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Targa Florio 2024: The Legend Lives On

Isolated mountain roads in the national park of the Madonie mountains in Sicily formed the backdrop for hot duels of great racing drivers and became a splendid stage for the legendary racing successes at the "Targa Florio" up to the 1970s. The new edition of the Targa Florio Classica is quieter, but no less impressive and full of emotions.

Haarnadelkurven auf dem Circuito delle Madonie
Ferrari Tribute to Targa Florio
The Targa Florio wows people with gripping racing duels and captivating tales that every classic car fan should know. We tell two of these stories below. Did you know that the drivers have tailor-made racing shoes made of particularly soft leather all due to their participation in the Targa Florio? How about the fact that Helmut Marko only took part in the Targa Florio once, but despite all the adversities, he felt that it was a fabulous racing time that burned into the hairpin bends of the "Madonie" mountains.


Targa Florio the race 2024

Prepare for an adrenaline-fueled adventure as the legendary Targa Florio roars back to life from October 11th to 13th, 2024. Set against the stunning backdrop of Sicily's picturesque landscapes, this historic event promises thrills, excitement, and a celebration of motorsport heritage like no other.

It is well known among the Italians of the peninsula, and with the greatest confidence, the beauty of - Sicily. The proud Sicilians loved the revival of the "Targa Florio"; one of the oldest car races in the world. The field of participants, with almost four dozen classics, were less than in previous years, but it didn’t hurt the enthusiasm of the spectators!

Lancia Appia Sport Zagato

Lancia Appia Sport Zagato

From the bustling streets of Palermo to the rugged terrain of the Madonie Mountains, the Targa Florio's storied route is a testament to the enduring legacy of one of the world's oldest car races. As participants navigate the challenging course, they'll be following in the tire tracks of racing legends, tracing the footsteps of a tradition that spans over a century. But the Targa Florio isn't just a race; it's a celebration of Sicily's rich culture and heritage. From the historic legacy of the Florio family to the breathtaking beauty of the island's landscapes, every twist and turn of the course tells a story steeped in tradition and passion.

Bugatti in the old pit lane near Cerda

In 2023, amidst a field of competitors primarily composed of fellow countrymen, the team of Enzo Ciravolo and Francesco Messina claimed victory at the Targa Florio, piloting a 1938 Fiat 508C. This triumph marked the first win for Team Ciravolo at the Targa Florio, etching their names into the history of this storied event. Meanwhile, the duo of Mario Passanante and Alessandro Molgora, driving a 1937 Fiat 508C, secured the overall victory in the prestigious Italian racing series "Grandi Eventi." Their skill and determination highlighted an exciting season, showcasing the enduring spirit and challenge of Italian motorsport.

Alfa Romeo Sprint at the Start in Palermo

Alfa Romeo Sprint at the Start in Palermo

As anticipation builds for the 2024 edition, enthusiasts from around the world eagerly await news of the planned route. With each announcement, excitement mounts, promising an unforgettable experience for participants and spectators alike. So mark your calendars, rev your engines, and get ready to witness history in the making as the Targa Florio 2024 takes to the streets of Sicily. It's a journey like no other, where every corner holds the promise of adventure and the spirit of competition burns brighter than ever before.

Go to: PART I Facts and Numbers // The Targa Florio Classica Today // Targa Florio Participants  //  Application Process  // Routes for the Race // The Targa Florio with Nostalgic

PART 1 Facts and Numbers

The Targa Florio Classica Today

The new edition of the Targa Florio is called the "Targa Florio Classica" and thus differs from the Targa Florio Rally for modern rally vehicles. Driving victory will be fought in three vehicle categories in October: vintage cars built between 1900 and 1977 compete for the "Targa Florio Classica", those built between 1978 and 1990 for the "Targa Florio Legend" and Ferrari GTs of all years compete for the "Tribute to Targa Florio."

