Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Sudden Snowfall

It’s snowing and I’m not talking about the kind of snow that is more like rain and melts the moment that it hits the ground. This snow is thick and seems to be lingering on the street outside my window. The weather turned icy today and according to the locals this cold snap could be here to stay for quite some time. Normally I love snow, in fact for me it doesn’t quite feel like winter until the trees sparkle with frost and children throw snowballs at one another in the streets. This year, however, I would have preferred it to stay away for just one week longer. Although I will most likely be out and about tomorrow morning snapping pictures and enjoying Lodi in the snow, this sudden flurry has me worried about the planned shake down of the new Ferrari on Friday.

For those of you who don’t remember, the shake down (or promotional filming as it is sometimes referred to because of restrictions on testing) of Ferrari’s 2010 single-seater the F10 was cancelled due to bad weather which included snow and ice. Obviously this precedent has given me cause for concern.

Thankfully my friend Alex, who is an avid McLaren fan and Formula 1 enthusiast, was able to bring a smile to my face when she reminded me of the birth of Enzo Ferrari. It was 1898 and there was a snow storm in Modena on that February day. Legend has it the snowfall was so bad that Enzo’s father Alfredo was unable to leave his house and thus Enzo Ferrari’s birth was registered on February 20th instead of February 18th. Keeping this in mind, maybe the snow will be a good omen for Ferrari after all.

I looked at the long range forecast for Maranello this weekend and both snow and below freezing temperatures are expected for Friday and Saturday. It seems as though Mother Nature is determined to pay tribute to Enzo Ferrari in the only way that she can. I guess that all there is left to do now is keep my fingers crossed and hope that whatever the weather, the team decides to give the tifosi, who will surely show up in hoards this Friday, a glimpse of their latest championship contender. In addition to this, I will be sure to wear my warmest winter jacket along with several sweaters! Until then I’ve decided to make the most out of this snow, however long it lasts.

How to Get to Maranello

As a tifosa, the first time that I visited Maranello was a highly emotional experience. It was the fulfillment of a dream that had been a lifetime in the making. I remember when I was a little girl I kept diaries and within them I would often scribble my thoughts on Ferrari and also my plans for the future. Amongst the pages of enthusiastic writing was a map that I drew, along with specific instructions on how to get to Maranello by train. At the time I was only fifteen and Italy was an ocean away, seemingly out of reach. Still, I promised myself that one day I would be fully grown and make the journey to Ferrari’s home. Fast forward six years later when I was studying at university and taking my first cautious steps out in the world. After years of waiting, I flew to the Italian city of Forli and excitedly began my quest to find Maranello.

You would think that being a massive tourist draw in northern Italy would mean that the little town was easy to find and yet even with my detailed notes, getting to Maranello was no easy task. The locals in Modena (the nearest city with a train station) are friendly enough that if you ask them they will give you directions, however, if you are like me, you would rather be prepared. Recently I performed a search on the internet to see how many truly helpful guides to Maranello that I could find. I thought that there would be hundreds, I was wrong. While there are a few pages with detailed descriptions of the town itself, there are only a few step by step guides of how to get there and I found that many lack detail or are simply confusing. The following is therefore a step by step guide of how to get to Maranello without a car and I will follow this particular blog entry up with my personal guide to Maranello. I also intend to take pictures along the route that I describe below and post them here just in case you are like me and terrible with directions! Please do not hesitate to ask me questions. I hope that this information is helpful to all tifosi who wish to follow their Ferrari dreams.

  • The first step in our journey to Maranello is to board a train bound for Modena. Modena is the closest major centre to Maranello and it is from here that you will catch your bus to the fabled town.

  • Upon arrival in Modena, exit the front of the train station. You will notice immediately a small local bus depot on your right. I have been told that you can catch a bus here that will take you directly to the main bus station but why bother when it is only a short 10-15 minute walk away?

  • Walk straight by the bus depot and take the first turn right on Viale Monte Kosica. You will want to cross the street here as well because the bus station that you are trying to find is on the other side.

