Emilia Romagna is the birth home of speed. All the top high performance Italian race track cars and legends of speed were born in the Motor Valley region of Emilia-Romagna and touring it is a way for car enthusiasts, collectors, Formula One race fans and curious travelers a peek into one of Italy’s top sports… racing.
Table of Contents: The Birth of Speed | A Guide to Exploring Motor Valley & Driving a Ferrari in Italy
- 1 What is Motor Valley?
- 2 Motor Valley Factory Tours & Museum
- 3 6 Best things to Do in Motor Valley
- 4 Bologna
- 5 Modena
- 6 Do you need to be a car enthusiast to enjoy Motor Valley?
What is a Supercar?
Was that a purr of a Lamborghini that I just heard? How about this red hot Ferrari parked in a parking lot?
According to Wikipedia, a Supercar is a “high-performance street-legal sports car”. It is the best in technology, design and performance in the automotive industry. Such supercar names span Pagani, Lamborghini, McLauren, Mercedes, Bugati, Ferrari, etc…
What is Motor Valley?
Touring Emilia-Romagna’s Motor Valley you’ll find many exotic car families have their home here. Motor Valley is a unique way to travel Emilia Romagna, which is the home of iconic Italian foods and sports racing. On the Motor Valley website the region touts: ” 4 international race tracks, 6 specialized training centers, 6 manufacturers, 11 exciting museums, 19 impressive collections, and 188 sports teams.” All of that revolves around luxury race car driving.
Navigating Motor Valley, there are four main areas housing famous Italian luxury car factories : Parma, Modena, Bologna and Romagna area. As Emilia-Romagna has a proud tradition of slow foods ( namely called Food Valley), you will find several day tours coupling the two experiences together!
But what is a Motor Valley experience?
This post contains some affiliate links to services I use. I was sponsored by the #inEmiliaRomagna and Bologna Tourism Boards in attendance of the #STSRavenna Social Travel Summit conference discussing the travel blogger industry and responsible tourism. As always, all opinions in this article are my own.
Motor Valley Factory Tours & Museum
Aside from the possibility of driving a race car on an international circuit, Motor Valley consists mostly of visiting factory tours and museums of supercar makers. Before you think it might be boring~ let me reassure you, it is not. If you’ve ever watched the film, Ford vs Ferrari and wondered why Enzo Ferrari was so offended by Ford’s offer, take a Ferrari factory tour and you will be enlightened to the Italian way of car making. It is highly impressive.
The factory tours will give you a stronger appreciation of Italian car makers and an understanding of the unique pride amongst collectors, admirers and automotive fans.
6 Best things to Do in Motor Valley
It is likely you will not be able to see it all. Some of these factories will require a bit of a drive, a taxi or a day tour to get to. So I suggest you choose either your favorite car maker or the city you’d like to explore most and plan your trip from there. Here is a list of the top places to visit in Motor Valley based on what I visited in three days.
Where I stayed in Bologna: Porta San Mamolo, Dopa Hostel
1. Ducati Factory Tour & Museum
Before Ducati was known as a motorcycle maker, it was also a maker of electronics such as radios, cameras and razors. Eventually the brand split its electronic and mechanics divisions and today, we have Ducati motorcycles. The Ducati Factory tour and Museum was my first highlight experience of Motor Valley. The Ducati factory tour was my favorite part.
Stepping into the factory, filming is prohibited. The Ducati factory manufacturing team has the production of motorcycles down to a science of how long it would take and how long each person would take to move things around. Everything is assembled in kit parts and strictly by hand. It takes approximately three hours to build one engine .
It is interesting to note that each country has their own requirements and standards, so the motorcycles must be made to fit international regulations for the country it is shipping to. Sometimes, due to import taxes and regulations, the parts must be shipped to be put together in the country (i.e. Brazil and Thailand are those exceptions). Otherwise, every country gets their motorcycle made in the Ducati factory. The museum is small in comparison but it houses the lineage of Ducati motorbikes as well as some examples of the electronics it used to manufacture.
Location: Via Antonio Cavalieri Ducati, 3. Check website for hours and entrance fees.
2. Lamborghini Factory Tour & Museum
Located between Bologna and Modena in Sant’ Agata Bolognese, the Lamborghini Factory Tour & Museum. Before getting competing with Ferrari to design a faster super car, Ferruccio Lamborghini designed tractors. This was my second supercar factory experience and I began to see a growing pattern…
“All parts are made by hand,…“. To put it broadly, the factory is divided by department teams from assembly, prototype, paint, detailing, etc… and you’ll see proud photo mural of their group assembly when you enter their department. The uniform is a sleek “Lamborghini” black shirt with multi-pocketed cargo pants.
It’s sleek factory. Each worker in the line is responsible for parts of the assembly and you’ll see a time clock counting down the minutes. The Lamborghini factory pride is that they only employ one robot arm in the entire factory of super car designs from Huracáns to Aventadors. I was especially impressed by the meticulous detailing down to the interior and car seats– all the knicks and slightest imperfections in the fabric are circled with a white chalk, rendering the fabric unusable for anything other than spare parts.