The spectacular opening ceremony of the Targa Florio takes place in the evening in the old town of Palermo around the venerable Teatro Massimo. The races start every morning in Palermo and end again in Palermo in the evening. The routes change each year, but the mountain routes of the Madonie are still a must today. At Cerda, the route leads past the grandstands and pit lane of the former starting area of ​​the Targa Florio

With Nostalgic you will experience an exciting journey in the north-west of Sicily on the trail of the myth of Targa Florio. At the wheel of a Nostalgic Alfa Romeo Classic The road book takes you along beautiful coastal roads and into small Sicilian towns where time seems to have stop, but the culture can be experienced with every breath. On the third day we leave Palermo and go through blooming lemon groves to where the Targa Florio began in 1906, on the "Gran Circuito delle Madonie", then we reach the glamorous seaside resort of Cefalú where the journey ends.

Prepare yourself for an extraordinary journey in one of the most exciting corners of Italy, which you can experience from one of the most unusual perspectives: at the wheel of an Alfa Romeo Giulia Spider. The Targa Florio routes are made for the sporty, agile Alfa Spider and are even more fun if you can share them with the participants of the Targa Florio and the Ferrari Challenge participants.

Mercedes-Benz SL 300 in der alten Boxengasse bei Cerda
See and be seen - gullwing at the Targa Florio followed by an Alfa Romeo Giulietta

The Targa Florio in Sicily is a must-see at least once in a lifetime. But how can you participate in the Targa Florio?

Targa Florio Classica Participants

The Application Process

To be straight: It is much easier to take part in the Targa Florio as a racing team than in the Mille Miglia, which takes months-upon-months of application. In principle, anyone who owns a registered car that meets the tender criteria can apply.  

Which classic cars are allowed to race in the Targa Florio Classica?

Only vehicles that have an ACI Sport approval or are registered in the registry of the ACI storico and were built no later than 1978 are allowed to take part in the Targa Florio Classica. If you have a vehicle that meets these requirements, nothing stands in the way of your application. The rush for the Targa Florio cannot be compared to that for the Mille Miglia: Many of the correctly submitted applications are accepted. The participation fee of around 4,000€ per team is also within reach compared to the "Mille Miglia". Without sufficient knowledge of Italian, however, the registration process can become the first unexpected hurdle.

The Route of the Targa Florio

Every year, the Palermo Automobile Club, the patron of the event, changes the route of the Targa Florio, the rally date itself is usually confirmed at the end of January. However, there are some key points surround the race:

Beim Start der Mille Miglia 2017 in Brescia

The opening ceremony in Palermo.

1. The starting gun will be shot in Palermo. The technical vehicle inspection in downtown Palermo at the "Museo Storico dei Motori e dei Meccanismi" is the first highlight of the event and a great opportunity to see the racing cars up close.

2. The opening ceremony in front of the Teatro Massimo in Palermo in the evening is pure Mediterranean-chaos; loud, crowded, and full of gusto - all-in-all very impressive, another "must see".

3. The heart of the Targa Florio is the Circuito delle Madonie with its 900 bends.

Arrival of the teams in the evening in Palermo

4. The Targa Florio is not a circuit like in the Mille Miglia but a rally. You come back to Palermo every day and start again from there the next morning. South-eastern Sicily with Taormina and Catania is too far away from Palermo, but the organizers keep coming up with new routes.

A classic route is the trip to the southwest to Trapani, the home of the Florio family with a visit to the Florios salt pans and wineries. This route is not included in the road book every year. Another variant leads across the island, past the notorious residences of Mafia members to the southern coast of Sicily near Noto .

The route to the "Madonie" mountains, which is still an essential part of the Targa Florio Classica, is indispensable in the road book with Nostalgic too. 

The Road Book and the Targa Florio Rule Book

If you have managed to get a place on the Targa Florio, you should familiarize yourself with the rally's rulebook.

