Driving Passion

Mon, 05/23/2011 - 09:16

The triangle that is Emilia Romagna is marked out by the River Po in the north and the Appenines in the south, its eastern coast stretching down the Adriatic. Almost slap bang in the middle lies Modena, a thriving, bustling city with deep historical roots. But apart from the obvious cultural attractions and those offered by the famous gastronomy of the area – among them Parmesan cheese, Prosciutto di Modena hams, Lambrusco wine and balsamic vinegar, the area has another pull for tourists. It is the home of Maserati and Pagani and just a short drive from Ferrari. Other marques such as Bugatti, De Tomaso and Stanguellini are local and Lamborghini is at Sant’Agata, just north of Bologna. The Imola F1 circuit is close at hand and the entire region is soaked in motorsport heritage. It is, in short, an Italian car devotee’s paradise.

If you intend to make a pilgrimage to this shrine of Italian supercars then be warned that many of the choicest venues are ‘by arrangement’ only and thus careful planning is recommended. This restriction applies to most events hosted by the circuit at Imola, the Maserati factory in Modena, the extraordinary Umberto Panini and Righini car collections, the Pagani factory, the De Tomaso Museum, the Ducati Museum and the Ferruccio Lamborghini Museum. In fact a dedicated group tour might well be a sensible option.

Worth Making Time For

The Righini car collection, which is housed in a large fortified house at Panzano-Castelfranco, is a sparkling highlight. It features the famous Auto Avio Costruzioni 815 made in 1940, the first car built by Ferrari, Ettore Bugatti’s 1899 prototype for a racing motorbike and a monster Alfa 6C GT Compressore carrozzeria speciale that once belonged to Mussolini.

The other collection to consider visiting, apart from the easily accessible Stanguellini Museum in Modena, is the Umberto Panini museum. As well as more than 40 cars and 30 motorbikes there’s an adjacent farm, where the Pope’s own supply of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese originates.

Not to miss in Modena, Enzo Ferrari’s birthplace, the museum in the Via Paolo Ferrari.

May is the finest month to visit, since it includes the Mille Miglia followed by a two week long festival called La Terra dei Motori (Land of Motors). This consists of special events ranging from a concours d’élégance to specially themed exhibitions.

Apart from May, obvious calendar highlights include the San Marino F1 GP, traditionally held in April; the Modena Cento Ore Classic held in June and the Mostra Scambio in Imola in September, Italy’s answer to the Beaulieu Autojumble.

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