  • Walk straight for approximately 5 minutes and you will come to a round about. It is the left hand road that you want to follow. (you will still be on Viale Monte Kosica) You know that you have gone the right way if you pass the Modena football club on your right shortly.

  • Walk a further 5-10 minutes (depending on walking speed) and you will notice the bus station straight ahead.

  • You will have to purchase a ticket before getting on the bus. If you go into the little mall on your left (it contains a police station and a few small shops) you will notice a ticket counter immediately on your left. You want to purchase a return ticket to Maranello. The people who work at the ticket counter only speak Italian so you will have to say that you want “uno/due biglietto/i per Maranello andata e ritorno.” There are no obvious places to purchase a return ticket once in Maranello, especially on the weekends when almost everything is closed, so do yourself a favour and don’t buy a one way ticket unless you plan on staying in Maranello for several days.
  • Once you purchase your ticket you can go and wait for your bus. There are signs at each docking bay that tell you where the next bus is going and when it is due. On weekends especially the bus to Maranello comes only once every hour (usually on the hour) so you may want to wait in one of the nearby cafes if you have just missed one.
  • When the bus arrives you will usually hear foreign tourists talking about Ferrari in the line, it is a popular destination so don’t worry about missing your stop as the bus will certainly stop in Maranello with half the bus getting off.
  • The journey takes approximately twenty minutes and Maranello will suddenly seem to spring out of nowhere. If you are sitting on the right hand side of the bus during the winter you will most likely get a view of the Fiorano circuit as you approach the town. (in the summer the view is unfortunately obscured by trees and bushes) If you are sitting on the left, you have a view of the historic front gates of the Ferrari factory.
  • The bus stops almost directly outside a Formula 1 book store near the historic entrance and you will notice that you can catch your return bus across the street.

Catching a train and then a bus is of course not the only way to get to Maranello. I have also been by car before and found that the roads to the town were well marked and seemed easy to follow. (My boyfriend was driving and he didn’t have any issues. I also noticed many signs along the way.)

Now that you know how to get there, make sure to keep on checking my blog as I plan on writing about some of my favourite things to see and do in Maranello in the next few days.

Monday, January 30, 2012

How to Woo Adrian Newey

Luca di Montezemolo recently stated in the Italian newspaper La Gazetta dello Sport that he didn’t think there was much hope of ever coaxing Red Bull’s famous technical director Adrian Newey to Maranello because the Englishman’s wife views Italy as a third world country. Having been here for half a year, I have to say that overall my standard of living has remained unchanged and even improved because of the country’s wonderful fresh food and relaxed atmosphere. In fact if the Neweys did decide to move here it would be hard for them not to fall in love with this charming country. There is, however, one thing about Italy that can give tourists the wrong impression. I am of course talking about the Italian version of toilets. For those of you who have never had the pleasure of using a traditional Italian toilet, they are glorified holes in the ground with a little bit of privacy. Perhaps the oddest thing about these toilets, and I use the term loosely, is that they are often surrounded by a kind of ribbed porcelain ring. Presumably the ribbing is to prevent the unlucky user from falling over while undertaking the tricky task of balancing and doing their business at the same time. Still, even with this apparent upgrade, the whole experience is both awkward and uncomfortable.

You would think that such a thing would be confined to impoverished farms and the history books, but the cringe-worthy commodes are in fact scattered amongst restaurants, bars and businesses throughout the country. Even more shocking still is that they can also appear in modern venues, thus taking the unsuspecting foreign patron by surprise in their moment of need.

My first encounter with one of these medieval waste receptacles was in 2004 while on my very first Ferrari pilgrimage. I was staying in Forli, where Enzo Ferrari’s mother was originally from, and took a train to Imola for the day. Although there was no track action on that particular visit, I enjoyed every moment exploring the, track, grandstands and walking through the surrounding park. Don’t worry if you are yourself contemplating a visit to Imola and would like to know more. I will include a detailed description of the track on another day. Something just seems inappropriate about mentioning toilets and the emotions of Imola in the same breath!

