You know you’ve woken up in heaven when there’s a Ferrari V8 or V12 redlining past your hotel window every two minutes. It’s a place where red is more than just a colour and 458 is so much more than a number. You know it’s heaven when you walk to the factory gates and they invite you in for tea. It’s a place where they have a parking lot full of classic Ferraris and old F1 cars right inside the engine assembly plant just so that the workers can see what they are putting their heart and soul into. It’s a place where the smallest engine they build has eight cylinders.
It’s the only place on Earth where there’s an Enzo parked outside a nondescript door and an F40 being worked on on the other side of that door. Inside this workshop is where all the cars that starred in your boyhood wet dreams are parked up next to each other – in my case, the 288GTO, the 275 GTB/4, a Daytona, a Lusso and a 250LM. It’s a place where they take you to a warehouse and it’s full of Ferrari FXXs and 599XXs standing door mirror-to-door mirror. The ex-Michael Schumacher black FXX is among them. And just when you think things can’t get any better, they take you to another warehouse full of Formula 1 cars of the past parked wheel-to-wheel almost have a stroke.
You know it’s the right place when every traffic jam has a scarlet car stuck in it. It’s a place where your neck hurts because you keep whipping your head around to see which Ferrari is making that god-almighty noise. It’s where every other shop has a red shop front. Where the owner of the shop speaks only Italian, but you both speak the same bright-red dialect.
It’s heaven when the proprietor of the restaurant you’ve stepped into knows every one of the last 15 Ferrari Formula 1 drivers personally. Where the wine you’re drinking, the plates you’re eating from, the forks and knives you’re using all have a prancing horse on them. Even the tablecloth has the insignia. It’s a place where you step out for a smoke and bump into Fernando Alonso. Just like that.
It’s a place where your shuttle driver spits out of his window when he sees a Lamborghini. It’s the only place on Earth where a nice man in a jacket will hand you the keys to a Ferrari and tell you which mode works best for powerslides. It’s where policemen wave at you when you blow past them in a blur of red and noise.
Maranello. Centre of the Universe.
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