Sunday, May 8, 2011

Ferrari Museum and Giro l'Italia

We drove to Maranello near Modena to visit the Ferrari Museum. It was a somewhat frustrating hour long drive on the autostrada to Parma if one tries to honor the speed limit. The speed limit keeps jumping up and down as the road passes from tunnel to bridge to tunnel. It must be one of the most expensive stretches of road in the world as there seems to be almost no part of the road that is not either a bridge or a tunnel.

The GPS delivered us right to the museum after passing by the Ferrari factory. They have built some of the most beautiful factory buildings which they state are designed to be both energy efficient and to keep their workers happy. We parked the car with the help of two young ladies telling us it was a good spot and free. They then asked me if I wanted to drive a Ferrari. What kind of a question is that? Does the sun rise in the East and set in the West? We went with one of the girls to a building a bit down the block with six of the latest models of Ferraries sitting outside.

We went inside and they told us the prices to drive each of the cars and which could take a passenger as well as the co-driver. I decided that I would not have this opportunity again and it was on my 'bucket list' and Beth could ride along, and drive it if she wanted. We picked the Ferrari California. A red (of course) front-engined convertible that is supposed to be a 2+2. We set a time for 12:30 and went to see the museum.

The museum was disappointing as it was primarily a showcase of their Formula 1 and other racing successes in the past and there were not that many road cars. They did have models of the buildings and a movie in English of the history of the factory and the purpose behind the building designs.

We had a snack in the shade and waited for our drive time. I got in the driver's seat and Beth climbed into the back seat. The co-pilot got into the passenger seat and immediately rammed the seat back into Beth's knees. She voiced her discomfort and the co-pilot was very accommodating and moved his seat forward. He told me how to start the car and how the sequential transmission works. We slowly took off with the co-pilot telling me which way to go and how fast to go. He said there was no worry about the police or speed cameras on our route.

He gave me many opportunities to experience the rapid acceleration and accompanying beautiful sound of the Ferrari engine. We went around one round-a-bout three times waiting for the road to be free. The last time around he said, just go, we can pass the one car that went the way we were going. In this car passing, even in a very short space, it was not a problem and so much fun. The ride passed all too quickly. We got a DVD of the ride but I believe it is in the European TV mode. We will have to see if we can get it copied to NTSC mode.

As we were leaving in our car, we saw our co-pilot walking and Beth said lets ask him if he knows where we could find a wifi spot. He said yes in the cafe where he was going for lunch. We parked the car and joined him in the cafe. The wifi was free and I set off trying to see if I could attach picture to this blog. It seems there is no way within the Google blog software to add pictures when using an iPad. The help screens showed that we were not the only ones to experience the frustration and disappointment of this shortcoming. One user did provide a method of emailing pictures to the blog and then one could post them to the blog.

This actually worked, and we set about to follow this routine to update the blog. We ordered a pizza and received two as is the European way to each have their own pizza. Well, we would have a second meal as we would take half of each home. As I worked on the blog, Beth talked with our co-pilot, Franz Keizer, who said he had been a professional racing driver, starting with go carts when he was four. He said he had won the 24 hours of LeMans and at Sebring. He started the Ferrari drive experience business. They currently have 19 cars with the insurance for each costing 9,000 euros per month. He said they had only one accident but that one totaled a 4-day old 458 Italia. The co-pilot on that drive was in the hospital for a long time and the Brazillian driver went to a Italian jail until he could could come up with the money to pay for the car.

We left Maranello with the idea of stopping in Parma, which was the day's finish town for the Giro d'Italia. This is Italy's major bike racing tour. It is a 3-week race like the Tour de France but without the TV coverage outside of Italy, but it is a big deal in bicycle crazy Italy. We set the GPS and drove into the center of town just hoping we would luck into the spot where the races finished. We were lucky and actually found a free parking spot a few blocks from where we saw all the people gathering.

We got some pictures of the racers going by but could not tell what was really going on since we we were three-deep on the barriers. We spent some time around the booths of the vendors supporting the race and trying to see if we could find where the team cars and busses were parked. We did find one of the racers who we recognized, Mark Cavendish, who was being interviewed. We were able to get quite close even though there were many police but they didn't say a word to us.

We drove home and finished the pizza even though I overcooked it it the oven. I still do not understand. It has both electricity and gas, but it seems no way to actually light the gas. At least I did not blow up the house as I tried to figure out how to light the gas.

1 comment:

  1. What can I say - a car day, Beth gets her knees rammed and then you burn her pizza and try to blow up the house. On the other hand, Jim - you are quite a clever writer and I enjoy the funny stories!