Saturday, March 10, 2012

Museo Casa Enzo Ferrari: Grand Opening

As I reported yesterday evening, today marked the grand opening of the Museo Casa Enzo Ferrari (Enzo Ferrari Museum) in Modena and I made my way to the city especially to partake in the event.

I left Lodi late in the morning simply because the Museo Casa Enzo Ferrari was not scheduled to open until five in the afternoon and although I also planned on heading to Maranello for a few hours, I didn’t want to arrive too early. The train that I boarded was travelling all the way down to Rome and seemed to stop at every station along the way to Modena. As I settled into my chair, a group of teenaged boys took seats nearby and began to talk loudly amongst one another. It seemed that they were also on their way to the Enzo Ferrari Museum for the day and I began to get excited listening to them discussing it. According to the boys the museum was expected to draw thousands of visitors on the first day and there would be no admission charge for those in attendance. As I looked out the window, I smiled secretively; this was going to be an epic experience!

When the train pulled up to the Modena train station, I immediately made my way to the main bus terminal nearby. While the area is usually busy, today it was insane and bustling with people. Buses were departing for Maranello as often as every five minutes and I crammed my way onto one of them quickly. When I arrived at the little town thirty minutes later I was surprised to find it incredibly empty.

While it is true that I enjoy Maranello during the week, when it is full of visitors, I think that I prefer it on the weekends when it is quiet and peaceful. On days like today, I will usually spend an hour or more at my favourite spot, which overlooks Fiorano, just thinking about Ferrari and life in general. This afternoon as I stared out pensively onto the empty circuit my thoughts turned to Melbourne and the approaching Grand Prix. Although pre-season testing and all of the comments that have come out of Maranello recently have left me worried, I still have faith in Ferrari and especially in the spirit of its employees. If any team can triumph over adversity it is them and before I boarded the bus back to Modena, I took a moment to send my positive thoughts their way…Forza Ferrari!

Once back in Modena, I set out to find the Museo Casa Enzo Ferrari. I had written down some vague directions that I had discovered on the internet, but as I neared the area where the museum is located (very near the train station) it became immediately obvious that I would not need them. The path to the museum had been marked by an army of yellow banners which all had a picture of Enzo Ferrari’s famous sunglasses on them along with one of his most quoted sayings. “Se lo poi sognare lo poi fare.” They stated, or “If you can dream it, you can do it” in English.

After only a few short minutes of walking, I joined a rather large crowd that had congregated in front of a big, glossy, yellow gate which stood between us and the long driveway leading up to the museum. In the distance I could see Alfredo Ferrari’s old factory as well as many police officers preparing for the first visitors. The crowd was filled with local Italians as well as a few people who had gone a little bit overboard with their wardrobe selections. One man in particular made me laugh. He was standing directly in front of me wearing every piece of Ferrari gear imaginable and was also carrying a large flag puzzlingly enough. I came close on several occasions to asking him exactly what he planned on doing with a flag inside a museum but decided that it was probably best to just keep quiet on this point.

As more people joined the crowd, the minutes ticked down and suddenly at a few minutes before five o’clock, the big, yellow gate began to slowly open. I found myself amongst several people who were at the very front of the line and decided that I would attempt to become one of the museum’s first public visitors. Walking at a brisk pace, I managed to pass a few of the slow movers and ended up in a small group of about fifteen people who had the honour of being the very first members of the public to see the museum. The media took several photographs of our group and of the official first visitor in particular. She was kitted out in Ferrari gear and was a very fitting representative of the type of people all over the world who will be anxious to see the inside of the museum.

The tour guide explained in Italian that we would have to stay with him and walk through the museum quickly, only taking several photos. I decided that this plan was not to my liking and after signing the guest book on page number one, I drifted back a little bit and pretended not to understand the language.

The inside of the Museo Casa Enzo Ferrari was absolutely stunning. I loved the open concept and its modern feel. There were a whole variety of classic race cars in the main building, from Alfa Romeos to Maseratis. My only real complaint was that parts of the museum had been sectioned off for the opening. It would have been nice to read a little bit more about the cars and the history that I was looking at. Still, the displays were beautiful and the architecture was awe inspiring.

After spending a lot longer than I was supposed to in the new area, I made my way to the building that used to be Alfredo Ferrari’s factory. This was the part of the museum that I had been anticipating the most as it is a physical part of Ferrari’s history. The outside of it was pretty interesting and when I looked at the reconstructed façade I was able to imagine what Enzo Ferrari’s life was like when he was a boy. Unfortunately the inside of the house was not at all what I had expected. I had hoped for a large quantity of memorabilia from Ferrari’s childhood and even the recreation of parts of the inside of the factory. Instead, there were several videos playing on the white walls and a few Ferrari magazines and model cars. One item that I did enjoy, however, was Enzo Ferrari’s trademark accessory. I am of course talking about the dark sunglasses that he never took off, even when inside. He claimed that he wore them for medical reasons but I like to think that he realised that he was creating his own legend.

As I neared the exit of Alfredo Ferrari’s factory, I noticed that there was another display of cars and other memorabilia that had been sectioned off from the public. I wasn’t able to get a good look at it because a security officer ushered me away before I could take any photographs and told me that it would be viewable starting from tomorrow. Perhaps because the museum was free to visitors today, the Museo Casa Enzo Ferrari decided to keep some of its best displays under wraps.

No visit to any museum would be complete without a trip to the gift shop and the purchase of a souvenir. After browsing the selection of goods that were on offer, I picked up a yellow Museo Casa Enzo Ferrari T-shirt which had been made in limited numbers especially for the opening. Clutching my trophy, I walked back towards the yellow front gates and was immediately thankful that I had been one of the museum’s initial visitors and had not shown up later. The line stretched all the way down the driveway and did not look like it was moving particularly fast at all.

Overall I think that the Museo Casa Enzo Ferrari is extremely promising. The space is gorgeous and I’m sure that designer Jan Kaplický would be very proud of it had he lived to see this day. The cars that are currently on display are well worth seeing and I am sure that in the coming months, the museum’s collection will continue to expand. My only suggestion would be for the Museo Casa Enzo Ferrari to create some displays that visitors can interact with like they have in Maranello’s Museo Ferrari. That and to display more racing memorabilia that would add to the overall picture of the history of motorsport in Modena. Like I said above, however, I am sure that what I saw today is only a part of what the museum has to offer and that the best is yet to come.

I am, in fact, already aware of one exhibit that will draw me back to the museum’s gates in the near future. From May 8th to June 10th the Museo Casa Enzo Ferrari will be home to part of a giant exhibition dedicated to the late Gilles Villeneuve. The majority of the exhibition, which honours the great Canadian racer thirty years after his death, will be displayed at the Foro Boario exhibition centre in Modena. The historic Mille Miglia race will also pass through Modena during this time period and so look out for the Museo Casa Enzo Ferrari to honour its significance to the area in some way as well.

If today was any indication of the museum’s popularity, it will surely become a must-see venue for tifosi who visit the area. Maybe in the years to come I will be able to wear my yellow t-shirt with pride and retell the story of how I was the Museo Casa Enzo Ferrari’s fifth public visitor. After all, it isn’t every day that I get to have an experience like that!


  1. Superb piece of work Danielle!!

    When will u go back to Italy, miss all these quality stories which can only be reported from being in Italy

    Gota better than footy and penguins!!

  2. I miss the quality stories too, believe me. I'm not sure when I'll be back in Italy, it's not feasible at the moment but never fear, I can't seem to stay away for too long!