Tuesday, November 6, 2012

A Day for the Boys; Modena, Italy and the Ferrari Showroom

Now you didn’t think we could go to Italy with a teenaged boy and a man (who rather thinks he’s a boy) and not spend a day looking at cars.  Italy, after all, is known for its cars.  

Now me?  I’m not a car person. I’d like a contraption that reliably gets me to and fro, keeps me dry and, ideally, doesn't use too much gas.  Beyond that I could care less; much to my boys' consternation I can’t tell a Porche from a Hyundai. 

So I did not plan for a factory tour or showroom visit.  But we had some open days while in Tuscany and the Boy figured out that the Ferrari Factory was a mere two hours away.  

I had housed our family on goat farm with an attached knitting shop -- pure Mama nirvana.  As such I could hardly deny the boys their automotive pleasure.  After cappuccino and croissants we ventured forth. 

The factory was near Modena which is a balsamic vinegar and olive oil hub.  I’m told it's a beautiful city.  Unfortunately we didn’t get to experience that beauty as the city was completely smogged in.  

Oh how my heart was broken to learn that Italy (particularly Northern Italy) had a smog problem.  In my mind this is the country of slow food, cold pressed oils, carefully cured meats and aged wines.  And Italy is all those things.  But it is also a country of people and cars;  people + cars = smog.  

My "Italy as a perfect country" bubble was burst.  Of course I already knew Italy wasn't perfect but this smog issue really saddened me.  One thing is for sure -- I have no interest in living in the smog. 

Anyway, we made it to Modena but missed our exit to Maranello which is where the factory resides.  It was lunch time, we were hungry and subsequently grumpy.  After some consternation we found our way to the factory.  

Outside the factory we were approached by an attractive woman decked out in Ferrari gear.  She offered to let the Mister drive a Ferrari -- a mere 60 euros for 10 minutes.  You could see his wheels turning.  Could I? Should I?  Finally he declined (thank goodness) and we went to tour the showroom.  

The showroom had a family discount. The normal entry price would’ve been 9 euros per person (for our family of five).  However the showroom was under construction thus the price was further discounted to 7 euros a person. 

The lady at the desk told us our discount was because “we would find some confusion.”  Both the Mister and I looked at each other and were thinking the same thing ... discounts for confusion?  Nobody told us there were discounts for confusion?!! We are owed some money (hello Vatican I'm talking to you).  

In addition to touring the showroom you can take a bus out the entrance of the car track and the bus shows you the front of the Ferrari factory.  But you don’t get to go inside either the track or the factory.  We didn’t do this part of the tour as it didn’t sound worth the 9 euro per person price tag.  Now a tour of the actual factory?  That would’ve been more interesting.  Alas they didn’t offer that option.  

There was a small cafe just before entering the exhibits.  Hungry as we were we indulged in cappuccinos and pastries thinking we’d have lunch later.  Not the smartest of plans.  Turns out it would be quite a while before we ate again ... 

The showroom was, well, a showroom full of cars; both old and new.  If you are car fanatic you are going to hate my description; the cars were neat.  And after fifteen or twenty minutes the girls and I were ready to go.  We retired back to the cafe to wait for the boys who were still oogling.  

When the boys finally emerged from the showroom I queried them -- was it worth it?  They enjoyed the tour but admitted that, perhaps, it wasn't worth the two hour drive, especially since Modena was a disappointment.

Tour complete we decided to head home and find someplace to eat.  We had a little Osteria in mind that Papa and I had eaten at five years ago.  It was on the way home and sounded just right.  

Of course we got turned around on the freeway and, once again, took the wrong exit (I’d like to think this is mostly because Papa was driving -- the one day Mama drove we didn’t get lost.  But, hey, I guess we’ll never know).  

We got off the freeway and tried to get our bearings.  We turned a corner and bam -- there it was.  The restaurant.  This was a place that Mama and Papa really liked. Papa had carried their business card in his wallet ever since we ate there -- it was that good. We were hoping it was still that good. 

We were quite happy and relieved to have found the place and all piled out of the car only to find it closed.  Closed, that is, until 7:30 pm.  That’s Italy for you -- they eat late.  Lunch from 1 to 4 pm.  Dinner from 7 to 10 pm.  

Of course we American’s, who’d stupidly skipped lunch, were ready to eat at 5:30 pm.  Dagnamit!

We elected to drive through the countryside until places opened up.  The countryside was beautiful and the drive was lovely.  But the kids had been in the car most of the day and, due to our lack of planning, were even more hungry and tired than before.  

Finally we happened upon a little, nearly deserted, hill town (which was really a suburb, if you will, of Pazano).  In this little town we found a restaurant that opened at 7:00 pm. We were hesitant to eat there as nobody else was around.  But one look at our forlorn kids and we decided to take a chance.  At this little restaurant in this quiet little hill town where we were the only customers we had one of the best meals of our trip. 

The kids tried, and ate, everything we ordered; crostini with liver pate, tagliatelle with wild boar ragu, thick crusty bread, tender sweet meats, rich local wines and delectable tiramisu. The waiter/owner was terribly sweet.  The whole experience was well worth the hunger and the wait.  If we ever go back (when we go back) we’ll eat here again.  I’ve got their business card tucked safely in my wallet for when we return.  

And then home to bed after another long day.  Mama had plans for our final day in Tuscany.  We were going to see some pigs -- and indeed we did; both wild and domestic.  


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