Taking it Home - Maranello
When we rolled into Maranello we weren't surprised to find just how much of the town is dominated by Ferrari. Although it's quite an industrial town (as is neighbouring Sassuolo) much of what a visitor is likely to see will be the area close to the factory. The factory is large, combining new and old buildings, most notably the old factory entrance as seen in the header photo for this page. In the vicinity there are lots of shops, most selling Ferrari goods and it seems the whole place is a mass of branded or semi-branded buildings and flags. We had a restaurant booked for tonight and a factory tour booked for the following morning so the first thing we needed to do was book into our hotel, easy right?
When planning the trip we'd heard and read good reviews of the Planet Hotel which is directly opposite the factory entrance and we'd also had a recommendation for the Maranello Palace from the staff at our local Ferrari main dealer in Egham, with whom we'd booked our tour. When the time came to book we chose neither however, not because we weren't impressed but simply because we found another very local hotel that appeared to offer what we wanted – good parking and everything within walking distance. We found it easily, parked up and unloaded our gear into the bar area as we couldn't find reception. One thing we did find however was a man with a leaf blower making a deafening noise inside the conservatory area next to us. After discovering Mr Noisy, we eventually (and I mean properly pissed off eventually) managed to get the attention of a guy behind the bar who seemed to be spending his shift sitting drinking with some young local guys. Trying to explain/shout we were guests was met with a vacant look but before long he realised it might be a good idea to phone someone for advice. Upon realising his phone was dead he found one to borrow from a mate and called someone 'in the know'. Meanwhile, our stern looks and the fact we were trying to hold a conversation did nothing to deter leaf man from the task of trying to blow down the hotel from within.
The answer from the phone seemed to indicate we had to use their sister hotel (I wont name either here, you'll have to ask me) and whilst he tried to give us directions telling us to 'go to other hotel, go to other hotel', we did exactly that and went to another hotel. We phoned booking.com, cancelled our room and drove straight to the Maranello Palace.
We discovered Maranello has its fair share (lots) of mosquitoes whilst unloading the car at our new hotel but fortunately still had our bug spray from Lake Como. We liked the Maranello Palace, we got a good room, they have good parking and the factory and other stuff was still within walking range. It's also next to the island with the prancing horse sculpture - the ‘Monumento al Cavallino Rampante'.
In the evening, we walked a mile to the Montana restaurant, passing the Fiorano circuit on the way. We'd booked a month or so in advance via their website as we'd heard it can be busy, such is its reputation for food, decor and clientele. The restaurant has a large array of Ferrari and Formula One memorabilia adorning the walls, along with signed napkins from racing drivers, actors and pretty much anyone famous you can think of as they've all eaten here!
We can vouch for the food which was excellent and the atmosphere was great, a real treat. We were in town just before the Italian Grand Prix at Monza so realised the chances of seeing members of the Ferrari team were very slim. We did have a well-known fellow diner though, none other than former Toro Rosso F1 driver and current Ferrari tester Jean-Eric Vergne.
A lovely evening and if you're coming to Maranello, be sure to book a table beforehand.
Our Factory Tour
In the morning, we grabbed breakfast at the hotel and wandered over to the factory. There were several tours setting out so we were arranged into small groups, met our guides and got on the little bus that'd deliver us to various locations. The 'anybody' tour takes a bus around the works and across to the Fiorano circuit but doesn't go inside the factory. The 'owners' tour - booked through a Ferrari dealer is different in that the bus will drop you off and pick you up at various points, with the guides taking you around different parts of the factory.
Sadly, Ferrari don't allow photographs inside the buildings and that's a real shame as we thought it was great! Fully climate controlled, light and airy with areas planted with trees and Ferrari cycles provided for the employees to get around. We were taken around the engine manufacturing plant which was fascinating before heading across to the V8 production line to see the new 488 and the limited-run 458 Speciale Aperta being assembled. Our little bus also took us across to the Fiorano circuit and the complex that is home to the Corse Clienti and XX racing cars. I wont go into detail concerning what that means so if you don't know, just think - Ferrari-backed customer racing cars = lots of £2. From there it was into the new and very impressive Formula One building, which houses the entire Formula One team: both engine and chassis divisions and associated personnel. It was quiet in there though, they were all at Monza. One thing I didn't realise - the factory has its own on-site foundry, producing the vast majority of the car components in-house. I found various nice movies on YouTube which will show you in and around the factory. Well worth having a look.
Parking at the factory: As a sidenote to anyone travelling to the factory in their Ferrari, the parking inside is quite limited. I've heard that some owners park at the museum, just a short walk away. Apparently, if you ask at the desk, the staff will be more than happy for you to do so. I can't offer a guarantee though, so do ask!
The Ferrari factory, Formula One HQ and a LaFerrari being road-tested
Once we'd finished the tour, we headed over to the Ferrari Store. We got a little gift package including the most recent year book and a 20% discount voucher for the store (make sure you use that on the day of your tour though, as we almost found out the hard way. The staff must assign names to a specific tour date). We were also given entry tickets for the Maranello museum so make sure you don't do that first and pay for it! From here and the other local shops, Sarah managed to add two more bags and a T-shirt to the pile of things that would have to be squeezed into the car the following day. I bought a woolly hat, a really good call as it turned out as in a few days time, we'd be stood on the top of a rather large, icy mountain.
It was lunch time so we wandered to the famous Cavallino restaurant, directly opposite the old factory entrance and the place Enzo Ferrari used to eat his lunch. Like the Montana we'd booked well in advance via their website (do this) and it's very similar in décor, a wealth of Ferrari and racing memorabilia everywhere we looked. It's a car nut's dream and after eating, you'll likely spend a while checking out every available corner of the building. Before we set out on the trip, a lady at the Ferrari dealership in Egham had told me to order the fillet steak with balsamic dressing – good call, stonking! We had a lovely lunch, a glass or two of wine and walked the short distance to the museum, covered in more detail on this separate page.
We finally found a decent car wash in the evening and even though the token machine robbed some of our Euros, the combination of soap, hot water and high pressure successfully de-stickied the car. It's not the easiest place to find, but if you fancy a mid-trip wash, it's on Via Tazio Nuvolari, just a couple of streets north of the factory.