Emilia-Romagna’ s Motor Valley is a real treasure trove for classic cars lovers. Here’s a list of the places you cannot miss if you’re planning a trip to our region, ranging from museums and international circuits to racetracks and private collections.
The Motor Valley Museums
They are the highlight of the Motor Valley. Managed directly by the car manufacturers such as Ferrari, Lamborghini, Pagani and Ducati, the region’s official museums collect almost the entire industrial production of the various car and motorbike manufacturers.
The two Ferrari Museums – the Maranello Museum and the Enzo Ferrari Museum in Modena – are a journey through the history, models and trophies of the Prancing Horse, while the Lamborghini Museums – the Lamborghini Museum in Sant’Agata Bolognese and the Ferruccio Lamborghini Museum in Funo di Argelato – preserve the historical memory and creations of the founder of the famous Bolognese company.
It’s the motorcycles that take centre stage in the new Ducati Museum. Here you will find a full collection of motorbike models and trophies of the Borgo Panigale company, together with videos, memorabilia as well as the riders’ suits. The museum offers a journey in the history of the Ducati, and a deep-dive in the technical developments that have made this motorbike manufacturer great and successful over time.
Last but not least is the Pagani showroom, a space set up directly in the factory premises in San Cesario sul Panaro, where you can retrace the history of the cars created by Horacio Pagani and his mechanics.
The Motor Valley Racetracks
One cannot talk about historic cars without mentioning the circuits of Emilia Romagna, the temples of motor racing. Tosa, Acque Minerali, curve of the Quercia: these terms are well-known among enthusiasts, as they describe places of both great deeds and big mistakes where racing history was nevertheless made.
The first circuit to be built was the Modena Autodrome which, like many racetracks of the time (e.g. Silverstone), was constructed over a former airfield. It was one of the first test circuits in the whole Emilia-Romagna, and at the time it was so crowded with requests that it was never available for more than a few days.
Because of the difficulty of reserving the track at the Modena Autodrome and the forced coexistence with the airport, engineer Enzo Ferrari decided to build his own racetrack, entirely dedicated to his cars. This led to the construction of the Fiorano Circuit in 1972, which from that moment on would go down in history as the test track for all Ferrari models.
The second circuit to be built was the historic Imola Circuit, inaugurated on 25 April 1953. Created by joining the hilly roads south of Imola, this track is a piece of motor racing and Formula 1 history.
Designed with the help of Enzo Ferrari and titled in 1970 to the son Dino, Imola has hosted official races of the Formula 1 World Championship since 1980. In 1989, the circuit became sadly famous for the fire of Gerhard Berger’s car and in 1994 for a series of accidents that caused the death of the champions Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenberger.
Today the Imola circuit hosts the World Superbike Championship and a calendar of events dedicated to vintage cars. After a long break, the Imola circuit has recently resumed hosting the Formula 1 GP too.
Let’s now head for Santa Monica to the world-famous Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli, the temple of Italian motorcycling. This is considered as Valentino Rossi’s home circuit and is located in the middle of the so-called ‘Riders Land’.
Designed and built under the supervision of engineer Enzo Ferrari, the Misano Circuit was inaugurated in 1972 and has been used mainly for motorbike racing ever since. To this day, the circuit is one of the stages of the MotoGP World Championship and the SuperBike World Championship. Although it is home to many riders from Romagna, the circuit record belongs to Daniel Pedrosa, who stopped the hands at 1′ 32” and 979” in 2016.
The Riccardo Paletti Autodrome in Varano de Melegari was named after the Milanese Formula 1 driver of the same name who died in 1982 during the Canadian Grand Prix. Inside the circuit is the Ickx bend, so called because of the Belgian champion and Ferrari driver who in 1970 found himself clumsily in the sand right in this place.
The Historic Races
So far we have explored the museums and circuits of Emilia-Romagna. Let’s have a look now at the race tracks where can you drive these vintage cars.
If driving vintage cars is your passion, then you cannot miss the legendary Vernasca Silver Flag. Founded in 1953 as a minor round of the provincial championship, the Vernasca Silver Flag consists of a difficult and varied route on provincial roads (it is half flat and half uphill with some really demanding bends and hairpin bends). The forerunner of today’s rally races, it has seen the participation of car manufacturers such as Alfa Romeo, Lotus and Porsche and has always been one of the most popular car races of its kind.
Among other races for classic car enthusiasts, we cannot fail to mention the Gran Premio Terre di Canossa, a race with more than 75 time trials involving cars built between 1919 and 1976. What makes the GP Terre di Canossa truly unique is the atmosphere during the race and the landscapes surrounding its route.
Today’s route starts from the Emilian plain and runs through the ancient possessions of the Canossa family, descending into Tuscany and crossing the finish line in the beautiful Ligurian Cinque Terre.
The Private Collections
Emilia-Romagna’s Motor Valley gathers important private collections of vintage cars and motorbikes that are definitely worth a visit. The result of the passion of individual owners, these collections represent a veritable treasure saved from the passage of time.
Among these is the Umberto Panini Collection in Modena, which includes the official collection of the Maserati car manufacturer. In addition to the cars, visitors can also admire around thirty vintage motorbikes, most of which were produced in Emilia Romagna.
Other collections include the Rimini Motorcycle Museum, the result of the union of three different private collections. The museum displays some 250 motorbikes of 55 different makes, with examples ranging from the late 19th century to Bimota prototypes.
You can read more about the private collections in Emilia-Romagna on the Motor Valley website, which includes more than 20 different private museums.
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