy rear.
Via Gardone we return to the Lefay and enjoy a relaxed Saturday afternoon at the pool. Besides general relaxing the Lefay also offers specific health and Spa programs, from a detox program to a program that helps people that struggle to sleep. The Lefay Spa uses a combination of classical chinese medicine and modern western techniques and developed most treatments and massages in house.
We stayed in a deluxe junior suite with a nice balcony overlooking Lake Garda. The rooms are very comfortable and includes pretty much every luxury amenity you might desire for a weekend – or week – getaway. Throughout the hotel and the suites you can find many natural fabrics and materials like red Italian marble, olive tree wood and Italian walnut. It gives the rooms a very warm and comfortable feel. A water based cooling system is used throughout the hotel so you won’t be bothered by the sound of the airconditioning in your room.
The coolest room in the house is without a doubt the ‘Royal Pool & Spa Suite’ that includes a private infinity pool with views of the lake, a private Spa area for dedicated treatments, a jacuzzi, three bedrooms and a total of 600 square meters. Upon arrival a special Spa and massage program is created that the guests of the royal pool and spa suite can enjoy in the privacy of their own suite.
We celebrate the last evening of our stay at Lefay Resort at La Grande Limonia with views of 1,581 meter high Monte Pizzocolo. Besides the food which includes many fresh seasonal and local ingredients, the wine list is noteworthy too. Besides many Italian wines the cellars contain matured reds from France and well-known whites from Austria. We opt for a bottle of Lugana, the local dry white wine made just South of Lake Garda and we are sad there is no more space in the car to take a few bottles home!
The next morning the F-Type is already waiting for us with the top down at the reception for our home journey after breakfast. We thank the staff for their excellent and attentive service and once again play a puzzle to fit the luggage in the car but with the last pair of shoes also finding a space in the boot it is really time to go! We leave the Lefay as relaxed as we could be and ready for the home journey and the weeks ahead. One last time we take the F-Type through the many, many tunnels along the lake with a sound track to die for…
It turns out we were not the only car enthusiasts that found our way to the Lefay; Pagani Automobili stayed at the Lefay a few months ago during the annual Vanishing Point owners rally as well! If you happen to visit Lefay Resort and have a bit longer to spend there than we did, Sirmione, Verona and one of the best pizzerias in Italy: I Tigli, are worth a visit too! For more information about the Lefay Resort at Lake Garda visit Lefayresorts.com!