EuroTrip 2016: Visiting Milan, Modena, and Maranello (including a couple of Ferrari Museums!)
We're having an amazing time!
I'm in bed in Florence right now listening to the sounds of people below who party harder than me in languages I do not speak. I'm still struggling with jet lag a bit, and since I can't sleep, I thought I'd give an update on this moving mess.
We left on Tuesday and flew Emirates overnight into Milan. For whatever reason, Milan was the cheapest airfare into Italy, so even though we had no plans to see Milan, we ended up staying the night and doing a little sightseeing. Of course, there was some kind of international design festival in Milan at the time, so while airfare was cheap, all the hotels had inflated pricing. We ended up staying in a private room at a hostel called Ostello Bello Grande.
Milan: Ostello Bello Grande
Ostello Bello Grande made me wish we were staying in Milan longer. The 24-hour staff is incredibly friendly and helpful. When you first arrive, you enter into a patchwork of tables and chairs with a bar and reception to the left. They offer a bunch of free-to-use amenities like a travel book library, laptops and traveling modems to borrow, a free drink when you arrive, free coffee & tea at any time, free snacks. And the elevator was a lifesaver.
A huge perk for us (with all our heavy luggage) was how close the hostel was to Milano Centrale. After our flight landed at Malpensa Airport, and we got through customs, we made our way to the Trenord train into Milano Centrale. Ostello Bello Grande was a 5 minute walk away! Being so close to the central train station, there are plenty of taxis, trams, or buses available to take you around Milan. After checking in, which included filling out a form with our passport number and favorite song, we decided to walk towards the Duomo.
The 25 (or so)-minute walk was a bit of an adventure. Since neither of us had service, we had only a general idea of where the Duomo was. So it was pretty cool making a wrong turn and stumbling upon THIS:
I suppose it's the nature of hostels, but Ostello Bello Grande felt like a community. There were always people in the bar area, which was where they also hosted karaoke nights, or on the terrace where there were hammocks and ping pong. We definitely did not use it all to its potential. We were so beat from our fitful, upright airplane sleep that we fell asleep at 9 PM and woke up around 3 AM. And then I feel back to sleep around 6 AM and slept through my chance to have some of the breakfast they offered before we had to check out and head to the train again.
Modena: Car Trouble & Museo Enzo Ferrari
After leaving Milan on Thursday Morning, we got off the train in Modena and took a cab to the rental car office. We got there a few minutes before they were scheduled to close for a two-hour lunch, but they were already closed. Our cab driver stuck around and packed us back up into his car and take us to Museo Enzo Ferrari elsewhere in Modena. The museum staff was kind enough to let us keep our luggage at their front desk while we toured the collections.
Museo Enzo Ferrari is on the site of the home that Enzo Ferrari sold in order to buy his first race car. The museum itself was super cool and consisted of two buildings. The fancy new one housed the cafe, simulator, and a large collection of Ferraris. The original building housed the engine collection and a few cars including a record-breaking hydroplane powered by Ferrari.
Inside the engine room:
Inside the main collection:
Maranello: Museo Ferrari Maranello, Hotel Maranello Village, & Santuario della Beata Vergine del Castello
After a couple hours at the museum, and a cappuccino to kill time, we headed back to Europcar in a cab, and finally got our rental car situated. We got a new Fiat Panda to drive ourselves to Maranello and back to Modena the next day.
The drive was an easy 30 minutes to our Hotel Maranello Village (even the endless traffic circles were no problem). The hotel is a Ferrari-themed complex that has Ristorante Paddock, Stop & Go Bar, and the informal Pit Lane Restaurant. We stayed in a building called Suzuka. You get the picture.
We set up in our room and then headed to Museo Ferrari Maranello. The museum has a pit stop experience, a simulator, and a cafeteria along with the collection. When we parked, we were approached by a woman in full Ferrari gear asking if we wanted to drive a Ferrari for 90 Euro for 10 minutes on the backroads of Maranello. We didn't - it was a bit too steep - and then found out that they're not at all associated with Ferrari and warned against it. So, that was weird.
Inside Museo Ferrari:
Shrine of Our Lady of the Castle:
After the museum, we drove around Maranello a bit looking for sights to see. We ended up at Santuario della Beata Vergine del Castello, which has a panoramic view from the top of the hill. Apparently, there was a castle with a church built there in the year 916 with some fortifications in response to Hungarian invasions of the time. Everything but the church was destroyed and it was restored and reconstructed in 1328. But then, in 1510, Pope Julius II sent his nephew in command of an army to conquer the Modenese and they destroyed everything. The only thing to survive was a painting of the Blessed Virgin above the doorway. THEN in 1558, Spaniards set fire to the castle AGAIN, and everything except this same image of the Blessed Virgin survived. This was considered a miracle, and in 1634, they built the shrine that stands there today.
Afterwards, we headed back to Hotel Maranello Village and had dinner in Ristorante Paddock, which was quite nice. I had pumpkin ravioli and Joe had gnocchi with cheese sauce and balsamic vinegar. In the morning, we grabbed breakfast before returning the rental car, getting back in a cab, and hopping on the train.