I have to admit… I’m a nitwit when it comes to cars. I’ve never been too interested in them and how they work. They take me comfortably from point A to B and that’s how I’ve always seen them: as a mode of transport. I remember my teenage years in school where part of the curriculum was devoted to the study of the inner workings of a car engine. During these lessons, I was introduced to the concepts of pumping pistons, lubrication and ignition. Combine that with the joys of an adolescent mind and you get a totally different picture. *wink* My teacher expelled me and my friends from the classroom on one occasion because we couldn’t stop laughing. Needless to say, I didn’t learn much about the inner workings of a car engine.
Twenty-odd years later, I found myself in what many would consider automobile heaven: the Motor Valley in the Italian region of Emilia Romagna. Equipped with a slightly more developed, perhaps more sophisticated, mind, I set out to explore the home of Ferrari, Ducati, Maserati and Lamborghini. I wasn’t a lot wiser when it came to cars. I did pick up a little fact along the way that I was rather tickled about: spell ‘racecar’ backwards and you’ll end up with the same word. Cool, eh? Speaking of racecars, I was a teeny bit more knowledgeable about them, having been behind the scenes of a Formula One Grand Prix but my interest in them didn’t quite erm.. flourish afterwards. Anyway, as always, I followed my mantra: “go with an open mind”. It helped that my hosts had arranged a private driver and a lunch at L’Erba del Rei, a Michelin-starred restaurant in Modena, so I had more to look forward to. Haha!
Touring the Motor Valley in style!
Me and my travel mate, Claudia, were picked up at our accommodation in Bologna in a gleaming limousine courtesy of Saca Auto. We felt like rock stars!
The Casa Enzo Ferrari Museum
The museum consists of two distinct buildings: a brick building which was the birthplace of Enzo Ferrari (the founder of Ferrari) and a stunning wave-like building which houses an exhibition documenting Modena’s automobile and racing history, with a special focus on Mr. Ferrari, from his humble beginnings to becoming a household name.
Perhaps it was the brilliant mix of history, the cavernous interior and the incredibly sexy cars, or the artistic splendor of these machines. I’m not sure, but I felt like a kid in a surreal candy store! A single red line guided me past vintage racing cars produced by the likes of Maserati, Mercedes, McLaren Honda, Williams Renault and of course Ferrari.
I was drawn to learn more about the cars and their history through their sleek, curvy lines and smooth, shiny surfaces. I never expected it but I couldn’t take my eyes off of these breathtakingly beautiful automobiles. Each car was an awe-inspiring work of art!
A stroll around Modena
Our next stop was the historic centre of Modena, a town that’s just as famous for its balsamic vinegar as its cars. We strolled around the atmospheric streets, taking in the gorgeous terracotta/yellow buildings, its elegant porticoes, the charming town square and striking Cathedral.
Lunch at L’Erba del Rei was a fabulous treat. Accompanied by a selection of regional wines, we kicked off with a parmesan cheese platter, followed by passatelli with chicken ragout, veal with roasted potatoes and zuppa inglese (a custard-based dessert). Bliss!
The buzzing Ferrari Museum
Feeling rather sleepy after lunch, we stumbled out of the restaurant to find our driver patiently waiting for us. Within a minute, we were off to our next stop: the Ferrari Museum in Maranello. Whereas the Enzo Ferrari Museum was like a tranquil abode, a temple devoted to automotive perfection, the Ferrari Museum was a hive of activity, with men, women and children from all corners of the planet excitedly prancing around the cars in glee. Aside from the impressive collection of Ferrari’s, there’s a range of activities to keep whole families occupied such as guided tours, videos, a F1 Race Simulator and track and factory tours.
It truly was impressive to see this collection of prize-winning Ferrari’s, including ones that have been featured in famous movies. My favourite section was the concept cars where the mind-boggling process of creating an equally mind-boggling automobile was shown; from the drawing board, through the various phases to the finished product.
I left the museum with a chuckle and a thought: I still had no idea how an engine works but I felt inspired by these engineering and design marvels. These cars were true works of art. Even if you’re not interested in cars, the museums make for a more than worthwhile visit. You may, like me, leave with a whole new perspective on automotive design and engineering.
There are many more things to see and do in the Motor Valley such as test-drive a Ferrari on a race-track, tour the Pagani factory, and visit the Feruccio Lamborghini Museum or the Ducati Museum. You can do it in style (like we did) in a private car and throw in a terrific lunch in Modena, or you can take the train to Modena from Bologna (there are frequent connections) and spend a few days exploring Modena and the Motor Valley by public transport. You can buy a combi-ticket for both Ferrari museums and there’s a shuttle bus that connects the two. Whichever option you choose, if you’re visiting Emilia Romagna, a trip to Modena’s Motor Valley shouldn’t be missed.