Emilia Romagna, Italy
The Emilia-Romagna region, located in northeastern Italy, is famous for many things.
Cuisine flourishes in Emilia-Romagna as cities including Reggio Emilia (Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese), Parma (Prosciutto di Parma) and Modena (balsamic vinegar) have helped put Italian cuisine on the global map with delicious food made with centuries-old traditions and recipes.
Education is also important in Emilia-Romagna, whose capital city Bologna houses the world's oldest university, the University of Bologna, which was founded in 1088 and consistently ranks among Italy's best universities to this day.
While the finer things of food and education are vibrantly celebrated in Emilia-Romagna, the region is also famous for something a little more adventurous…
We're talking some of the world's greatest motor vehicles here, folks, as companies including Ducati, Lamborghini, Ferrari, and Maserati call Emilia-Romagna home.
This density of automobile production has earned Emilia-Romagna the moniker of Italy's “Motor Valley”, and last month I was lucky enough to partner with the region for a 3-day tour throughout this lovely province of Italy.
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Motor Valley Itinerary
If you also have the need for speed, keep reading for a fantastic 3-day itinerary through Italy's Motor Valley!
Day 1: Ducati & Lamborghini
Lying on the outskirts of Bologna, Emilia-Romagna's capital, is the factory and museum of Ducati, manufacturer of the sleekest and speediest motorcycles anywhere on the planet.
The Ducati production headquarters features a museum that is closed Wednesday and open from 9 until 6 every other day.
Entry is 17 euros per person (or 15 euros per person for groups numbering 10 or more), and guests can learn about Ducati's rich history by exploring a gorgeous showroom featuring scores of Ducati motorcycles from throughout the company's 90-year tenure.
The true highlight of visiting Ducati, however, lies in the guided factory tour.
Offered at 10:15 and 3:00 every weekday except Wednesday, the guided factory tours (which cost 32 euros per person or 28 euros per person at the group rate) feature a comprehensive walk-through of the Ducati production lines.
No cameras or cellphones are allowed inside the factory, but the positive side of this is a chance to revel in a manufacturing marvel that, during Ducati's busy season, produces as many as 350 to 400 motorcycles per day!
Roughly 40 minutes northwest of Bologna in the small town of Sant'Agata Bolognese lies the Museo Lamborghini, a standing testament to one of the planet's most exotic and expensive automobile companies.
Open weekdays from 9:30 to 6 (or 7, if visiting between April and October), the Lamborghini Museum offers museum entry and a guided tour for 75 euros per person.
Like Ducati, Lamborghini does not allow cameras or cell phones for the factory tour, but the experience is so unique and incredible that I doubt you'll have a tough time forgetting it, even without the photographic proof you were there!
Lamborghini's very polished tour guides will walk you through the engine, chassis, and interior design lines for each automobile model – giving you the opportunity to see the literal nuts and bolts of cars that can easily start at $175,000 per model.
From there, you can check out the Lamborghini Museum proper which features a journey through Lamborghini's historical models on the lower level.
The upper level features a dazzling array of current Lamborghini models along with the museum's indisputable highlight: a real Lamborghini simulator where you can try your hand (and foot!) at paddle-clutching, downshifting, braking, and much more!
Book a guided tour of Lamborghini here.
Where to Stay in Bologna
Day 2: Ferrari
Moving to Modena for Day 2, it's all about the granddaddy of them all.
The most famous name anywhere in luxury cars or motor sport, Ferrari is well worth an entire day's devotion on your tour through Italy's Motor Valley.
Spend the morning checking out the Museo Enzo Ferrari, housed in the former workshop of Enzo Ferrari's father.
Tickets are just 16 euros, and the museum is open daily from 9:30 until 6 (or 7 if visiting between April and October).
The museum features two main showrooms that showcase Ferrari's models across its luxury sports car and racing (primarily Formula 1, wherein Ferrari is the most decorated Constructor of all time!) divisions.
The museum also houses a Ferrari shop, where, amid the dazzling red and white, you can find tons of Ferrari swag to decorate your (or your friends' and family's!) wardrobe!
After spending all that time looking at Ferrari cars, you'll probably find yourself wondering what driving in one would actually be like, right?
Ferrari Racing Track
Well, just a short distance away from Museo Enzo Ferrari lies the Autodromo di Modena, a racing circuit whose operators offer unbelievable experiences featuring the Ferrari 458 Challenge, a vehicle specifically designed for racing.
While packages involving laps around the circuit (as either passenger or driver) are pretty expensive (starting in the hundreds of euros), the experience – for those lucky enough – is one filled with speed, adrenaline, and unforgettable memories!
Where to Stay in Modena
Day 3: Maserati
During your last day in Italy's Motor Valley, spend the day checking out the Emilia-Romagna region's incredible collection of Maserati cars, distinguished by the company's instantly recognizable trident logo!
Our journey through Maserati's luxury sports cars starts, however, with an Italian entrepreneur named Umberto Panini.
And, if you've never heard of Umberto Panini, odds are you've probably touched his work.
That's because Mr. Panini was the inventor of the famous sticker books that brightened the imaginations of millions of children worldwide!
Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese Factory
Having made his fortune in Venezuela, Panini returned to Italy and started Hombre Farm, an estate featuring hundreds of cows producing – you guessed it – authentic Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.
Fearing that Maserati, which was going through financial turmoil in the late 20th-century, would lose a significant amount of its collection to international auction, Panini stepped in and basically said, You know what, I've got so much money from these stickers, why don't I buy all these cars myself and keep them in Italy!
Maserati Car Collection
What that means for visitors today is an incredible opportunity to, right alongside hundreds of cows and thousands of Parmigiano-Reggiano wheels, see dozens of Maserati models, from race cars used by the great British driver Stirling Moss to recent luxury vehicles!
Tours of Hombre are available on weekdays from 9 to 12 and 3 to 5, and again on Saturdays from 9 to 12.
And, remarkably, this entire experience is available with tickets starting at just 5 euros!
Spend one last night in Modena before flying out from Bologna regional airport.
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