Friday, February 3, 2012

A Tifosa’s Guide to Maranello

As I posted a couple of days ago, a day in Maranello is one of the ultimate experiences that a Ferrari fan or indeed any fan of Formula 1 can have. Aside from being the perfect place to view the famous Italian cars, it is steeped in history and the little town is full of atmosphere. As a child, I had always dreamt of seeing Italy and Maranello was at the centre of that dream. Everyone has their own reasons for wanting to visit the legendary town. Some view it as one of many tourist locations in the north of Italy, others are car enthusiasts and many are casual fans of the brand who are curious to see where the magic happens. For those of us who call ourselves tifosi, however, the town takes on an almost religious significance.

I remember the first time that I went across the bridge that leads you into Maranello. I was so excited and so full of emotion. When I looked out of the bus window, I could see Fiorano looming on my right hand side. I thought about everything that Ferrari means to me and I cried my eyes out. I thought about when I was a little girl and I would paint my face with a prancing horse on it before every race. I thought about the book that I used to keep filled with articles and updates, everything about Ferrari that I could get my hands on. I thought about that rainy Canadian Grand Prix, when I stood opposite the Ferrari pits absolutely drenched and cheering on a 1-2 finish with the team. I thought about all of the times that Ferrari inspired me to hope and believe in myself. Most of all I thought about the day when I made myself the promise to go to Maranello and pay my respects to the team that changed my life. It is impossible for me to explain just how much Ferrari means to me in so short a space, but I’m sure that anyone else who feels this passion within them can relate.

As a teenager, I studied maps and articles about Maranello. I guess that you could say I was obsessed with the home of Ferrari. Anything about Maranello that I could find, I would devour with the ravenous appetite of a beast that hadn’t eaten in several days. It will therefore come as no surprise that when I arrived in Maranello for the first time, I already knew my way around! Everything was just as I had imagined it would be and that initial visit was nothing short of magical.

In the years since, I have been back to Maranello many times. Although I have never lived in the town, I think that I know it fairly well (at least the parts of it that relate to Ferrari). There are countless things to see and do in Maranello and everyone has preferred spots and attractions. Part of the fun of seeing Maranello for yourself is wandering off the beaten track and discovering your very own special place within the home of Ferrari. The following are some of my favourite things to see and do in Maranello:

  • My favourite photo opportunity is right in front of the historic front gates to the Ferrari factory. (located on Via Abetone Inferiore) Often the new drivers are photographed here just before they enter the factory. Once you exit the bus, you can’t really miss this landmark as it is right across the street. For those of you who are truly curious, a decent place to view cars exiting the factory and various delivery vehicles coming and going throughout the day is along the side of the complex. From the historic front gates walk the way that the bus came and take your first right onto Via Luigi Musso. Once on the correct street, walk a further 5 minutes down the road and you will notice the side entrance on your right. The entrance that all the employees use is around the back of the factory. Follow the perimeter and you will eventually come to a huge parking lot and notice guarded gates. This is where many of the employees of Ferrari come to work in the morning.

  • If you are looking to see cars running on the track, one of the quickest places to get to from the bus stop is the bridge that the bus would have passed over on its way into Maranello. Walk towards the bridge on Via Abetone Inferiore and turn into the bushes along the left hand side. You can get a great view of much of the track from this spot but sadly, because of the double fence, it is a terrible place to take photos.
  • The Museo Ferrari or Galleria Ferrari, as it was known when I first came to Maranello, is one of those must-see places for all tifosi. There are plenty of signs to follow that will take you to the museum, so don’t worry about not being able to find it. Although the entrance fee is fairly steep, it is absolutely worth it to see the many Ferraris and memorabilia on display. Ferrari changes the display throughout the year, so there is often something different to see even if you have visited before. My favourite room is what I have nicknamed the trophy room. In this room there is currently on display every World Championship winning Ferrari of my lifetime as well as many of the trophies that have been won over the last ten years. This is a special room, where I often pause to remember my favourite emotional Ferrari triumphs.

  • If you turn left upon exiting the Galleria and then take the next street right (Via Ascari), you will notice that you are walking along a dead-end road. At the end is a somewhat plain building that only seems vaguely interesting because of the prancing horse emblazoned on its side. Do not be fooled by the lack of tourists who visit this site. You are in fact standing directly in front of Ferrari’s scuderia headquarters!

  • Upon rejoining the main road, turn right and walk for about 5-10 minutes. This walk will seem to last an eternity because it is completely industrialised and there is not even a pavement for pedestrians to walk upon, don’t give up, there is gold at the end of this road. Once you arrive at your destination, turn right, you are standing on what has been named Via Gilles Villeneuve. Immediately on your left you will notice a monument that has been dedicated to the French Canadian. There are often fresh flowers that have been placed beneath it and it is a lovely tribute to the legendary Ferrari driver.

  • At the very end of Via Gilles Villeneuve are the main gates to the Fiorano circuit. Unless you have friends in high places or are extremely lucky you will not be able to pass any further. Still, I like to stand outside and wait for the rare moments that the gates are opened. Sometimes I even contemplate making a mad dash for it!

  • Walking back down Via Gilles Villeneuve you will notice a decent view of the track down one of the little streets on your right. This is my favourite place to take pictures from and also a good place to daydream and contemplate life. I often spend a great deal of time in this one particular spot before heading back towards the bus stop at the end of the day. It is especially fantastic when there are Ferraris running on the track. There is nothing better than ending another amazing day in Maranello with the sound of Ferrari engines echoing around Fiorano.

So there you have it, those are my favourite things to do in Maranello. There are of course many other attractions within the famous Italian town. The reason that I did not include any shopping is because I find it to be overpriced and honestly, the selection isn’t even that great. Still, it is obviously worth a look and there are many stores to choose from in Maranello. The most famous is called “Warm-Up” and is located right next to the Galleria Ferrari. You can’t miss it because there are always huge Ferrari paintings on the outside of the shop.

I have also not spoken about the Ristorante Cavallino, where many of the drivers and employees of Ferrari are rumoured to eat, because I have never eaten there. I do intend on trying it one day, I just usually bring a packed lunch to Maranello like a small child on a field trip! I have a friend who used to work for Ferrari back in the days of Michael Schumacher and she assures me that team meetings and functions are still held in the restaurant even to this day. There is also apparently a selection of memorabilia on display there. The more that I talk about it now, the more I want to go and visit next time that I’m in Maranello!

Ferrari driving experiences can also be purchased from several stores located in the vicinity of the Museo Ferrari and throughout the year there are many different events that are geared towards fans.

Overall I would highly recommend a visit to Maranello even if you aren’t a die-hard tifosa like I am. If you are looking to see a particular Maranello landmark that I have missed out in this guide (there are several) please feel free to ask me questions and if you have a Maranello experience of your own, I would love to hear about it. I hope that this blog has provided you with some helpful tips and inspired you to take the plunge and begin a scarlet pilgrimage of your own.

1 comment:

  1. Great pics and tips for visiting Ferrari HQ, I'll be sure to use your article as a reference when I visit next year :)