After spending several hours at the circuit and a brief amount of time looking around the Autodromo Dino Ferrari’s gift shop I decided to head back to Forli. Throughout the day I had barely stopped for a drink of water and I was thus bursting to use the facilities. Thankfully a local bar near the train station was open and when the barrista directed me towards the restroom door, I began to relax. I’m sure that you can guess what horror awaited me on the other side of the door. It was a minor glitch in an otherwise fantastic day and yet whenever I tell the tale of my trip to Imola I always include something about the hole, much to everyone’s amusement.

Perhaps Mrs. Newey also ventured over to Italy as a young woman before the Italians began installing the porcelain ribbing for traction. Maybe after a marvellous day spent site seeing and indulging in Italian cuisine, she took a tumble, forcing her to ruin her new designer shoes. We may never know the true cause of her rumoured prejudice against Italy and yet one thing is certain; if Ferrari are indeed serious about obtaining the services of a man who seems to have perfected the winning formula, they had better ensure that both him and his entourage always have proper seats for their behinds!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Beautiful Beast

The Formula 1 pre-season has officially begun! Caterham launched their 2012 single-seater earlier last week and McLaren, Force India and Ferrari are all set to follow in the coming days. I have to say that if the rest of the grid looks like the deranged sea mammal that the Norfolk-based Caterham have produced, we’re in for one ugly grid this year. Okay, maybe I’m being a little bit harsh on the CT01, I am after all no aerodynamicist but still I know that I am not the only one who is turned off by that nose. It makes me wonder what monstrosity will emerge from the fog when the new Ferrari makes its way around Fiorano for the first time on Friday. Both Stefano Domenicali and Luca di Montezemolo have been quoted describing the car as less than attractive so chances are the new baby will be no raving beauty. Of course, beauty is not everything. My boyfriend Luca was quick to remind me of the Ferrari 312T4. It was, as he put it, “The ugliest thing since the March ‘tea tray’” and yet no one complained because Ferrari was able to secure both the constructor’s and driver’s championships with it in 1979. Ferrari too seem to be taking the attitude that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and that it will be the character of the car that wins tifosi hearts. Luca di Montezemolo joked about the new single-seater at Ferrari’s Wroom event “I’d like it to look lousy: I say that provocatively because I want it to be a winner, reliable but also simpatico in the sense that it knows how to win with a smile!”

Just in case you can’t wait until Friday to speculate on which direction Ferrari have gone, I discovered yesterday that the Italian magazine Austosprint has created predictive drawings of what is set to be named the F12 or F2012 in their latest magazine! http://www.auto.it/autosprint/formula_1/2012/01/23-10200/I+segreti+della+Ferrari+F12+oggi+su+AS Buy it if you can get your sweaty little hands on it, I know that I will!

Even after the car launch on Friday, Ferrari will likely still be keeping a few things under wraps until March. At this point the only thing that I can say for certain is that we won’t know exactly how fast the new Ferrari is until the first race of the season in Melbourne. Remember last year’s pre-season testing? I was feeling very confident in the Ferrari 150ยบ Italia (although all the fuss over the name seemed like a bad omen to me) and McLaren looked way off the pace. I remember on several occasions feeling a premature sense of smugness while watching the time sheets and then being surprised by both McLaren and Red Bull at the first race. I won’t be making that mistake again this year.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Dromedaries, Cyclists and Ferrets

It’s the weekend and I’m busy writing down all of the events that I want to attend over the next few months on my calendar. I’m excited to be getting some use out of the pen that I purchased in Dubai on my way home from Australia. For those of you who have never flown through Dubai before it is a Mecca for trinkets, both tacky and beautiful. Everything is also extremely affordable, so if you have a four hour layover like I did you can end up going a little bit nuts. My purchases included several stuffed dromedaries and the pen that I mentioned above that is shaped like a Muslim man in traditional dress. When you want to open the pen, you push his head down. It was either that or what can best be described as a sexy camel pen.

