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The City

Modena is a city and municipality in the Province of Modena in the Emilia-Romagna region of northern Italy. The city stands on the southern side of the Po Valley. The exact date of the settlements founding is unknown, although its history can be traced back to the times of the Etruscans and the times of the Romans. An ancient town, and seat of an archbishop, it is best known today for its automotive industry, in particular high-performance cars. Modena is (or has been) the site of the factories of Ferrari, De Tomaso, Lamborghini, Pagani and Maserati. All of them, except Lamborghini, have headquarters in or around the city.

As well as the automotive factories, there are several other places of note here.  The city’s university dates back to 1175 and was expanded in 1686. Italian military officers are trained at the Military Academy of Modena, whilst the Biblioteca Estense houses historical volumes and 3,000 manuscripts. The Cathedral of Modena, the Torre della Ghirlandina and Piazza Grande have been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997. Famous people from Modena include operatic tenor Luciano Pavarotti and, naturally, Enzo Ferrari. Modena is also home to the restaurant Osteria Francescana. Owned and run by chef Massimo Bottura, at the time of the visit in 2018, it had been named as the best restaurant in the world in a list of The World's 50 Best Restaurants (produced by UK media company William Reed Business Media and based on a poll of international chefs, restaurateurs, gourmands and restaurant critics). The photographs in the thumbnail gallery below were taken during a walk around the city. This is followed by (largely photographic) sections on Lamborghini, Ferrari, Maserati... and one more (non-automotive) manufacturer based in the city and perhaps not one it is well-known for (click on an image to enlarge):


First off was a visit to the Lamborghini museum in Sant'Agata Bolognese. The first thing that became apparent on arrival was the number of these rather expensive cars driving around – on the road, in a local shop car park and even one (perhaps to the horror of car enthusiasts) was spotted being put through an automatic car wash. At the site of the museum is the factory, which produces luxury sports cars and SUV’s. They also manufacture tractors (at Lamborghini Trattori in nearby Pieve di Cento). Ferruccio Lamborghini, an Italian manufacturing magnate, founded Automobili Ferruccio Lamborghini S.p.A. in 1963 to compete with established brands such as Ferrari. Today, the company is owned by the Volkswagen Group through its subsidiary Audi. The museum documents the company’s beginnings and early successes, key models from then to now, racing cars (including Formula 1), the main stages of technological development, the engines and the (new) Lamborghini Urus (an SUV). A section of the museum “Film Emotions” shows some vehicles which have been used in movies. Photos below (click on an image to enlarge):


The “Ferrari Experience” in and around the Modena area was a bit of a two-stop affair. First off (where most of the time was spent) was a visit to the Museo Casa Enzo Ferrari (also known as Museo Enzo Ferrari) in Modena. The museum contains detailed exhibitions and a language-less presentation video focussing on the life and work of Enzo Ferrari, the founder of the Ferrari sports car marque. There are two separate buildings, a former house and workshop that belonged to Enzo Ferrari's father and displays, amongst other things, engines, and a new architect-designed building containing a large gallery with the main exhibitions, some of the most noteworthy Ferrari cars and a wall on which the video is screened. At the time of the visit, there was an annual meeting of owners of Ferrari Dino cars whom had driven here from several different countries (including the UK). Dino was a marque for mid-engined, rear-drive sports cars produced by Ferrari from 1968 to 1976 and hence the large number of them parked up outside as seen in the photographs below.

The second stop was to look at the Museo Ferrari, although the author of this webpage was pressed for time. Located right near the Ferrari factory in Ferrari's home town of Maranello, near Modena, Museo Ferrari (previously known as Galleria Ferrari) first opened in 1990. Dedicated to the Ferrari sports car marquee and run by the company, it houses a collection of road and track cars, trophies, photographs and other historical objects relating to the Italian motor racing industry, as well as technical displays. Photos below (click on an image to enlarge):


The final car-related site visited on this trip to Modena was the Maserati factory and showroom. Maserati was founded in Bologna by Alfieri Maserati in 1914 and established as a mechanical workshop named ‘Officine Alfieri Maserati’. In 1926, the workshop was transformed from modifying or developing the vehicles of other companies, into a company designing, building and selling its own. The company has a long history of appeal, tradition and sporting success. Photos below (click on an image to enlarge):


And now for something completely different... Modena is also home to another factory, namely that of the Panini Group. Headquartered in Modena, the Panini company was named after the Panini brothers who founded it in 1961. Probably best known for their collectible sticker albums (e.g.  FIFA World Cup, National  Football Leagues, Smurfs), the company also produces books, comics, magazines, trading cards and other items through its collectibles and publishing subsidiaries. The site looks quite modest from the outside, although distributes its own products, and products of third party providers. Panini maintains a Licensing Division to buy and resell licences and provide agency for individuals and newspapers seeking to purchase rights and comic licences. Their Digital arm uses voice-activated software to capture football statistics which are then sold on to other organisations. On ringing the doorbell, it was possible to enter the building and visit a small shop-cum-busy office area. Some of the current stock was for sale, although whilst it was not possible to take photographs (for reasons of corporate security), what was interesting was to see racks containing small pigeon-box like sections, each numbered and containing stocks of the latest sticker album collections - ready to assist with sending off bespoke packages to individuals requesting those all-important missing stickers from their latest collection.


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