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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.

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Nope, not my new car.

A tour of the Motor Valley in Italy

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 (a palindrome). 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. 🙂

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! And so we embarked on our tour of the most important Ferrari sites in Italy’s Motor Valley.

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The start of our private tour of the Motor Valley… in style!

It was a short drive to Modena (map), in the heart of the Motor Valley, and our first stop was the Casa Enzo Ferrari Museum. What I saw just blew me away!

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.

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The Casa Enzo Ferrari Museum.

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.

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The first thing you see when you enter the stunning Enzo Ferrari Museum.
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Loved this Mercedes W196 from 1954.
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The Mercedes W196 seen from the front. Love the curvy lines!
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My absolute favourite was this Maserati 250F T2 from 1957.
Maserati 250F T2 photo
Beautiful!
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The stunning GP racecars.
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The F1 car that the legendary Niki Lauda raced in.
The cavernous exhibition hall also showcases Ferrari F1 racecars.

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.

A beautiful street in Modena.
Piazza Grande in Modena.
Modena is a very compact town, making it easy to explore on foot or bicycle.

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!

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L’erba del Rei
Yum!

Search for hotels in Modena (Booking.com).

The Ferrari Museum in Maranello

Entrance to the Ferrari Museum in Maranello.

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.

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SWEET!

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.

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Mock-up of the monitoring panels used during a Formula One Grand Prix
 

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Ferraris used in movies. Left: Al Pacino in ‘Scent of a Woman’. Top right: Steve McQueen in ‘Bullit’. Bottom right: ‘Spirits of the Dead’.
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Project F150 – from concept to an incredible car!
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Stunning Ferrari design!

Read more about things to do in Modena.

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 in a private car and have 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 the Motor Valley shouldn’t be missed.

Book a full-day Modena food and Ferrari tour from Bologna OR skip the food and enjoy all the automotive splendor in this full-day tour of the Motor Valley.

For the ultimate Ferrari experience, book this full-day tour that includes visits to both museums, lunch, a test drive and a F1 simulator session.

Note: my visit to the Motor Valley was part of the Blogville project, a collaboration between the Emilia-Romagna Tourism Board and iambassador.

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