You have probably already taken part in a classic car rally. So, the Targa Florio works pretty much along the same principles:

  • Every morning, the teams start according to the year of construction of the vehicle (the oldest vehicles start first ) in predefined vehicle categories at short intervals in Palermo.
  • There is a Roadbook with so-called "Chinese characters" that shows you the way along the routes.
  • There are time controls, transit controls, announcements and secret measuring points for the drives.
  • The team that collects the fewest penalty points wins the race, i.e. masters all the tests with the greatest possible precision. 

Which tests have to be taken by particular racers and where, can be found in the road books that is given to each team.

Maserati bei der Targa Florio

Experience the Targa Florio with Nostalgic

We have been offering this unique travel experience for many years. Every year it is the first trip that is fully booked.

Alfa Romeo Giulia Spider auf Sizilien Nostalgic Team Targa Florio
Luftaufnahme des wunderschönen Castello di Venere bei Erice im Westen Siziliens
Bugatti Team bei Start der Targa Florio in Palermo
Sicily beachfront Alfa Romeo Giulietta & Giulia Spider
Targa Florio Nostalgic Team Oldtimerfahrt in Sizilien
Jaguar E-Type bei der Targa Florio
Haarnadelkurven auf dem Circuito delle Madonie
VW Käfer Team at the Targa Florio

You can experience the Targa Florio with Nostalgic in a more stylish and much more relaxed way.

With Nostalgic you will experience an exciting journey in the northwest of Sicily on the trail of the myth of Targa Florio. Of course, there is still time for petrol talks in Piazza Verdi, where the grand opening ceremony in front of the Teatro Massimo traditionally takes place. At the wheel of a Nostalgic Alfa Romeo classic, the road book takes you along beautiful coastal roads and into small Sicilian towns where time seems to have stood still. On the third day we leave Palermo and go through blooming lemon groves to where the Targa Florio began in 1906, on the "Gran Circuito delle Madonie" , then we reach the glamorous seaside resort of Cefalú where the journey ends.

Prepare yourself for an extraordinary journey in one of the most exciting corners of Italy, which you can experience from one of the most unusual perspectives: at the wheel of an Alfa Romeo Giulia Spider. The Targa Florio routes are made for the sporty, agile Alfa Spider and are even more fun if you can share them with the participants of the Targa Florio and the Ferrari Challenge participants.

Will you be there next year behind the wheel of a Nostalgic Alfa Romeo classic?
Check Availability
Where does the four-leaf clover (Quadrifoglio) on the Alfa Romeos racing car come from and what does it mean?

Starting numbers were raffled in the early days of the car races. According to original tales of the Targa Florio, the Alfa Romeo driver Ugo Sivocci pulled the start number 13 at the 14th edition of the Targa Florio in 1923. Out of superstition, he is said to have had put green shamrocks on the racing cars of all four Alfa Romeo drivers . His teammate Antonio Ascari was on the home stretch in an Alfa Romeo RL when he ran out of fuel. Until the mechanics who were rushing out of the pits had refueled the car, Sivocci sped past the finish line in his more powerful 3.2-liter Alfa Romeo RL. A brilliant double victory for Alfa Romeo, and the green 4-leaf clover(Quadrifoglio Verde), it has been retained as a lucky charm and later used to mark particularly sporty models from the Milanese manufacturer. However, not all victories could be celebrated forever, unfortunately, for Sivocci - in September 1923 he had a fatal accident at the Italian Grand Prix in Monza, without a clover on his Alfa Romeo.

Is there an alternative to the Targa Florio?

Le Mans Classic: the secret alternative

zur Targa Florio

Among the well-known classic car rallies, the Targa Florio ranks more in the "Insider's Tip" category. Sicily is not exactly around the corner for many wanna-be participants, and transporting your own classic car there is quite time-consuming. Foreign automobile manufacturers leave the involvement here to Italian brands such as Ferrari and Fiat predominantly.

The Mille Miglia is clearly the absolute number one among the classic car events when it comes to media hype and highlights. Le Mans Classic and the Gran Prix Historic in Monaco are also several sizes larger than the Targa Florio in terms of media coverage.