Anyway, back to my calendar. I have a lot of exciting events coming up over the next few months. There’s the car launch and carnevale of course in February. What I am also really looking forward to is the month of May. The month starts off with a three day Formula 1 test in Mugello followed by the iconic Mille Miglia, the Giro d’Italia (which this year finishes with a time trial stage in Milan!) and the Monaco Grand Prix!  It’s going to be an exhausting but fantastic month.

For those of you who don’t know, I follow cycling as well as Formula 1. Admittedly my passion for professional cycling doesn’t grip me in quite the same way that automobile racing does, but I watch the Tour de France every year religiously and manage to get quite involved in it. I love the skill and the daring of these mostly little men who climb the steepest mountains in the world for miles on end, only to hurl their bodies down the other side of them without hesitation. You can draw parallels between cycling and motor racing, as they share many of the same elements. It’s no wonder that many of the people who love automobile racing also find themselves drawn to the world of cycling. Ferrari's own Fernando Alonso is himself an avid cyclist and only a few years ago nurtured dreams of forming a professional cycling team with his countryman Alberto Contador. Italians too have quite a fondness for the sport and on any given day you see countless groups of riders speeding along the roads on their thousand Euro bicycles. Sometimes I even see the odd jersey that makes me wonder if I just caught a glimpse of one of the pros. I can’t wait to attend my first ever time trial and see cyclists like Contador, Cadel Evans and time trial specialist Fabian Cancellara right before my eyes!

As for carnevale, I managed to determine the date of this year’s Carnevale Ambrosiano in Milan (February 21st) but Lodi is proving to be somewhat more difficult. I’ve heard rumours that the actual event will take place the first weekend of February, but there is nothing solid on the internet. What I did manage to find, amusingly enough, was a video on youtube for a ferret carnevale in Lodi. It’s so lame that it is in fact fantastic. Go check it out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UEozvoqTGZg

My friend Alex pointed out to me that the event may be BYOF or bring your own ferret. If that is the case, I know a small child who carries his ferret around Lodi in one of those satchels that hippy mothers use to carry their babies in. I have no doubt that I could enlist his help in creating a garment for the glorified rodent that would enable me to attend this year’s event. Once again, I love these people!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Lodi’s Red Son

For those of you who don’t know me personally, I live in a lovely little medieval city called Lodi. I picked this place because of its proximity to Maranello and also because it is near a major centre, allowing me easy access to the rest of the country. (I like to explore!) The Laudense (the name given to the inhabitants of Lodi) are a friendly and quirky bunch of people who put on fabulous celebrations, both planned and spontaneous. My favourite of these celebrations has come to be what I have nicknamed the Sunday morning parade. In the summer months especially, I will be quite frequently awoken on a Sunday morning by the sound of drums and music beneath my balcony as one of these spontaneous parades passes by. The locals quickly move out of the way and clap in time to the music as they enjoy the spectacle. Lodi is definitely one of those cities where everyone knows one another and at any point during the day you can hear the greeting “ciao!” floating on the wind. They are not used to tourists and thus there is a distinctly Italian atmosphere here that is not limited to the buildings and cobblestoned roads.

Lodi is known for its beautiful square, medieval castle and for producing champion roller hockey players. There are so many reasons that I love this charming city and this summer I discovered yet another one. When my boyfriend came to Lodi for the Italian Grand Prix, we stayed in a local hotel close to the train station. One morning we were walking around the hotel when we passed a room that was named the Eugenio Castellotti room. Luca became instantly excited because he had finished reading a book about the former Ferrari driver several months prior to his visit. Upon entering the room we discovered that although Castellotti has been described as the dashing Milanese (he was from an aristocratic family and considered to be attractive), the Italian was actually from Lodi. Personally I had little knowledge of the man, but as we looked at the photos inside the room, Luca filled me in. Not only was Castellotti an Italian Ferrari driver during the 1950s, but he was widely acknowledged as being extremely talented. Statistically he completed 14 Grand Prix before his death during a private Ferrari test on March 14, 1957. In his short racing career, the talented young man from Lodi managed to win the legendary Mille Miglia race in Brescia and obtained three podium finishes for the Scuderia Ferrari.

