Me and My Car: From boy racer to cool as gelato
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GIAPO GRAZIOLI, ICECREAM ARTIST EXTRAORDINAIRE, OWNS QUEEN ST’S GIAPO HAUTE DESSERT PARLOUR
You drive a Mercedes ML 320?
Yes, the colour is light blue, a 2007 model. It is larger than our previous car and ideal to drive the kids around. It drives wonderfully well.
Your first car?
Being born in Italy, my first car was a 500 Fiat, of course. My father bought it for me; it was white and it had the most powerful stereo speakers. It could make a whole building tremble. The speakers came as a gift from my now father-in-law to complement the car and they would occupy the whole boot. I was 18 years old. It was fun.
Any 1950 Ferrari will do. But honestly, it is more about who I would enjoy the ride with than the car itself. So give me an old Fiat 500 any time and my wife sitting next to me and I am the happiest man in the world.
Who taught you to drive?
I am a self-taught driver. Before I had a driver’s licence and I was only 15, I used to steal my mum’s car. I regret tremendously doing so. But that was me. I crashed a few cars before I got my driver’s licence. My first mishap was at age 13. The family was ready to go to Sardinia on holiday. I was with my three brothers, sitting in the car. I was the oldest and I started playing with the gear and inadvertently undid the hand brake. The car started moving downhill before stopping against a wall; it could have been worse. Having said that, I passed my driver’s licence test the first time.
How do Kiwi drivers compare to Italians?
Kiwis drive better than Italians; they are more respectful and diligent in my opinion.
Manual or automatic?
Automatic. When I was a kid, I was all for manual, and making the car scream before changing gear. Now I like to cruise around.
Most memorable road trip?
I must have been about 18. Me and my two besties Alfonso and Federico left Italy to discover Europe by car. We did not have a specific route to follow and 14,000km later we ended up in a casino in Monte Carlo with no money in our pockets to go home. It was over. Our parents could not send us any more money as credit cards were not as widespread as today. We bet the last $100 on the roulette and we magically won $3600. To celebrate, we bought a bottle of Champagne and enjoyed the music at Jimmy’z until late. Unforgettable. We left for home the next day.
If you could take a road trip with anyone, anywhere, in any car ... I would like to take four people with me. I would like to drive a very old car, maybe an old Mercedes, with lots of space for everyone. I would like to take Elon Musk (Canadian entrepreneur), Damien Hirst (English artist and entrepreneur), Lorde and Anthony Bourdain (American chef, author and TV personality). We would be going to my mum’s for her super long Sunday lunch, no reservation (pun intended). I could not think of any better place to entertain these fine people.
Do you enjoy driving or would you rather be a passenger?
I am a passenger person. I enjoy being driven. I use Uber most of the time.
What do you listen to when driving?
Anything played by Antonio Onorato, the greatest guitarist alive.
Great day trip out of Auckland?
The west coast Scenic Drive is my go-to place. I like the scenery and I love that I can just park the car and go for a bush walk.
I also love the Tamaki Drive at night, the sea and the moon love affair is priceless.
Would you rather drive in Auckland or take public transport?
Public transport. Public transport. Public transport.
What is your take on Auckland traffic?
The problem is definitely bigger than me; I prefer to focus on my icecream.
If you could change one road rule?
The speed limit. We should have several speed limits, not just one for the city.
For example, I find driving at 50km/h on Tamaki Drive dangerously slow.