Anything can be customized to your specific needs from the color of the exterior to the embroidery on the seats. Even more impressive– if you’re willing to pay for it, you can own your own prototype design. Yes, you can have an original – the only kind in the world. The cheapest Lamborghini goes for around $200,000.
After the factory visit, I visited MUDETEC, the Lamborghini Museum of Technologies, where I got to try my hand at a Lamborghini simulated drive experience! You can choose your racetrack which will define the level. I’m absolutely glad my drive was simulated because I spun out of control pretty quickly. Hours 9:30 AM – 6:00 PM, you must make your appointment for the factory and museum in advance. Getting there: Check the website for bus and driving directions.
Note: While you are there, make a lunch pit stop at Da Taiadela La Morena. Da Taiadela La Morena is an exclusive restaurant for Lamborghini employees and their guests. They have two rooms- one for employees and a smaller one for guests. They serve a mean Tagliatelle fungi and Lambrusco. The tagliatelle is fresh made a high-quality ingredients.
3. Explore the Italian countryside driving a Fiat
Mixing gastronomic with off-the-beaten path driving adventure, I spent an afternoon exploring the Italian countryside in an iconic Fiat Abarth 500 sponsored by Canossa Grand Tours ! My super cute and mini Italian Fiat had a sunroof (how Italian getaway is that)! Canossa Grand Tours offers curated drive tours of Italy, where you can explore the freedom of the Italian countryside and its remote villages, paired with curated food stops. I stopped at a vineyard offering balsamic vinegar tastings where I had an elegant dinner of farm-fresh, regional foods.
You can get your drive trip expertly planned as you drive on your own, with a group or alongside a professional driver on a luxury getaway! If you want to do the driving, remember to them them what type of car you can handle- stick shift or automatic. I forgot to mention it spent part of my afternoon learning how to drive stick shift. Luckily, the Canossa representative was with me, so we could get back home!
4. Casa Enzo Ferrari Museo & Ferrari in Maranello
There are two Ferrari Museums– Museo Ferrari in Maranello and the Casa Enzo Ferrari Museo.
The Museo Ferrari in Maranello is the headquarters of Ferrari. It offers a museum, shuttle factory tour, driving simulation and track experience at Autodromo di Modena. If you’re a Ferrari fan, this is the IT spot.
I visited Casa Enzo Ferrari Museo, which is located a bit aways. This museum showcases its most unique, expensive and impressive Ferrari models, engines. The museum plays a recurring film on the life of Ferrari, by dimming the lights in the main museum and projecting it on the wall.
If there is one museum you want a guided tour, the Ferrari museums are it! I cannot stress this more. The information imparted by your Ferrari guide really opens your understanding about the Ferrrari mystique, why Ferraris are supercars and the type of man Ferrari was.
Interesting note: All Ferraris can be used for the race track. There should be two insignia Ferrari logos– one signifying the car is made in the Ferrari factory and the second stating the car is part of the Ferrari driving race team. It is interesting to note that all Ferrari’s are only originals.
Getting there: There is a paid Shuttle bus connecting both locations and Modena Railway Station (gate no. 4). You can pay on the bus.
5. Driving a Ferrari in Italy at Autodromo di Modena
Are you a Formula One fan? How does driving a Ferrari in Italy sound to you? Autodromo di Modena is one of the top four international circuits of Emilia-Romagna and you can drive the race track circuit or be driven by a professional in top race cars. Autodromo di Modena is also a green circuit, working towards reducing greenhouse gases in motorsport.
I put a Ferrari 458 Challenge to the speed test on the curvy racetrack, with my professional driver, Gian Luca. I won’t lie, the cost of this experience is not cheap, but it is a lifetime of memories, a certificate of completion and the opportunity to brag that you zipped through a famous Italian racetrack in under 3 minutes. If you’re a Formula One fan, this is a no-brainer for your Italy trip!
Thanks Motor Valley, Autodromo di Modeno and my driver. No animals were harmed in the video filming of my ferrari drive experience (video at the end of this post).
Getting to Autodromo di Modena: Modena Railway Station or Reggio Emilia AV Mediopadana Station (see their website for more directions)
6. Umberto Panini Motor Museum | The famous home of the Maserati collection
We make one last stop on my tour of motor valley are private car collections and one of the biggest and most impressive is the Umberto Panini Motor Museum otherwise called the Panini Collection. The Panini Collection is reknown for having a large collection of Maseratis, which the city of Modena convinced Umberto Panini to buy in order to keep the collection in Modena.
Built in 1996, the collection consists of 40 cards, 80 motorcycles and various bicycles, engines, tractors and prototypes.
Museum Hours: Mon to Fri 9 am/12:30-14.:30/18:00, Sat 9a/12:30. Website: www.paninimotormuseum.it Admission: Free. Location: The Motor Museum is built alongside Hombre Farm, an organic family farm, which produces Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.
Do you need to be a car enthusiast to enjoy Motor Valley?
No. I am not a car aficionado by any means, but exploring this region through a thematic tour of cars and food, will wow anyone! Personally, the guided factory tours were a real eye-opener to me and enhanced my appreciation of these super cars which I knew very little about. By the end of my three days, I appreciated a lot about the super cars to feel like a new inductee into its fan club.