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Magic May

By Simon Kidston

May is here, and this year it really is magic. From tomorrow onwards the pace heats up: the grandstands are being put in place for the Monaco Historic Grand Prix this weekend, a step back in time to another era when Formula 1 drivers partied like rock stars and had the girlfriends to match.

The auction circus descends on town too, with the biggest players going head-to-head just as fiercely as the cars on the track. There's barely time to pack another (smaller) suitcase before an even more chaotic show next week, when much of Italy stops to welcome the Mille Miglia roaring through Renaissance towns, sleepy villages and remote mountain passes at breakneck pace, cheered on by black-clad grannies and schoolchildren waving flags. Your heart beats loudly on the departure ramp as you ask yourself: "How the hell did Stirling Moss drive the whole 1,000 miles in ten hours?"

Rounding off the month, 'ridiculous' gives way to 'sublime' and what could be more elegantly Dolce Vita than a chilled Campari on the terrace of the Grand Hotel Villa d'Este overlooking the shimmering waters of Lake Como? It's the uber-exclusive setting for the world's most glamorous classic car gathering, the Concorso di Eleganza, which has borne the hotel's name since 1929. This year's theme is Hollywood On The Lake, reflecting its long patronage by stars of the silver screen epitomised today by neighbour George Clooney. The entry list is a closely guarded secret, but expect something other-worldly (teaser above) to land from far, far away and make a splash.

To paraphrase society photographer Slim Aarons, it's "beautiful people doing beautiful things in beautiful places." See you along the road.

Photos: top, Evan Klein; above, Hulton Archive