Wandering around the room, one photo stood out to me especially. It was a picture of Eugenio Castellotti standing with Enzo Ferrari in none other than Lodi’s famous square, Piazza della Vittoria. Now every time I walk through the centre of town, I can’t help but think of Eugenio and what he might have achieved had he not died in Modena at age twenty six.

The city is proud of its famous red son and there is a simple monument that has been erected in his honour along the road that leads to the train station. There is also a group of local racing enthusiasts who have formed a club in his name. Their website is in Italian, but if you can make it out (I barely can!), it’s an interesting read. http://www.clubeugeniocastellotti.com/

Number 27

With today being the 27th I couldn’t help but think about the most famous number 27 in Ferrari’s history. All you tifosi will have surely guessed that I’m talking about Gilles Villeneuve. What is it about Gilles that inspires me so much? After all he died driving a Ferrari two years before I was even born. It isn’t simply the fact that he was arguably the greatest Canadian Formula 1 driver of all time (His son Jacques was statistically more successful, winning the World Championship in 1997…but lets face it, he never had the talent of his legendary father.) In fact, Gilles is considered by many to be amongst the greatest drivers of all time. For me Gilles was the physical embodiment of everything that I love about Ferrari…perhaps that is why Enzo Ferrari admired him so much. He was a fighter who could even drive a snowmobile fast (and indeed this was how he started his racing career.) He was determined, passionate and straightforward. I think that Gilles’s peer Jacques Laffite summed him up quite well when he said "I know that no human being can do a miracle. Nobody commands magical properties, but Gilles made you wonder. He was that quick."

The legend of Gilles Villeneuve is so intertwined with the legend of Ferrari itself that the little French Canadian’s presence is strongly felt in Maranello, even to this day. There are pictures of him in his racing overalls hanging in the streets, the museum is full of Gilles Villeneuve memorabilia and there is even a monument dedicated to him on a road that bears his name. Incidentally this is the same road that leads you to the entrance of Fiorano. For these reasons, the number 27 will always be special to me and to countless other tifosi.

Canadians pay tribute to their fallen hero every year when the Formula One circus comes to Montreal and races at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. Although I have only ever attended races at two different circuits (Montreal and Monza) I have heard many people who have had the opportunity to watch Formula 1 all over the world state that the Canadian Grand Prix is amongst their favourites. Seeing as I grew up in Montreal, I think that the Canadian Grand Prix will also always hold a special place in my heart.

I started attending races with my father at the island circuit when I was a pre teen and first fell in love with Formula 1. I’ll never forget my first Grand Prix. It was 1998 and I was sitting at the Senna S (the first corner at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve) Aside from the spectacular collisions that I witnessed and of course the eventual Ferrari victory, one thing that stands out in my mind was the moment when I first saw a Formula 1 car. It was so big and polished to glossy perfection. The Ferrari red in those days was turning orange, but I still thought that it was magnificent. The engine notes were smooth and commanding and I could feel the ground tremble as I stood with my nose pressed up to the fence. Michael Schumacher was the Ferrari driver to watch and as he passed by he turned around to look at me from beneath his visor, searching for his braking point.

These days I couldn’t stand up against the fence like that even if I wanted to and the whole section where I witnessed my very first Grand Prix has been transformed into a VIP area. In recent years I have started sitting on the start/finish straight because I enjoy watching the team as they work throughout the weekend. Having been to Monza, I will say that Montreal still gives the fans amazing access to the cars and drivers. There is pit lane open day, which occurs a few days before the race weekend and the grandstands are notably close to the track. There is also the wonderful perk of being able to invade the circuit after all the action is completed. As a spectator you can get right under the podium for the champagne ceremony and the pit lane walls are very low so you can see right into the team’s garages and get close to parc ferme. The whole experience is very intimate.

