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Italy for car lovers:

an itinerary that includes automakers and museums

Adriana Marmo

Andrea Giovanelli, LaPresse, Eros Maggi, Julia Rodrigues, Francesco Ricca Lacomino, Getty Images, Publicity

Four super automakers that produce the most highly coveted machines on Earth are located in the Italian region of Emilia-Romagna, a land of incredible scenery and flavors

 

La rossa

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The peace and quiet in Maranello, 117 miles [188 km] from Milan, Italy, is only disrupted by the unmistakable rumble of the cars. Still wrapped in protective plastic covering, they leave the Ferrari factory to be tested on the streets. The roaring engines are part of the daily routine and a source of pride among the city’s 15,000 inhabitants, and also warm the hearts of tourists passionate about sports cars. To learn the history of the brand with the little horse symbol, born in 1947, head for the Museo Ferrari. The company’s trajectory is recounted in detail through the most significant models built there. A replica of their first car, the 125 S, is there to welcome visitors. There’s a room dedicated to Formula 1 and its drivers – there’s a plaza named for Michael Schumacher, well deserving of the honor. At Piazza Libertà, Dolce Crema offers some of the best ice cream in the region and provides a privileged locale from which to view the circulation of Ferraris. If you want to learn more about cars and see the origin of balsamic vinegar, go to the farm known as La Duchessa. The husband and wife team of Ivano and Titiana run an artisanal factory and tell a number of stories about the days of Enzo Ferrari.

 

Olé, Lambo!

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Less than 22 miles [35 km] separate Maranello from Sant’Agata Bolognese. It was there that Ferruccio Lamborghini set up the company that carries his name and produces the famed sports cars. A rift between Ferruccio and Enzo Ferrari gave way to the brand’s origin. Mr. Lamborghini had a Ferrari, but he was forever lamenting a defect in the clutch system. When he complained of the problem to Enzo himself, the answer he got was hard to swallow: “You’re a farmer, keep driving your tractors and leave the cars to me.” Irritated, Ferruccio decided to build some automobiles of his own with perfect clutches. The ending is well known, but the details of the story, as well as some of the most beautiful cars ever manufactured, can be found at the Museo Lamborghini, which opened in 2011. There are a number of treasures stored  there, including the first car created by the company, the 350 GT, in 1964, and, with an appointment, you can see the amazing assembly process, which is entirely artisanal. It includes the space where the seats and upholstery for the car interiors are cut and sewn. Close to the city, in Ravarino, stands Il Grano di Pepe, the restaurant which critics point to as the most promising for Italian cuisine. There, Sicilian chef Rino Duca displays his homeland’s qualities in the recipes.

 

The kingdom of Ducatis

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Famous for its reddish buildings and a historic city center filled with quaint porticos, Bologna is the main city in the region. But for any speed demon, the city has another attraction: the Ducati factory, which produces the most admired motorcycles in the world. Their museum is one of the most thorough, didactic and fun in the region. The history of the brand didn’t start on two wheels, it evolved along with Italy itself. Parts for radios used during World War I, the first electric shaver and the cucciolo, the engine that’s attached to bicycles that gave way to the motorcycle, are some of the items on display. Not to mention the many, many Ducatis. On a visit to the workshop, it’s possible to see everything down to the engine tuner. That’s right, a professional regulates, or better yet, tunes the engine until reaching the characteristic sound. Yet another attraction is getting to observe the factory parking lot, which gets packed with Monsters and Diavels driven by employees (they’re also passionate about the engines they build) in the summer. Nearby the city, in Monte San Pietro, is Cantina Bonzara, the perfect place to get to know the wines produced from pignoletto, the grape variety from the region. In addition to the tasting, visit the cantina and the plantations. The best thing is to get there in the late afternoon to see the sun set on the grapevines.

 

Home of the trident

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Two big museums are located in Modena. Maserati is the only Romagnol automaker that doesn’t have its own memorial, but visitors can learn about its past at the Collezione Umberto Panini, which contains the largest private car collection in the home of the trident. There, in addition to such models as the rare A6GCS Berlinetta Pininfarina and 23 others that figure among the brand’s most important, you can also see blueprints, like that of the Maserati Barchetta. The second is the Museo Enzo Ferrari, installed in the house where he lived and which preserves his original workshop. Modena also holds other pleasant surprises. Aside from having one of the most enchanting historic centers in the region, all it takes is a look at the happy elderly residents circulating among the cafés to see it’s a good place to live. Chef Massimo Bottura agrees. His Osteria Francescana, which has three stars from the prestigious Michelin Guide, is an obligatory visit. Make your reservations months in advance, or else try Bottura’s food at Franceschetta 58, which serves contemporary cuisine prepared with the most traditional ingredients in this part of Italy. If you have time, you can accompany the entire process at Azienda Hombre, from the milking to the maturation of the area’s specialty: Parmesan, known among locals as the king of cheeses.

 

A french adventure

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The French are also proud of their automobiles. Proof of this can be seen at the Musée Peugeot, located 310 miles [500 km] from Paris, in Sochaux – which is also home to the biggest factory emblazoned with the lion crest. It’s known as “The Peugeot Adventure,” after all, its biography stretches back 130 years, farther back than actual cars. Back then, they produced bicycles, home appliances and even coins. But what is most amazing are the well-preserved rarities, including the Type 1, a steam-powered tricycle from 1891, considered the first car in the history of Peugeot automobiles; and the Type 2 1892, the family’s eldest with a gas-powered engine. For racing fans, the competition wing features rally cars, automobiles designed for long-duration competitions, and even a 1994 McLaren.

 

LATAM has direct flights to Milan departing from São Paulo.