The Targa Florio is the oldest endurance race in the world, even older than the Indianapolis 500, the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Mille Miglia. In the 1920s, the Targa Florio was the most prestigious race in the world.
At the turn of the last century, the largest island in the Mediterranean, Sicily, was home to an extremely influential and wealthy family of entrepreneurs who maintained close ties with the royal houses and the moneyed aristocracy of Europe. In their homeland, the Florio family owned extensive estates - and there was one scion who was crazy about automobiles.
Vincenzo Florio had a great passion for car racing and took part in various races in Italy and France. In 1906, he organised a race himself for the first time, the winner of which was awarded a plaque - 'targa' in Italian: the 'Targa Florio' was born, in the Madonia Mountains, some 200 km east of the capital Palermo. The extremely demanding 140 km circuit very soon became a fixed meeting place for the European racing driver elite. While Alfa Romeo, Bugatti and Maserati still dominated in the beginning, Ferrari and Porsche contested the victories in the post-war period. With 11 overall victories, the Stuttgart-based sports car manufacturer remained the most successful overall winner of the Targa Florio. The 911 model with the removable coupé roof was subsequently named after the race.
Palermo, the capital of Sicily, lies in the northwest of the island and is the largest and most important city with more than 600,000 inhabitants. Palermo has a large number of outstanding sights (7 buildings alone belong to the UNESCO World Heritage Site) which were built by the Arabs, the Normans but above all by the Staufers. King Frederick II turned Palermo into a splendid residence; during his reign, the Norman Palace, the Palatine Chapel and the Cathedral, where Frederick II and Henry VI are buried, were built. When sulphur became important as a raw material for the production of firearms, Sicily achieved further economic prosperity, which made neoclassical buildings such as the Teatro Massimo, one of the largest opera houses in Europe, possible.
The Madonie Nature Park is located in the north of Sicily and is the highest mountain massif on the island after Mount Etna, with elevations of up to almost 2,000 metres. The Florio family owned extensive land and forests here, and had their own road built here, which later formed the "Circuito delle Madonie" and was the main part of the Targa Florio. Today, the nature reserve is a hiker's paradise and home to over 60% of all species of flora and fauna native to Sicily.