But it is precisely the low media coverage that makes the Targa Florio special, here everything is real and authentic: the rugged and exotic landscape of Sicily, the spontaneous enthusiasm of the locals along the way. Nowhere else do you meet people who identify so strongly with racing and are proud of the good old days when a much larger racing circuit hosted a rendezvous in the "Madonie" mountains and the winners of the "Circuito delle Madonie" became heroes.

The 24hour of Le Mans Classic 

Is Le Mans even more exciting than the Targa Florio? We think you have to experience both events and decide for yourself: the sonorous roar of the endurance racing cars on a mild summer night at the Circuit de la Sarthe in Le Mans of northwestern France, as well as the roar of the Pre-war cars under palm trees in Palermo at the Targa Florio.

Do you think we're right? Decide for yourself!

PART II History

Targa Florio Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR mit Hans Herrmann
Alfa Romeo Werksteam bei der Targa Florio 1968
Nino Vaccarella bei der Targa Florio 1967 auf einem Ferrari P4
Helmut Marko zaubert eine Fabelzeit auf den Bergstraßen des Circuito delle Madonie
Targa Florio 1955

The Turbulent History of the Targa Florio

Come with us on a journey through time into the rugged mountains of Sicily: Find out more about the meteoric rise of Porsche and the great moments of motorsport through Nino Vaccarella. Material battles and death-defying warriors who shaped the history of the Targa Florio, which every motorsport fan should know.

In 1906, Vincenzo Florio fulfilled his lifelong dream. The Sicilian patron, scion of what was then probably the richest family in the south, who had become rich with tuna, marsala and real estate, had roads built on his extensive estates in order to be able to organize his own car race. In the mountains east of Palermo, on unpaved gravel roads, the 140 km stretch of the "Grande Circuito delle Madonie" led from sea level to 1200 meter high passes, and this was all at a time when the automobile was just beginning.

The name of the race comes from the plaque (Italian "Targa") which the winner received as a prize, and of course the family name of the financier Vincenzo Florio. Long before the Mille Miglia or the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the "Targa Florio" was one of the most important car races in the world and it wasn't just a rendezvous for the small elite who believed in the automobile and its future, but also a stage for automobile factories that vied for victory. At the beginning of the twenties, the then-racing department of Mercedes-Benz sent dozens of drivers, mechanics and cars to Sicily a month before the start of the race to prepare for the "Targa Florio". Similar to the "Mille Miglia", the "Targa Florio" was also stopped after a serious accident, and years later relaunched as a historic revival.

The race was held 60 times in the Madonia Mountains. One of the great heroes of the "Targa Florio" was Nino Vaccarella, who only recently died in September 2021. The Palermo-born teacher, and later headmaster, won the "Targa Florio" three times in an Alfa Romeo and in 1964 at the Le Mans 24-hour Race, he won in a Ferrari for the Ferrari-works team. In this way he sparked an incredible sense of local patriotism in Sicily, which made the Targa Florio unique.

The Ultimate Challenge for Racing Sports

Imagine the racing cars speeding through the tight hairpin bends of the Madonie Mountains at top speeds of up to 300 km/h. Thanks to the rapid technical development, the vehicles became faster and faster and the danger for racing and spectators increased. The organizers shortened the "Grande Circuito" to "Medio" and finally to "Piccolo Circuito", but this still had 900 corners.

Like other races of its time, the "Targa Florio" was held on open country roads and led through tiny towns, past isolated farmsteads in the Madonie mountains, where the snow only disappears in late spring. Occasional only bales of straw were placed on the track to protect the drivers in the event of an impact. On the eve of the races, so-called "Banditori" were sent out on the track to draw attention to themselves with drums and to ask the rural population to lock up children and pets so that the race could be carried out without disruption.

