How about this for a holiday? Travelling between Modena and Bologna, taking in the delights of Ferrari, Maserati, Lamborghini and Pagani. The Australian has the story:
Go to Italy for the culture, cuisine and cathedrals, but stay for the cars. And specifically, the motoring museums found in the Emilia-Romagna region that runs from Modena to Bologna. This is Italy’s so-called Motor Valley, home to museums that celebrate Maserati, Pagani, Ferrari and Lamborghini.
Nobody likes to lose a national treasure, particularly something as important to the Italian motoring cognoscenti as the Maserati factory collection. But back in late 1996, the chance that those fabulous red racing machines and stylish coupes might disappear from Italian soil was within days of becoming an unhappy reality. Amid a time of financial turmoil for Maserati, the 19 cars in the collection were being sent to auction in London. It was a prospect that caused consternation in Modena. But the day before the auction, a saviour was found.
Umberto Panini, a member of one of the city’s most prominent business families, stepped forward with the money to bring the collection back home. Panini died in 2013 but his legacy remains intact at the family’s organic dairy farm, Hombre, on the rural outskirts of Modena. Here, in a two-storey building that evokes the style of a 1930s Italian railway station, the Umberto Panini Collection is open free to the public and has grown to 40 cars and about 60 motorcycles. Highlights include what is considered one of the most beautiful cars ever built, the 1953 Maserati A6 GCS Pininfarina coupe. Of course, it’s not all about the cars; the farm is known equally for its Parmigiano Reggiano, considered the king of Italian cheese.
A 20-minute drive from the Panini family farm is the Pagani museum and factory in San Cesario Sul Panaro, where ex-Lamborghini designer Horacio Pagani creates his ultra-exclusive Zonda and Huayra supercars that have a starting price of $3.5 million and a two-year waiting list. Pagani’s pristine factory is designed as a typical Italian town square, complete with clock tower, street lamps, climbing greenery and a tiled floor. It’s all part of the ambience that clients expect when paying top dollar for a car. The sign on the wall sums it up for Pagani: “The customer is our boss”.
Fortunately, non-customers can share in the love; It costs €50 ($80) for a factory tour and entry to the sublime Pagani museum. It is small but perfectly formed, with the very best examples of the Pagani brand since the first car appeared in the late 1990s. The display includes La Nonna (grandmother), car No. 2, a mobile test bed that has clocked up more than 550,000km. After almost 17 years on the road, in 2015 La Nonna was given a unique new body that’s a composite of Zonda and Huayra styles. Fewer than 200 Paganis have been built so far, but the company aims to lift annual output from about 20 units to 50 units in 2018.
Back in Modena on via Paolo Ferrari, the spacious, swooping yellow-roofed Museo Enzo Ferrari offers a revolving array of Ferraris from the past 70 years, complete with a sound-and-fury video history of founder Enzo Ferrari and the magnificent cars he created.
If you want to see what a $50 million car looks like, in the shape of a 250 GTO, this is where to come. The museum changes cars and themes every few months, so a second or third visit is just as rewarding. Next door, in the house where Enzo’s father Alfredo had his workshop, stands a line-up of Ferrari’s most significant engines.
A €26 package deal covers entry to both Museo Enzo Ferrari and the original red-on-red Museo Ferrari, 20 minutes by road away in the Ferrari factory town of Maranello, where examples of the marque’s Formula 1 racing cars share space with classic coupes and the latest model LaFerrari roadster. A shuttle bus between the museums makes the Modena-Maranello round trip five times a day. For visitors looking to channel their inner Michael Schumacher, Maranello is home to various driving shops that offer a chance to take a late model Ferrari for a spin along local roads.
Or show your museum entry ticket at Modena’s racing circuit a few kilometres out of town for 15 minutes of track time in your own car for €35. Follow it up with dinner at Trattoria Via Ferrari, a short walk from the Enzo Ferrari Museum, where Emiliana regional cuisine is the specialty and black and white photos on the walls of this modest eatery document the Modena citizenry’s first encounters with horseless carriages.
One of Ferrari’s customers in the 1960s was Ferruccio Lamborghini, who made tractors in his factory at Cento, north of Bologna. Lamborghini liked the style and speed of his Ferrari, but thought the reliability, interior fit-out and general build quality could stand improvement.
With Ferrari’s star riding high in motor sports, Enzo was dismissive of a mere tractor-builder’s assessment of his cars, so Lamborghini decided to build his own. The rest is history — from a factory in Sant’Agata Bolognese, between Modena and Bologna, Ferruccio produced his first 350 GT in 1964, later followed by the two Bertone-styled cars that set millions of hearts racing in the 60s and 70s, the slinky Miura and the wedge-shaped Countach. Sadly, Ferruccio lost control of the carmaker in 1974 and it went through a succession of owners before Volkswagen took over in 1998.
The Lamborghini museum next to the factory is filled with a breathtaking display of cars and concepts from its early models in 1964 right through to the latest Huracan high-performance roadster and the new Urus SUV that the company thinks will account for three-quarters of all sales in years to come. It’s a cascade of vibrant colours: red, yellow, green, orange and blue, with splashes of motoring’s wonder material, carbon fibre. A factory tour is also an option.
The Lamborghini family has its own Museo Ferruccio Lamborghini, about 25km to the east at Funo di Argelato. Set up by Ferruccio’s son Tonino in 2014, the museum showcases Ferruccio’s inventive genius, from his tractors, powerboat engines and prototype helicopter to his superlative red Miura SV. Apart from Lamborghinis, the display includes the Town Life microcars that Tonino started building in 2000.
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