On to the plate

Experimenting with flavours, colours and style of food served at our place

The Machines of Modena and Maranello


Bring on the fast cars.

Bring on the fast cars.

Our train to Modena was fairly uneventful, after we left the train station. The compartments fit 6 people, 3 each side, facing each other. Mark and I were in the middle positions facing each other, between two couples. One an older couple, the other young. The young couple were the ones interpreting to us what had happened with the man asking for money to buy a ticket for his family member.

We arrived in Modena just after midday. Again using Google maps to help navigate from the station to the hotel. What a bumpy trip that was for our luggage. The footpaths were cobbled with small square stones.

We arrived at the hotel and the lady at reception was very good at showing us a map and explaining where we were and how to get to various sights, she mentioned a couple of restaurants and said we should not pay any more than 25-30 Euros (I don’t know if that was all up or individually). She mentioned that we’d be able to see the whole town and go into every church in 3 hours. This gave us the impression the place was really small.

Welcome to small town living in Italy.

Except, well we got lost, sort of. In the end I felt we had walked way too far before seeing the Duomo. I resorted to Google Maps. We were well of course, and had walked far from where we were meant to be. But this place was huge, well based on what we’d been lead to believe.

You buy Focaccia by weight. That seems fair to me. At least you get as much/little as you feel like.

You buy Focaccia by weight. That seems fair to me. At least you get as much/little as you feel like.

We happily found another Grom Gelato shop on our way back to the main city centre.

We happily found another Grom Gelato shop on our way back to the main city centre.

We were hungry, it was around 1:30pm. We found a little place that sold lunch type food, and alcoholic drinks (if you wanted). We bought a slab of Focaccia. They sell it based on weight. It was lovely. It had lots of holes in it. It was real artisan bread. However placing the order was a little difficult. This was our first place where the younger generation did not understand or speak English very well. I just assumed anyone that looked to have been in school recently would have a fair grasp of English. We did this little dance about whether we were eating in or take away and having established we were eating in, we got into a vicious circle about whether we were paying first, or later. Really we didn’t care when we paid. One of the other young staff members had to help sort that tangle out.

Balsamic Vinegar. To tell if it's the really good stuff you tip the bottle and then back up the right way. The longer it takes for the balsamic vinegar to slide down the neck the better it is. The most expensive bottle I found was 75 Euro.

Balsamic Vinegar. To tell if it’s the really good stuff you tip the bottle and then back up the right way. The longer it takes for the balsamic vinegar to slide down the neck the better it is. The most expensive bottle I found was 75 Euro.

On our way back to where we were meant to be we found another Grom Gelato store and tried some other flavours. This was my first gelato in a cone. I know. How exciting – right?

The streets were very quiet, it was weird having just come from Milan where it was very much alive, and full of people. Here we saw very few people, even when we got to the main street. The buildings and shops looked so different from Milan. It’s like they were poles apart. The cobbled piazza was almost a ripple of cobbles. They were formed in waves, probably worn by centuries of use and paved out by horse and buggy. I’m guessing. Maybe they land just wasn’t as stable.

The Piazza. Cobbled waves. People biked over this, their bells ringing because it was so bumpy.

The Piazza. Cobbled waves. People biked over this, their bells ringing because it was so bumpy.

The Duomo was closed so we decided to pop back to the hotel and return later. When we did come back the place was thriving. It’s like it was two different towns. I guess this place is one where people pack up during the heat of the day and come back later. Of course it rained, so heat wasn’t really a factor, at least not when we’d ventured out for lunch.

Modena is fairly vast as it turns out.

Modena is fairly vast as it turns out.

We had just enough time to go up the tower of the Duomo. It was meant to be closed from 6:30 (but closed properly at 7pm) but the lady allowed us to go anyway. From the top we could see how big Modena is, and it’s way bigger than we understood.

Having taken some photos we decided to stay close to the Piazza and have dinner at one of the restaurants there. Not understanding the way things are done here we completely confused the waiter. We wanted a drink and dinner. We realised after the fact that the whole drink thing with free snacks was still the norm here, so it made no sense to have a drink (with snacks) and dinner. We drank our drink with our dinner. We are slowly learning what the customs are, but not before doing it wrong the first time.

Mr Fussy's "tortellini". The OMG moment. Perhaps there's a foodie in there after all.

Mr Fussy’s “tortellini”. The OMG moment. Perhaps there’s a foodie in there after all. Alright, I’ve just had a proper look at the photo I took, and yes this pasta is tortellini. It didn’t look lik 

The Tortona/Cupcake.

