Museo Casa Enzo Ferrari, Modena
In the vast stadium of fluorescent light, the cars look like glowing orbs of style. Raised on low platforms, each machine is given a respectful space from the others. Despite the name, this is not a museum. This is more a shrine… and everything is set up to allow visitors to worship.
For car enthusiasts (I’m not going to pretend to be one), Ferrari is one of the gods. Like religion generally, there are many faiths – but devotees of each believe fervently in theirs. It is no different with cars and Ferrari has one of the largest and most faithful congregations in the world.
The Enzo Ferrari Museum in the Italian city of Modena is built on the site of the man’s birthplace. But it is only partly about Enzo Ferrari and his life. You see, his life became the car brand (not just in name) and the story transcends the years of one human. The museum is also about the machines he helped create and, although not stated as such, the cult that surrounds them.
It is appropriate, then, that the museum is split physically into two sections that separate the man from the machines. In the old brown brick building, you can find out more about Enzo and his career. Directly adjacent, in the enormous and modern construction made of yellow and glass, the cars are displayed.
Architecturally, it is superb. From above, it resembles the bonnet of a car and exudes the sense of style and technology the Ferrari brand is famous for. Inside it feels like the space is wasted – that there’s a whole lot of nothingness there. But isn’t that what luxury is all about? Ferrari doesn’t need to be penurious with the layout… and that in itself says a lot.
Once or twice a year the displays in the museum are changed. The cars in these photos are from one particular exhibition that honours the origins of Enzo Ferrari and shows his work and his influences. It’s not just Ferrari cars, but also those he was involved in.
The man who would eventually give his name to one of the most famous brands in the world has always been intertwined with others. Enzo Ferrari worked for many years for Alfa Romeo as a mechanic and driver. Before his death in 1988, he had also started to sell large chunks of his company to Fiat.
The man was all about cars – but that doesn’t mean his creation was not all about him. “I am the one who dreamt of being Ferrari”, he once said. Perhaps more poignant was his other famous quote: “Cars are only beautiful when they win”.
It’s a sense you get all through the visit. The people here are proud of their brand and proud of what it stands for. It’s not arrogance… it’s more a feeling that they are part of something beautiful because they are winning. You can understand how the worshippers become so devout. It’s an infectious faith.
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Time Travel Turtle was a guest of the Emilia Romagna tourism board but the opinions, over-written descriptions and bad jokes are his own.