Pursuits | Ciao, Enzo
Italy’s storied Motor Valley is best understood from the seat of a vintage roadster.
Any moment now we will fire up our engines and go tootling out of the medieval courtyard of Castello di Vigoleno in Northern Italy and down the road toward Modena. But first, a few words of advice from the locals: Don’t forget, they warn, that the cars we will be driving —a 1962 Alfa Romeo Giulietta roadster and a 1972 Fiat 124 Spider—are vintage machines. Keep the revs up to avoid stalling and watch out for tractors and trucks loaded with farm produce on the back roads and in the villages. But otherwise, “don’t worry about the speed limits—you can drive 30 kilometers per hour over the posted speed limit without getting a ticket,” says Luigi Orlandini of Canossa Events, which provided the wheels for the trip, as he hands me the keys to the Fiat. “This is Italy.”
More precisely, it is Emilia-Romagna, a 13,950-square-mile pastoral swath between the Po River to the north and the Apennine Mountains to the south, a region better known to some as the Motor Valley. Less trodden by the tourist masses than Rome, Tuscany, or Venice, the region is irresistible for aficionados of high-priced, exotic cars. This is, after all, the birthplace of the automotive visionary Enzo Ferrari and home to factories building Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Maseratis, and the $3 million Pagani supercar—not to mention more than a score of car museums, the Ducati Museum, and the National Motorcycle Museum. As befits Il Commendatore, as Signor Ferrari was widely known, there are not one but two museums dedicated to the man and the machine; one, in Maranello, exhibits some 40 different models of Ferrari, while a second, the Museo Enzo Ferrari in Modena, celebrates the legendary carmaker’s life.
“Since the days of the Roman chariots, the world’s finest vehicles have come from Emilia-Romagna,” our guide, Marco Montemaggi, boasts. “And the world’s most exciting automobile races have taken place on our roads.”
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