The birth place of Lamborghini, Ferrari, and Ducati, the Emilia Romagna region has endless opportunities to do factory tours, test drives and museum visits for sports car enthusiasts. One of the most unique place to visit however is the Maserati Museum in Modena – unique in the fact that it’s an incredible private collection of Maserati cars located on a working Parmigiano Reggiano Farm owned by famous “football sticker legend” Umberto Panini.
VIDEO GUIDE: The Modena Maserati Museum
Visiting The Maserati Museum and Hombre Farm
We visited the small but impressive Maserati Museum on Hombre Farm on a recent tour of Motor Valley – where I also got to ride around in a Ferrari 458!
Before my visit, I had no idea who Umberto Panini was and knew nothing of his incredible private collection of luxury sports cars. By the end of the tour I thought the man a legend and aspirated to be like him one day!
Starting with a farm tour
Our tour started on the farm, where our guide explained the long and complex process involved in producing Parmigiano Reggiano – known to be some of the best cheese in the world. We were shown where the cows spend most of their time (over 500 of them!), what they are and are not allowed to eat (it’s an organic farm and their feed is monitored closely to ensure it stays organic while still been nutritious for them), where they’re milked and exactly what is done with their milk twice a day to start the process of making a 24 month-aged wheel of cheese!
Next we were taken to their large cold room, where the cheese is stored for a minimum of 24 months to mature – a store room that can hold over 4,000 wheels of cheese at once. As you can imagine it was beyond impressive, with everyone’s eyes darting around the room, wandering up and down the long aisles in awe at seeing so much delicious cheese in one place.
We were told that the farm and cheese production here started out as a hobby for Umberto Panini when he first returned from Venezuela with his wife, starting a new life in Italy. He had been working overseas when his brothers, who had already set up a making a business selling football stickers, persuaded him to come home and join him in their venture.
Once back in Italy, his main work was the production of the Panini football stickers and sticker books, and he invented the printing machine (the Fifimatic) that enabled the stickers to be printed and packaged automatically – a step that turner their simple sticker business into a multi-million euro empire.
It turned out to be an insanely successful venture that made him his millions, as these stickers are still used and collected today by kids around the world.
He finally retired from this line of work selling the company in the 80’s with a vision to work full time on his “Hombre”, producing was he hoped would be “the best cheese in the world”.
He seems to have succeeded as the inspectors of the Consortium of Parmigiano-Reggiano authorise Hombre farm to use the Consortium trademark for one hundred percent of their wheels of cheese – quite a rare occurrence in the cheese business – especially here in Emilia Romagna.
Visting The Panini Collection
Following our tour of the farm and a quick tasting experience in their small farm shop, we were excited to finally enter the Maserati Museum – Umberto Panini’s own private collection of luxury Maserati cars.
The story goes that in 1996, the original Maserati Museum attached to the factory decided they would auction off the collection in London, no doubt being sold to collectors around the world. The city of Modena was devastated at the thought of losing so many Maserati cars, a huge part of the history and heritage of this noter-mad city. They protested and put out an appeal for help, eventually coming to Umberto who decided to stand in and buy THE ENTIRE COLLECTION, thus stopping the auction from ever taking place.
This incredible collection of both Maserati cars and now luxury sports cars, vintage vehicles including old bikes, Lamborghini tractors, Mercedes and race cars all take pride of place inside a custom built hangar on the farm – build to look like an old railway station.
You can easily spend an hour walking around inside, reading the information panels detailing the history and origin of each car in the collection, taking photographs and simply being mesmerised that such a large collection could be owned by one man, a farmer!
Most of the cars are vintage Maserati, dating back as far as 1934 (the Maserati 6C 34) but there are some new and more modern cars on display too including a Maserati 3200 GT Trofeo from 2002 and Maserati Ghibli from 1996 – a special year as it’s when Umberto bought the collection from Maserati.
The Maserati Museum, also known as The Panini Collection, is free to visit and is also sometimes used for private events and gala receptions. A combined farm tour, cheese tasting and museum visit makes for the perfect morning out when visiting the beautiful, and historic, city of Modena.
Visiting The Maserati Museum in Modena
The Umberto Panini Maserati Museum is located just outside of Modena, and is not accessible by public transport, You can either drive, take a tour or get a taxi from the city of Modena.
The farm and collection is open from 9:00 am to 12:30 pm and from 2:30 pm to 6:00 pm Monday to Friday, and from 9.30am to 12.30pm on Saturday mornings. It’s only open certain months of the year and you often need to request to visit – you can’t just show up and let yourself in! For more info check out their website here.
The farm is free to visit but if you’re in a group then a tour is mandatory and must be arranged in advance.
BONUS READ: Visiting The Lamborghini Factory in Sant’Agata Bolognese.