The Tortino/Cupcake.

We thoroughly enjoyed our dinner. Mr Fussy took his first mouthful of his Tortellini and said Oh My God (I’ve never heard him say that). He said it was the best pasta he’d ever tasted and at that point told me we were coming back for dinner the following day (and we did) so he could have it again. The thing is that his pasta dish did not look like Tortellini at all, I thought it was Tagliatelle. This meant that I convinced Mr Fussy on our return visit that the waiter had written the wrong thing and so we both ordered the Tagliatelle. It was not the same dish he had the night before, still very nice, but a disappointment for him when he wanted the same dish. Oops. The other strange thing was the chocolate dessert. The menu had both Italian and English descriptions. They had Tortino/Cupcake. The description made me thing that cupcake was not correct, they talked about a chocolate sauce. When the waiter said there would be a 12 minute wait I suspected the dessert was a Lava Cake (Molten cake, Fondant cake). I was right. Mr Fussy had the Semifreddo. A first for him. It was really nice (of course I had some). But the second night he had the Tortone and I had the Lambrusco Sorbet (made with a local grape).

Mr Fussy happily standing for this photo.

Mr Fussy happily standing for this photo.

Le Ferrari. This was in a dark room. Every now and then the sound of the engine would be heard meaning the lights would flicker for a moment. I had to time it right for taking a photo.

Le Ferrari. This was in a dark room. Every now and then the sound of the engine would be heard meaning the lights would flicker for a moment. I had to time it right for taking a photo.

Well the whole purpose of dropping into Modena was the Ferrari Museum. When we arrived at our hotel we realised the Enzo Ferrari Museum was almost next door. It wasn’t on our list of things to do in Modena but we strolled down their first. This Museum has more about Maserati than Ferrari’s but the outside building was the original building used to build a Ferrari, and the building in which Enzo was born.

Logo changes over the passage of time.

Logo changes over the passage of time.

2014-07-12 17.49.07

This is inside the building Enzo Ferrari was born, at the Enzo Ferrari Museum in Modena.

What I found most interesting here was the development of the Ferrari logo. I got a t-shirt in Milan that shows some of the change over time, but the Museum had the full history of the change.

Mr Fussy was so funny. Of all the other places we’ve been to, and the bookings made, only today was he concerned that I had the tickets. First up was to make our way back to the Train Station for our shuttle bus. We found a much more direct way to get here, all covered, and the pathing much more smooth. Trying to convince the driver that one of the three pages (double sided) I had was confirmation of our shuttle was one thing. He either knew no English (hard to believe an employee sent to collect mostly Tourists wouldn’t know how to speak English) or couldn’t be bothered having a conversation with us. Anyway all sorted and we were on our way. Mr Fussy was very excited. I’m not sure how this rates for him amongst all the other things we’ve done/seen so far (let me ask – not the top, the Tortellini in Modena does!).

Mr Fussy receiving instructions on how to work the simulator.

Mr Fussy receiving instructions on how to work the simulator.

Many powerful horses here.

Many powerful horses here.

The shuttle driver turned out to be a bit of a race car driver, or at least he treated the shuttle bus like it was a sports car. He was tooting at vehicles that were going slower than he wanted to sit behind and he was weaving in and out of the traffic. We were glad to have had our seat (lap) belts on.

And we arrived. Collecting the tickets we had ordered online was a very smooth process. The ordering of them was not. What we found out is the tickets allowed entry just the once. As soon as we exited the museum that was it. We could return to the car simulation, and the café but not back into the museum. We had a Ferrari Factory tour booked at 12:30pm, the guy at the counter seemed to think we had plenty of time to get through the museum before the tour. I expected the place to be really big, and that 2 hours would be insufficient, but I was wrong. Shows how much I know about the history of Ferrari and what to expect in the museum. We had time to swap Mr Fussy’s F1 simulator experience and fit it in before the factory tour.

I hadn’t realised that the museum would be in a township, I thought it was all part of the factory and the factory was just out in the sticks, but Maranello is a place and people live and work there. I was happy to have a chance to look around. We didn’t really spent time looking. Instead we had lunch after the factory tour and then grabbed an earlier shuttle back to Modena.

Having returned earlier we pretty much holed ourselves up in the hotel room until it was closer to dinner time. My feet were aching and it was hot and we retreated to the room where there was air conditioning, and I could get off my feet.  So while there, here’s what we wrote up of the factory tour.