The last time that I attended the Canadian Grand Prix was in 2010 when I first made my bold decision to give everything up and move to Italy. I decided that this year I will return to Montreal in June to catch the race. Currently I am debating where to sit, but I don’t want to procrastinate for too long because the event is always a sell out. As I said above, I have opted for the start/finish straight for several races and always enjoyed those seats. This year, however, I think that I will return to where it all began and sit at the first corner. I am looking forward to returning to my hometown and hopefully a Ferrari victory!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Angry Bird

Those of you who know me well know that Halloween has always been my favourite holiday. What’s not to like? You dress up, roam around the neighbourhood in search of treats and no one feels left out like they do on many of the more popular holidays. Over the years my Halloween costumes have become more and more random, from Hulk Hogan to 50 Cent, I always enjoy picking an outfit more ridiculous than the one that I wore last year! Often I will make my costumes myself, a tradition started by my mother when I was a child, and in general I try to go all out for the big day.

 Sadly they don’t really celebrate Halloween in Italy. In fact this year I noticed only two children dressed up on Halloween night, it was really pathetic. Much to my relief, while looking for Italian Halloween traditions on the internet I discovered that these lively people celebrate something possibly better. Something that incorporates all of my favourite parts of Halloween and magnifies them! They call this annual event carnevale! Every February cities all over Italy host parades and fairs for up to an entire month. Children and adults alike revel in the streets wearing masks and elaborate costumes. Before I moved to Italy, the only carnevale that I had ever heard of was the one in Brazil. I associated it with feathers, sparkly thongs and mild nudity. The Italian version, however seems to be about bringing life and colour to an otherwise dreary and depressing month. Given my passion for costumes and Halloween, I have naturally been waiting for the arrival of February for quite some time now!

With January coming to a close, the word carnevale is already on the tip of everyone’s tongues. The locals are talking about some kind of a parade (I never fully understand what people are on about because they use Italian phrases and sayings that seem to have no literal translation into English) and many of the stores have carnivale displays in their windows. This being my first carnevale, I had no idea what to wear and wanted to try a traditional Italian style mask. Still with the kick off being only several weeks away I was lacking inspiration. Then a few days ago while walking around Lodi I passed one of those stores that sells homemade crafts, random trinkets and various herbs and potions. Usually I don’t go in because part of me is afraid that if I don’t purchase something the owner will put a voodoo hex on me. On this particular occasion, however there was a small box sitting outside the door filled with home made carnevale masks. I enthusiastically rummaged through it and fell instantly in love with what may be the most sinister looking mask that I have ever seen! The only way to describe it would be an angry bird mask, a crow straight from the depths of Hades stalking your dreams…ok perhaps that description was a little bit dramatic, but the drama is what I love about this mask. Of course after being seduced by its dark facade I had to purchase it and plan on making it the key element of my carnevale costume.

In a way it’s kind of ironic that I happened to choose a mask that resembles an angry bird. Recently I have become obsessed with a computer game called Angry Birds. The basic plot is that some pigs (who also happen to be green for some reason…possibly because they have been consumed by pure evil?) steal several bird eggs with the plan of poaching them. The birds therefore take vengeance on the pigs by dive bombing their various forts and enclosures with the ultimate goal of slaughtering them. Sounds violent doesn’t it? The music is actually quite cheerful and the birds all make different cute noises as they prepare to launch themselves into the air. Anyway, clearly simply playing the game is not enough for my subconscious mind. I identify with the bird’s plight so much that I will join their ranks, even if it is for one day and with the aim of getting candy…green pigs beware.

Australia and The Italian Earthquake

Happy New Year everyone! This past month has been hectic, but really amazing. I just got back from Melbourne, Australia a short while ago. I can’t believe that in just over a month Formula 1 cars will be rocketing around Albert Park. The only real indication that it’s a circuit at all is the permanent pit lane structure that has been erected along the start/finish straight. There are no grandstands, no gravel traps and there are many cyclists going for their daily workouts on the track. One of the best things about Albert Park is that you can drive around most of it in your car, unfortunately you can’t do it at speed. My boyfriend Luca was the perfect driver for my lap around the circuit. Luca is a long time Formula 1 SIM racer as well as a Melbourne native and so he knows every twist and turn like the back of his hand. I’ve posted a picture of Melbourne from Albert Park as it looked a few weeks ago!

