As part of the sociology class with Professor Smith, I had a class excursion this weekend to the Umbria, Emilia-Romagna, and Marche regions of Italy. For a bit of geography, Rome is not only the capital of Italy, but also the capital of the region in which it is located: Lazio. Umbria, landlocked by Lazio and Marche, is known for its agricultural products, such as wine and olive oil. Northward, Emilia-Romagna is home to the city of Bologna in which the oldest university in Europe is located. Furthermore, Modena, famous for its balsamic vinegar, is also located in this region. Marche lies on the eastern coast of Italy and is known for its industrial products, the most notable of which is paper. We went to many cities and although I felt like I was on one of those extremely touristy tour buses, I enjoyed seeing the countryside. The terrain from Umbria to Emilia-Romagna to Marche is so different even though the lands are so close!
Departing Friday morning from Rome, we had a whirlwind of visits from the wine museum in Umbria to the walking tour of Modena to the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese museum in Emilia-Romagna to the Ferrari museum in Maranello to the discos of Riccione to the paper museum in Fabriano and finally back to Rome. The best visits by far were the Ferrari and paper museums.
The Ferrari Museum in Maranello was built because of pressure from society. Enzo Ferrari, the founder of the company, never enjoyed looking backwards; he was always looking forward to next year’s model and sold every single car—never keeping any for nostalgia. For this reason, the Ferrari Museum showcases cars that are on loan by their owners from around the world. Thus, the museum is always changing!
Enzo Ferrari started his company by building racing cars. He only expanded into the commercial world when he needed funding for the races. As such, Enzo’s primary focus has always been the racing world. The first Ferraris were yellow (to represent Enzo’s city of birth, Modena), but beginning in the 1920s, racing associations required each car to be painted a certain color to represent its country of origin—Italy received the “Rosso Corso” red, which has become the signature Ferrari color. Another interesting fact I learned is that although many people praise Ferrari cars for their elegant appearance, Enzo did not design the bodies of these vehicles at all. In fact, the Pininfarina design company, which consults for other car companies such as Maserati, Rolls-Royce, Cadillac, Jaguar, Volvo, Alfa Romeo, Honda, Fiat, Peugeot and Lancia, created (and still does) almost all Ferrari bodies. Thus, while Pininfarina is concerned solely with the exterior, Ferrari concentrates on the interior. At first, I was a little disappointed that these iconic cars are not the work of one man and one company, but when I considered other Italian companies, such as the furniture store Cassina and lighting store Artemide, the act of hiring a design consultant and producing their work seems to be a trend. For example, industrial designer Achilles Castiglioni designed numerous household items that are for sale by Cassina, while fashion designer Issey Miyake designed a line of lamps for Artemide. These past collaborations have resurfaced in full force; especially evident are the collections between Swedish retail company H&M and various fashion designers—Stella McCartney, Lanvin, Versace, Marni, just to name a few. It seems everyone is copying the Italians!
After the museum visit, a few students had the opportunity to drive a Ferrari. Unfortunately, I forgot my license in Rome so I was not able to, but that only means I will have to come back to Italy!