In 1943, Italy was in the midst of a war. Along with other major industrial centres throughout the country, the northern Italian town of Modena became a target for bombing raids. It was during this time that Ferrari founder Enzo Ferrari decided to move his factory to the nearby town of Maranello.
In the years that followed the war, Ferrari grew to become one of the most recognised companies in the world and the name of Maranello has become synonymous with the famous Italian manufacturer.
As a life-long Ferrari fanatic, I spent my youth dreaming about the day that I would finally get to wander its streets for myself. I remember being overcome with extreme emotion and even though I have been back many times since, the town still holds the same power over me.
It is a journey that I believe all tifosi must make at least once in their lifetime and once in the town, there are a number of places that are not to be missed. The following are just a few of the things once must do while on a Ferrari pilgrimage to Maranello.
The Museo Ferrari, or Galleria Ferrari as it was known when I made my very first trip to Maranello, is one of those places that every Ferrari fan is required to see.
Although the building is always swarming with tourists, true fanatics can rest assured that there is a diverse array of cars and other memorabilia on display. In addition to this, exhibits are changed and new items are added throughout the year, keeping the experience fresh each time you visit.
My favourite items in the gallery at the moment are Gilles Villeneuve’s racing overalls and helmet, a Ferrari 126C2 and a mock Ferrari pit wall. In addition to this, there's a spectacular room that houses a vast collection of Ferrari’s trophies and currently every Formula 1 World Championship Ferrari of my lifetime.
Late last year, the Museo Ferrari also began offering a new experience to visitors that can be purchased along with entrance to the museum. Fans are now being given the opportunity to ride a lap around the Fiorano circuit on a bus that has been specifically designed for tours. Tickets are sold in limited numbers, so be sure to reserve your space on the bus before coming to Maranello to ensure that you don’t miss out.
2. Take a Photograph outside the Historic Factory Gates
Before a new Ferrari driver begins his time with the fabled Italian team, it is customary for him to have his photograph taken in front of the historic gates of the Ferrari factory.
Over the years, names such as Michael Schumacher, Jean Alesi and Alain Prost have all passed through the legendary entrance and a trip to Maranello would not be complete without a picture of the landmark.
If you are interested in viewing the much less glamorous entrance, where all cars exit the factory today, head down nearby Via Luigi Musso. The gates are located several minutes down the road on your right.
3. Pay your Respects to Gilles
Gilles Villeneuve is one of the most-loved drivers of all time. His courage, speed and passion for racing made him not only a fan favourite, but also endeared him to Enzo Ferrari himself. When the fiery French Canadian died in 1982, the world mourned and Ferrari was particularly saddened by the tragedy.
It should therefore come as no surprise that there is not only a road that has been named after Villeneuve in Maranello, there is also a bronze bust of him situated beside it. The monument itself is a fitting tribute to Gilles and is always adorned with fresh flowers.
Also worth noting is the fact that the main entrance to Ferrari’s official test track, Fiorano, is located at the end of the street.
4. Watch Prancing Horses in Action
As a car enthusiast, one of the main reasons to make a trip to Maranello is naturally to view the beautiful vehicles. Thanks to the two Ferrari driving experience businesses that are located close to the Museo Ferrari, you can not only guarantee that you will be able to see some of these magical machines up close and personal, you can also take the wheel of one.
If you are very lucky and visit on a weekday especially, you may be able to catch Ferraris running around Fiorano itself at high speeds. I have two favourite places to view the cars when they are out on the circuit.
The first is located just off Via Gilles Villeneuve. Here you can take some fairly decent photographs without being obstructed by many layers of fencing.
For an overall fantastic view of the track, however, you must return to the bridge that is situated further down from where the historic factory gates greet visitors on Via Abetone Inferiore. Here, it is possible to see a great deal of action and also take a few pictures of the circuit as a whole.
5. Splurge on Ferrari Merchandise
While it’s true that Ferrari merchandise comes with a hefty price tag, it is absolutely necessary for visitors to Maranello to check out some of the many stores that are located in the area. From rare books to prancing horse jewelry, these stores sell every Ferrari related item that an enthusiast can dream of.
Even if you don’t intend on purchasing anything, it is always interesting to look at the memorabilia and talk to the staff, who are often fanatics themselves.
The most famous store in Maranello is called Pit Stop. It is known for its model car collection and for the beautiful Ferrari-inspired artwork that is displayed directly outside the building. The last time that I was in Maranello, I purchased a rather unique Ferrari 126C2 pin along with several postcards that caught my eye.
There are of course many other things to see and do in Maranello and it is impossible to talk about all of them in one article alone. Perhaps the most wonderful thing about the town is that there are so many activities on offer for everyone from die-hard fanatics to casual tourists.
The next time that you are travelling in Italy, be sure to include Maranello in your plans. Whether you are a life-long tifosa like me or a curious car enthusiast who is looking for a great day out, you are sure to have an amazing time.
By Danielle Blaschuk
Photo Credits: Danielle Blaschuk/Carscoop