In the 1970s the safety precautions got a little better, but only for the race itself. Helmut Marko remembered an absolutely crazy race in 1972 in which he set the lap record. Nevertheless, Ferrari had to admit defeat with his Alfa Romeo. He said "during the training runs there was normal everyday traffic on the track, and village policemen were standing in very slow places who issued us parking tickets for" speeding violations ". There were practically no crash barriers along the track and the crowds during the race were unimaginable. You had to brake into them Drive in crowds and trust everyone to jump aside at the last moment. "

Nino Vaccarella bei der Targa Florio 1967 auf einem Ferrari P4

Folk hero Nino Vaccarella in a Ferrari in the Madonia Mountains at the 1967 Targa Florio

Maybe We Should Have Been a bit More Scared

The great Nino Vaccarella, 3-time winner of the Targa Florio, and Sicilian folk hero remembered the glory days with mixed feelings. "We weren't afraid at the time, although we knew that around every bend a domestic pig or chicken on the street could end the race, or in the worst case also your own life. The enthusiasm and fanatic passion of the spectators carried us and made us take ever greater risks during each run."

Vaccarella had the great advantage that he lived in Sicily and knew every single turn by heart. Every weekend and many evenings he drove through the Madonia mountains. He was a perfectionist and was one of the few pilots who could remember the entire street course, making him almost unbeatable in his home mountains. 

Nino Vaccarella, Sicilian folk hero, was very lucky and had no serious accidents, passing away in September 2021 at the age of 88. His son, unfortunately, had a serious accident at the Targa Florio Rally in 1993 and has been confined to a wheelchair ever since.

Experience the Targa Florio Live
If you feel like driving a gleaming chrome Alfa Romeo Giulietta Spider along the Targa Florio's path, you should most certainly take a look at the Nostalgic travel offers for the Targa Florio: a guaranteed unforgettable experience for every classic car fan.
Do you want to experience the Targa Florio spectacle?
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Birth of an Iconic Porsche Targa Sports Car

Races are won with the corners and not on the straights. Word quickly got around in the motorsport scene that there is a circuit in Sicily that actually only consists of curves. Whoever could win in the Madonia Mountains could win all over the world. All the important racing teams wanted to be part of the Targa Florio and take home the victory. Small, agile racing cars had a clear advantage here. Alfa Romeo was able to enter the list of winners 10 times easily.

Only one sports car manufacturer was more successful at the Targa Florio than Alfa Romeo and had a lasting impact on racing: Porsche. Legendary drivers and spectacular sports cars have established the reputation of the sports cars from Zuffenhausen not least through victories at the Targa Florio. Jo Siffert, Vic Elford, Herbert Müller, Hans Herrmann were able to win the Targa Florio for Porsche, motor sport legends such as the Porsche 550 Spyder, Porsche 904 Carrera GTS, the 906 Carrera 6, the 908 or the 911 Carrera RSR triumphed in the Madonia Mountains. In 1956, the young company from Zuffenhausen opened the first big chapter in its own racing history with the surprise success at the Targa Florio by Umberto Maglioli in a Porsche Spyder 550 A. Porsche succeeded in achieving overall victory with a racing car from the flyweight class. Since then, many Porsche series vehicles have had the word "Targa" in their name in reference to the great successes at the Targa Florio.


All Targa Florio Winners from 1907 - 1977

A total of 60 races were held at the Targa Florio during it's first era, many of which were very important because they were part of the World Touring Car Championship. Porsche, Alfa Romeo and Ferrari were the dominant automakers who could claim the most victories at the Targa Florio. Big names like the unforgettable Tazio Nuvolari, Mille Miglia record holder Sir Stirling Moss, Jo Siffert or Wolfgang Graf Berghe von Trips were just a handful of stars that drove the Targa Florio. With the triple winner Nino Vaccarella, the Targa Florio had its own David versus Goliath story: the fearless local hero who put fear into the big names at the Targa Florio.

