Italy: The fast and the fabulous

The life of Enzo Ferrari is celebrated in Modena, writes Sally Webb.

The city of Modena, in the Emilia-Romagna region of central Italy, has several famous sons. The late, great tenor Luciano Pavarotti is one and food-lovers would rate chef Massimo Bottura as well.

But pushed to name one, it's not difficult - Enzo Ferrari, creator of the fast red cars that remain a national icon.

Modena's city authorities have transformed the house in which he was born in 1898 into an impressive museum. The Museo Casa Enzo Ferrari joins the existing Museo Ferrari at the Ferrari plant in Maranello about 20 kilometres from Modena. The Museo Casa Enzo Ferrari concentrates on Enzo's life and the extraordinary history of the company and cars.

The house where Ferrari was born, which he later sold to buy his first car, and his father's former workshop are part of the museum, but the showpiece is the bright-yellow contemporary pavilion designed to resemble the engine shape of one of the famous F1 cars. This futuristic space houses dozens of racing cars, F1 and other categories, in an interactive exhibit rich with ephemera from the empire Enzo built.

Each of the cars on display has a video screen devoted to it, playing footage of races, highlighting successes and failures. There is also an interactive touch screen with technical information to delight motoring boffins.

The first exhibit, a 1956 Lancia Ferrari D50, comes from the personal collection of the late Gianni Agnelli, Italy's best-known industrialist, former head of Fiat and the richest man in modern Italian history.

This car was the only single-seat vehicle in F1 history to compete in different seasons with different team logos.

In the first section of the exhibition space there is also the 1957 Maserati 250F T2 driven by the Argentinian Juan Manuel Fangio in his final F1 season; a 1962 Porsche 804, a streamlined silver bullet of a car; the 1972 Ferrari 312 B2, which was driven by five drivers in 1972; and the 1975 Ferrari 312T, driven by a young Niki Lauda in the year Ferrari reclaimed the world title.

Newspaper ephemera, facsimiles of historic photos, and advertising images round out the displays and treat the cars like the artworks they are.

The most poignant exhibit is probably the 1994 Williams FW15D, in which Ayrton Senna competed in his 11th F1 season. It was the precursor vehicle to the FW16 he was driving at the San Marino Grand Prix when he crashed into a concrete barrier and lost his life.

The exhibits I viewed might not be there when you go; the museum intends to change the displays about twice a year. But the message won't change - Enzo Ferrari changed the face of motor racing and motoring globally, and 26 years after his death, can wear the mantle of Modena's famous son with pride.

The writer was a guest of Rail Europe and Swiss Tourism.

TRIP NOTES

GETTING THERE

Singapore Airlines has economy fares from Sydney to Milan (Malpensa) from $1966. See singaporeair.com. From Milan's Stazione Centrale it's a one-hour, 38-minute train ride to Modena. Tickets from $32. See raileurope.com.au.

STAYING THERE

Quartopiano Bed & Breakfast de Charme is in the centre of Modena, with views over the town's terracotta-tiled rooftops. Doubles from €130 ($190) a night.

Via Bonacorsa 27, 41121 Modena, see bbquartopiano.it.

TOURING THERE

Museo Casa Enzo Ferrari, via Paolo Ferrari 85, 41121 Modena, see museocasaenzoferrari.it/en/. Tickets €15/11 (adult/child). Combined tickets to both the Museo Ferrari Maranello and the Museo Casa Enzo Ferrari are €26/18.

MORE INFORMATION

emiliaromagnaturismo.com/en.

Comments