The city itself is very safe and there is so much to do! Aside from spending several days in Melbourne itself, we also ventured to an area nearby known as the Yarra Valley. There are hundreds of world famous vineyards there as well as an animal sanctuary. I had a wonderful time courtesy of Wild Wombat Winery Tours. They took Luca and I to five different cellar doors and admittedly by my third or fourth wine sample I was already fairly inebriated. Thankfully the atmosphere was extremely relaxed and thus when I managed to get myself locked in a toilet cubical, everyone had a good laugh! So much for being classy!

One of the things that I had been talking about frequently in the lead up to my trip to Australia was the prospect of interacting with the Australian wildlife. Everyone from Oprah to that annoying woman who lets the media exploit her eight children seems to get photographed while holding a semi-sedated koala bear. I too wanted to touch the luscious fur of a wallaby (those miniature kangaroos) and cuddle a wombat. Thankfully the Healesville Sanctuary has anticipated this desire and allows visitors to purchase what are called magic moments. These ten minute slots of time allow you to feed, touch and get up close and personal with the animals. I opted for a moment with some kangaroos. Before actually entering the enclosure a keeper gave me instructions on how to approach and interact with the iconic Australian animals. Apparently you should never touch their heads and if one grabs your hand you must not pull away. Amusingly enough I was told that pulling away could result in getting scratched or punched! The keeper ushered the larger male kangaroo away with a food bribe exclaiming “Come on Trevor!” as if the creature was his favourite drinking buddy. After the warning about getting punched, I was naturally hesitant to touch the friendly beasts as they ate various treats such as corn and carrots straight from my hand. I had visions of returning to Italy with a black eye and having to endure fits of laughter when I explained that I had been punched by a kangaroo. After a few minutes in their company, however, I got up the nerve to pat the female that I was feeding. As I gained more confidence, she came ever closer until eventually she grasped my hand with her claw. I know that the moment probably wasn’t all that magical for her, she most likely gets poked and prodded by various tourists multiple times a day and in the scorching temperatures would have certainly preferred to sleep under a tree. For me, however, it was wonderful to be able to gain the trust of this beautiful animal. Overall Australia was even better than I thought that it would be and I can’t wait to see it again when I return this summer!

After a thirty hour journey home, I arrived safely back in Italy! I returned to some unseasonably mild weather this January. Being Canadian, I’m used to temperatures of -40 degrees Celsius around this time of year and so I am running around in sweaters proclaiming that it feels like sping! We also had an earthquake that originated in Emilia Romagna on Wednesday. It wasn’t very strong and only lasted about a minute, so I don’t think that any damage has been done to the Ferrari factory. It was really strange because I always assumed that earthquakes were more of a southern Italian thing. I was at home when it happened and my whole room shook from side to side with various objects on my shelves sliding around ever so slightly. It’s a good thing that the earthquake didn’t happen during the shake down of the new car next Friday…that would have been unnerving.

Speaking of the shake down, I’ll be off to Maranello on February 3rd to see if I can catch the car launch and traditional running of the new Ferrari at Fiorano. Stefano Domenicali released a statement recently at Ferrari’s annual Wroom skiing event confirming that the launch will be on February 3rd and that the shake down will take place either immediately afterwards or on the following day. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I get to see the new baby’s first steps. Attending a car launch has been a dream of mine for many years!

If I get the chance, I also plan on swinging by the site of the Enzo Ferrari museum in Modena. The museum is supposed to open in February and is situated on the place of Enzo Ferrari’s birth. It even contains restored parts of the Ferrari family’s old factory. I can’t think of a better way to spend a Friday afternoon!