Before we forget I’m going to jot down all the facts we can remember from our tour to the Ferrari Factory located in Maranello.

Obviously they believe they have the best mechanics. Only the best of the best get to hand built a 12 cylinder car which uses 900 individual parts all put together by hand. The mechanic signs his name to the build so that if anything does go wrong, they can go directly to the mechanic.

An 8 cylinder engine has 700 (plus, can’t remember the exact number) individual parts.

The restaurant feeds 2500 employees a day. Who knew there were so many people involved.

The waiting list for a Ferrari 458 (the older models) car is between 12-13 months. For a road car (le Ferrari), the waiting time is 2 years. Mark said the Wheels Magazine said it was 4 years.

All the streets are named after drivers who have won with the exception for Michael Schumacher who has a Piazza named after him. And of course the main street is called Enzo Ferrari.

There’s a pool that the car bodies are dipped into, then rotated 360 degrees to ensure they are completely, and evenly coloured.

They have a purpose built racing lap which includes particular corners from around the world (Spain and Germany were mentioned in particular). Michael Schumacher has the fastest lap time of 55seconds in 2004. The lap is 3 km (well it’s shy by a few metres). They took the tour down the track. The bus tour can’t always drive the track, but since there was no testing today it was available for the bus to drive on.

They have a new prototype at the moment. The bus took us down a section that is not normally part of the tour (but who would know), and we passed this white car with lots of black squares on it. It was painted in this way so that if you took a photo of it, the photo would just show the car as a blur and no one would be able to copy the design.

They take each newly built car out into little towns where the population is low so they can test the car on every type of road surface to ensure the car behaves as expected.

What had been Enzo Ferrari’s office (which is in a white building of 2 floors) is not the accommodation section for the drivers. It has their sleeping quarters, a gym, a place for relaxation. There’s a separate building adjacent which is where the press go when there’s a press conference on site.


Inside the Duomo.

Inside the Duomo.

Clock outside the Piazza. It's accurate.

Clock outside the Piazza. It’s accurate.

Monday morning we slipped back into the Duomo and were able to get inside the church itself. Again we were surprised by the people in Modena. We thought the place came alive after 3:30pm, but on a weekday we actually saw people dressed in usual office attire. I’m not sure what we were really expecting, but I think the description the lady at reception had given us, and our first “look” at Modena left us with the feeling that it was a sleepy little back water township. But really it’s not.

What a thriving little market. And it's own water feature too.

What a thriving little market. And it’s own water feature too.

We came across an inside market which I didn’t know existed. What a great way to food shop. Everything you need is there, and I suspect you know the people running the stalls by name as a local. I wish we lived in a place that had daily markets selling fresh produce, meats, cheeses and the like.

After our quick trip through the township it was time to collect our bags and head off to the train station.

Because the lift was not working when we arrived on the Saturday we expected to find it still not working. So after hauling our suitcases up several sets of stairs to the platform we groaned when we saw others using the lift.

We hadn’t realised the LED display gave information about the train layout. We missed seeing that the first class carriages were at the “head” of the train. We had to run many carriages to get to the right place. No small feat when you’ve got full laden suitcases and we’re trying to negotiate your path there around others. Also the trains seem to be really prompt at leaving the station (ours was 10 minutes late arriving, so they weren’t looking to hang around longer than necessary). The whistle sounded before we had both made it onto the train.

Our train was quite full and when we got on we had nowhere to store our suitcases. We jammed them in our area as best we could, but they still overhung into the aisle. A middle aged man approached us and tried to tell us that we were in his seats. Of course he didn’t speak English and we couldn’t understand him, but enough was said and gestured that we knew what he was implying. We had to bring out our printed copy of our booking and point and gesture at the seat signs to try and get across that we were seated correctly. He apologised, which we did understand. His granddaughter was meant to be in the set of 4 seats on the opposite side of the aisle and he sorted that out with the lady with her two boys, who had taken up the 4 seats with bags etc on the spare seat.

Our trip from Modena to Bologna was less than 30 minutes and as soon as we stood to manoeuvre our bags out into the aisle the man and his wife pretty much were in our seats. They wasted no time.

Having arrived in Bologna it was time to consult with Google maps to determine the way out of the station to reach our hotel. We’re getting better with the local train stations, but it’s not always straightforward to understand which side of the station you should exit to ensure you’re on the right side for where you need to be.


2 thoughts on “The Machines of Modena and Maranello

  1. F1 simulator… Simon is so jealous We are both looking forward to the next edition!

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