Maranello is a small town located 18km near Modena in northern Italy. Going there from Bologna, there is no need to drive through the “autostrada” (highway). Chose a normal road and enjoy the trip through picturesque villages and small beautiful towns such as Viniola the city of the cherries. We drove to Maranello one evening and as we were entering the town we heard familiar engine noises. On the right -the direction of the noise- I realized some people trying to to give an eye behind a fence by the road.
Behind that fence it was Fiorano’s test track and some circuits were taking place there. This is not something unusual in Maranello as this is the hometown of the legendary Italian motor company of Ferrari. Just opposite this private track owned by Ferrari for its car testing, Ferrari’s factory is located since the early 1940s. The bombed Scuderia Ferrari garage in Modena had been Enzo’s base before Ferrari’s departure from Alfa Romeo. Initially the factory in Maranello was also the base of Auto Avio Construzioni, a machine tool manufacturing company started by Enzo.
Across the street are the Ferrari restaurant and the official Formula One shop. Though is almost impossible for a single traveler to visit the factory don’t be disappointed, just follow the signs and easily your feet will lead you to “Galleria Ferrari”, a museum of the company which attracts about 200.000 visitors each year.
It was late in the evening and the doors of the museum were about to close, so we checked into a hotel and later we had a walk along the streets of the small town. The walk ended -what a surprise- in a pizzeria. A crowded enough place I have to confess. All around the tables, members of the motor company were enjoining their meal still wearing their colorful suits. To be honest I found it a little “kitsch” but probably this must be a common scene there as the presence of Ferrari is everywhere.
Earlier, in the morning of that day, proudly (!) I “earned” a ticket for over parking in Bologna (don’t worry this is Italy). On that annoying piece of paper directions were written only in Italian. Scratching my head I figured out that it was possible such tickets to be paid among other places at any Italian post office. So back in Maranello, after paying the bill at the pizzeria I asked the busy waiter where I could find the post office the next morning. It is not a problem for the visitor that most people in Italy do not speak English; they are always more than happy to give you directions with hand movements and all that body language.
About my case, I was lucky enough because this guy was speaking English well, even if he kindly told me “yes, a little”. The moment he took a look at the corner of that bloody ticket that was out of my pocket he instantly understood what all was about. A smile appeared on his face. Despite the great amount of work he had to accomplish the waiter took a piece of paper and made me a drawing. I could easily recognize the pizzeria, a number of roads I had to follow, the church, and finally the post office. “Mille grazie, buonanotte” I said -Goodnight- he responded.
Next morning we had our “colazione” (breakfast) and of course the program was clear: Post office (bloody ticket) and then straight to the museum. At the entrance you can find the gift shop but i think is a better idea to check it out later as you leave.
Galleria Ferrari is not a museum only for fanatics and worth the visit even it is not one of the classic touristic destinations. The museum was built in 1988 by the local government in collaboration with Ferrari S.P.A. and officially opened its gates to the public the 18th February of 1990. Since 1995 Ferrari runs the museum and after the expansion that took place in 2004, the total surface area now covers 2500m2.
Mainly this two story building houses a number of racing and sports cars from the early company’s years since the present days but the journey does not end there. A part of the tour is devoted to Ferrari, the man behind the legend. Pictures and original memorabilia illustrate Enzo Ferrari’s life, from Alfa Romeo Sporting Director to car constructor. There is even the complete furniture of Enzo’s office in Via Trento Trieste- Modena.
Many walls are covered with historical information. Displays of wind tunnels and trophies -including some won by Enzo himself- and amongst the cars scattered other bits and pieces related to the company can be found. An entire wall of Formula One engines tracing their development from 1950s to the present day, development models and tools used by Ferrari’s engineers and designers are only few of the exhibits in that unique museum. In a projection room the whole history of the company through films and videos is presented. Another department is dedicated to famous people who have owned Ferraris and visited the factory.
Finaly what i ought to mention about this place is the absence of any kind of ropes and barriers around the exhibits. Feel free to take as many pictures as you like and step as close as you wish. You can even touch the most of the exhibits. This for sure is a great plus and offers a nice cool feeling to the visitor. Enjoy!
(All images by the author)