In San Marino, I met this English bloke who was traveling through Europe. He didn’t have much time but he had his own car and a plan: the reason why he was in San Marino that day was not the city on the mountain with its three towers, he was there to see the San Marino racetrack. He had meticulously worked out a route on which to see as many legendary racetracks and luxury car makers’ museums/factories as possible.
I couldn’t help but picture myself going down the autostrada A1 from Milano to San Marino, the wind in my hair, the car running as if it were on rails, the engine smoothly purring. Then I’d turn from the coast and loop via the Piazza del Campo in Siena and endless Tuscan vineyards to Florence , where I’d enjoy from the hills in Fiesole the sun setting over the cathedral, the old palace, and the Arno River. I’d stop at the Piazza dei Miracoli in Pisa, try to navigate the narrow alleys within Lucca’s imposing walls, stop for some acciuga in the villages along the slopes of Cinque Terre before turning back onto the A1 to Milano.
I wouldn’t even have to come with my own vehicle. In fact, why not celebrate the occasion by splurging on a luxury rental car for one day or a few? Check here, and find out about the first luxury car rental in Italy; they have 97 different cars available. And, of course, while I’m at it I should steer my ride towards the capital of engines, the home of motor racing:
Modena. About 50 kilometers from Bologna, UNESCO World Heritage, home to one of the oldest universities in the world and some of the world’s most famous balsamic vinegar, birthplace to the unforgettable Luciano Pavarotti.
But for petrol-heads around the globe, it is a place of pilgrimage to get closer to legendary car brands such as Ferrari, Stanguellini a, d Lamborghini, which became immortal here and whose heirs still produce or at least design in the area.
Certainly, the best known among the legendary racing champions and makers of sports cars in Modena is Ferrari. There is the Enzo Ferrari Museum in the city itself and the Ferrari Museum in Modena, where production and the legendary F1 course are located these days. Look out for combi-tickets and organized tours taking you where the ordinary visitor can’t go (e.g. the factory and the racetrack).
→ museomodena.ferrari.com / ferrari.com
Stanguellini might be less known today. However, the father of the company’s founder Vittorio Stanguellini distinguished himself by being the first person to register a car in Modena back in 1910. The – at the time of writing free and open only on appointment – Museo Stanguellini allows an in-depth look at the history of racing and car making in Modena.
Maserati is one of the sports car makers in Modena with the longest history – starting in 1914 as a car repair shop in Bologna. Though there is no entry fee the museum can only be visited as part of an organized tour.
Pagani is one of the less widely known brands, founded by Argentinian and Lamborghini alumni Horacio Pagani in 1992 and producing very exclusive racing/luxury sports cars Zonda and Huayra. The company doesn’t run a museum, however, factory tours can be arranged.
Exhibitions at the Lamborghini Museum in the company’s headquarters in Santa Agata Bolognese just outside Modena are ever so often rotating. On display are cars from different eras in the car maker’s more than 50 years of history. Make sure you call a few days ahead and also organize your factory visit.
Finally, there is legendary motorbike maker Ducati. Their headquarter is located on the outskirts of Bologna, off the autostrada A14. Ducati owners — who become members of the exclusive DOC – have preferential access to factory and museum.