Year Driver Race Car
1907  Felice Nazzaro Fiat 28/40 HP/7.4
1908  Vincenzo Trucco Isotta Fraschini 50 HP/8.0
1909  Francesco Ciuppa Spa 28/40 HP/7.8
1910  Franco Cariolato Franco 35/50 HP/4.0
1911  Ernesto Ceirano Scat 22/32 HP/4.4
1912  Cyril Snipe Scat 25/35 HP/4.7
1913  Felice Nazzaro Nazzaro Tipo 2/4.4
1914  Ernesto Ceirano Scat 22/32 HP/4.4
1919  André Boillot Peugeot L25/2.5
1920  Guido Meregalli Nazzaro Grand Prix Tipo 5/4.4
1921  Giulio Masetti Fiat S57/14 B/4.5
1922  Giulio Masetti Mercedes Grand Prix 1914/4.5
1923  Ugo Sivocci Alfa Romeo RLS/3.2
1924  Christian Werner Mercedes Tipo Indy 2000 120 PS
1925  Meo Costantini Bugatti T35
1926  Meo Costantini Bugatti T35T
1927  Emilio Materassi Bugatti T35C
1928  Albert Divo Bugatti T35B
1929  Albert Divo Bugatti T35C
1930  Achille Varzi Alfa Romeo P2
1931  Tazio Nuvolari Alfa Romeo 8C 2300
1932  Tazio Nuvolari Alfa Romeo 8C 2300
1933  Antonio Brivio Alfa Romeo 8C 2300
1934  Achille Varzi Alfa Romeo Tipo B/P3
1935  Antonio Brivio Alfa Romeo Tipo B/P3
1936  Constantino Magistri Lancia Augusta
1937  Francesco Severi Maserati 6CM
1938  Giovanni Rocco Maserati 6CM
1939  Luigi Villoresi Maserati 6CM
1940  Luigi Villoresi Maserati 4CL
1948  Clemente Biondetti Ferrari 166 S
1949  Clemente Biondetti & Aldo Benedetti Ferrari 166 SC
1950  Mario & Franco Bornigia Alfa Romeo 6C 2500
1951  Franco Cortese Frazer-Nash Le Mans Replica
1952  Felice Bonetto Lancia Aurelia B20 Competizione
1953  Umberto Maglioli Lancia D20
1954  Piero Taruffi Lancia D24
1955  Stirling Moss & Peter Collins Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR
1956  Umberto Maglioli Porsche 550 RS 1500
1957  Fabio Colonna & Giulia Thellung Fiat 600
1958  Luigi Musso &  Olivier Gendebien Ferrari 250TR/58
1959  Edgar Barth & Wolfgang Seidel Porsche 718 RSK 1500
1960  Joakim Bonnier & Hans Herrmann Porsche 718 RS60
1961  Wolfgang Graf Berghe von Trips & Olivier Gendebien Ferrari Dino 246SP
1962  Willy Mairesse &  Olivier Gendebien Ferrari Dino 246SP
1963  Joakim Bonnier &  Carlo-Maria Abate Porsche 718 GTR Coupé
1964  Antonio Pucci & Colin Davis Porsche 904 GTS
1965  Nino Vaccarella & Lorenzo Bandini Ferrari 275P2
1966  Willy Mairesse & Herbert Müller Porsche 906 Carrera 6
1967  Paul Hawkins & Rolf Stommelen Porsche 910/8
1968  Umberto Maglioli &  Vic Elford Porsche 907
1969  Gerhard Mitter & Udo Schütz Porsche 908/02
1970  Jo Siffert & Brian Redman Porsche 908/03
1971  Nino Vaccarella &  Toine Hezemans Alfa Romeo T33/3
1972  Sandro Munari & Arturo Merzario Ferrari 312PB
1973  Gijs van Lennep & Herbert Müller Porsche Carrera RSR
1974  Gérard Larrousse & Amilcare Ballestrieri Lancia Stratos HF
1975  Nino Vaccarella & Arturo Merzario Alfa Romeo 33TT12
1976  Eugenio Renna & Armando Floridia Osella PA4
1977  Raffaele Restivo &  Alfonso Merendino  
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