The Middle of Modena, Masserati, and More


Pagani_Race_CarHow could we top a visit to Ferrari? 

800px-Drawed_Pagani_ZondaPaganiDay two and we found ourselves in the middle of a small industrial park outside Modena visiting the most exclusive car maker – Pagani. Argentine by birth, Horatio Pagani has been interested in Italian cars since a boy, designing small models at the age of 10. Having worked for various big names in the field he founded his own company in the 90s and presented the Zonda in 1999. Since then he has produced a mere 130 cars, each one is beautifully crafted with love and care, using unique materials created by himself. From the small showroom showing the Zonda cinque (meaning 5 – as only 5 were produced) we were taken into the atelier and saw the small workforce paying meticulous attention to every detail. Pagani claims that Leonardo da Vinci was his inspiration and he admires the Renaissance attitude to fine art.

maserati_logo This afternoon we visited the Maserati factory. Here we were back to a production line with about 20 minutes for each station before the car moves on to the next stage. Maserati produces about 21 cars a day. The workers were much more laid back than Ferrari and the whole operation was much less slick than Ferrari. Our group enjoyed watching a team of inspectors deal with a misaliged door. They appreciated the checks and controls taken to ensure that the final model leaves the factory floor in perfect condition.


Tomorrow we’ll visit some car collections before moving onto Turin to the great designers of these elegant machines.


Smithsonian Journey’s Italian Auto tour just gets better and is filled with some magical ‘ah’ moments.

ModenaSaturday we were still in Modena and visited several private car collections. In the late afternoon we drove past the Lamborghini factory – it was swarming with people for the 50th anniversary celebrations – our group understood why were not visiting till later this week. That evening we toured the Lamborghini Family museum and the owner and nephew to the founder, Fabio Lamborghini came and signed souvenirs for the group and had his photo taken with various members. His part of the show concluded with him roaring off in his own Lambo (that’s the lingo!)

1From Modena we headed across northern Italy to Turin. It was a gorgeously clear day and a lovely drive with the snowcapped alps welcoming us into Piedmont. We even had two Lambos lined up at our brief restroom stop. Perfect planning! Our first stop in Turin was at the Lingotto. After lunching on delicious Italian treats in the Eataly Food Emporium we went onto the top of the Lingotto building (originally the FIAT factory) and stood on the roof top test track. Spectacular weather and clear views across the city to the mountains. We had a very thorough tour of the car collection at the Museo Nazionale dell’Automobile. And our final visit was at the FIAT Centro Storico – the original FIAT headquarters, with a lovely art deco facade and inside a great collection of old cars including some of the iconic 500 and wonderful photos and posters.

BertoneAnd as if we hadn’t had enough cars today – the Spanish Grand Prix took place today. We had a private room set up to show the replay at 9 pm. Not quite all of our group made it to the end, but many did.

Designer Tom TjaardaMonday morning – design day. Another beautiful sunny day as we drove north out of Turin. Stile Bertone has been designing cars for all the luxury brands for just over 100 years and that is where we were headed today. We were greeted by the head of design. He gave a wonderful tour of the Bertone museum full of passion about what makes a great piece of design. Then out in the garden there were two prototypes that the group all drooled over as he opened it up and showed all the different features. It was hard to drag the group away from this fantastic tour but it was also in the most idyllic setting – parkland, surrounded by trees, very tranquil on a sunny day. From this very small friendly designer we visited Pininfarina – a very slick large design corporation. After a fascinating presentation we viewed a couple of prototype Ferraris. I confess I can’t keep up with the different models and features – needless to say my group might be forgetful about a logistical tour detail but they know which car they saw and where! We returned to Turin in the afternoon and visited with a charming American designer, who has lived in Turin most of his life. He has designed for many of the great names and gave us a very personal talk about his design experience.