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Livin' La Dolce Vita at Monterey weekend

Sat, 15 Aug 2009 00:00:00 -0700

If you tend to not like crowds, or even very many people at all, but you love Italian cars, then you'd have loved La Dolce Vita.

The Italian car celebration was modeled after the long-running Concorso Italiano. When Concorso Italiano moved last year to a wide, flat, wind-swept airport it was roundly panned by critics and car lovers alike. So a couple of car-loving businessmen inked a deal with the old Black Horse Golf Course in Monterey, site of previous Concorsos, and it seemed salvation was at hand.

Problem was, Concorso itself also came under new management that returned it to a nice golf course location of its own in Monterey. This split both the field and the loyalties of Italian car lovers across the peninnsula. What you got was a choice of what turned out to be two nice Italian car events in one day.

We went to both and liked them both. While Concorso was certainly better attended, there was a charming appeal, and a lot of nice open space, at La Dolce Vita.

"We could have used another 2,000 or 3,000 people, but I think everybody had a good time," co-chairman Jerry Kaye said.

Kaye estimated La Dolce saw about 1,500 attendees and more than 200 cars. We liked the intricately engineered Lancias that took center stage, for instance. Supercar fans had a choice of 40 Lamboghinis. And there was even a strong gathering of Traction Avants, showing La Dolce Vita can include non-Italian marques as well.

If you hated crowds, really hated crowds, La Dolce Vita was the car show for you.

Admission was only $70, one of the best bargains of the Monterey weekend, and any paying adult could bring in one person under 18 for free.

"That, to me, was worth it," said Kaye.

Ideally, the two events will establish strong but separate identities, giving the Monterey weekender a couple different choices for his or her Friday.

What those choices will be we don't know. Maybe La Dolce Vita could become a more international affair, with smaller sports cars and sedans from all over Europe and maybe even Japan, while Concorso sticks more with big Lamborghinis and Ferraris. We're not in charge. But we hope the car enthusiast becomes the beneficiary regardless.

By Mark Vaughn