Europe for motorheads: Inside the world of 6 futuristic luxury car factories across Italy and Germany

We take you on a tour inside the extraordinary worlds of these automobile meccas, courtesy the co-founder of travel-tech company Pickyourtrail, a compulsive motorhead himself

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The people of Bologna regard sports cars the way the Bordelais regard their wine—with genuine pride that lingers on to become a part of their identity. Bologna, a historic city with colonnaded medieval grids, houses the iconic Automobili Lamborghini where the world’s first supercar, Miura, was given shape, as early as 1963. The facility offers a rare glimpse into the world of tractor manufacturer Ferruccio Lamborghini’s journey — from owning a Ferrari 250 GTO to subsequently launching his own line of sports cars with the iconic raging bull mascot (incidentally named after his zodiac, Taurus). Private tours can be booked online on lamborghini.com. Even guided tours to different production lines at the facility are available — right from the V12 line where Aventador’s engine and frame were put together for the first time, to the V10 line that saw the birth of the Huracán model. The tour can be extended to the recently revamped Museum of Technologies or Lamborghini Museum where one can experience firsthand the thrill of driving the brand’s iconic creations with their driving stimulator.

Wallet: The museum is open everyday of the week from 9:30am to 6pm. Standard tours start from 17 EUR (approx Rs1,400)

What else to do in Bologna?

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Go on a culinary tour around the Old Town where family-run producers and local factories host travellers for parmigiano cheese and lambrusco wine tasting along with fresh sliced prosciutto and aged balsamic vinegar. The Piazza Maggiore is Bologna’s central square where the 17th century San Petronio Cathedral shares space with bustling cafes and boutiques. You can even shop here for vintage records, salumeri, vegan candles, and silver jewellery

Stay: Grand Hotel Majestic gia Baglioni (grandhotelmajestic.duetorrihotels.com) is centrally located with access to major city landmarks. Doubles from Rs 34,000

San Cesario sul Panaro is a small commune located on the outskirts of Modena, popular for its opera heritage and Vignola cherries. San Cesario sul Panaron is closely related to the evolution of the Italian carmaker, Pagani — which borrows its inspiration from the Renaissance, and Leonardo da Vinci’s belief that art and science must walk together hand in hand. A visit to the new Atelier in San Cesario sul Panaro (pagani.com) in Via dell’Industria 26 offers an insight into how each Zonda and Huayra (the brand’s flagship models) are hand-built in a bustling atmosphere resembling a typical Italian piazza. The attention to detail in crafting every single component of the cars is a true work of art. For the uninitiated, it is advisable to first visit the adjacent museum, Museo Horacio Pagani, to get acquainted to the different creations of Pagani, like Zonda C12, Zonda S, Zonda F, Zonda R, Zonda Revolution and the latest Huayra and Huayra BC.

Wallet: Guided tours to museum and factory are priced at 50 EUR (approx Rs 4,000). The facility is open from 9:30am to 5pm (Monday to Friday) and 9:30am to 12:30pm (Saturday)

What else to do in Modena?

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The birthplace of Italian operatic tenor, Luciano Pavarotti, Modena is home to classic opera houses like Teatro Communale Luciano Pavarotti (teatrocomunalemodena.it) which host popular Italian opera artistes in its spacious 900-seater theatre.

Considered the best gelateria in the Emilia-Romagna region, Gelateria Bloom (bloomgelato.it) offers farm fresh produce and strictly adheres to a chemical- and additive-free gelato in its small yet cosy setting.

Also read: The top 5 cars most desired by men

Stay: Hotel Rua Frati 48 in San Francesco (ruafrati48.com) sits pretty in the heart of the city with facilities such as state-of-the-art jacuzzi baths. Doubles from Rs 35,000/night

The last stop on the Italian leg of the tour is Maranello, home to the Ferrari (ferrari.com) family since the early 1940s. With a population of about 17,000 residents — mainly employees of the Ferrari and Formula One racing team — Maranello was chosen as the group’s new base after operations were briefly shifted during WWII. 

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A visit to the Ferrari factory complex and museum gives a closer look at the Ferrari track where the Prancing Horse has carried out all its competition and road car tests since 1972. While the Ferrari buildings and facilities have been designed by modern architects of the likes of Renzo Piano, Massimiliano Fuksas, Jean Nouvelle, Marco Visconti and Luigi Sturchio, the historic parts of the factory, including the entrance which dates back to 1947, have been meticulously preserved by the team. A private tour of the museum offers a chance to watch the beasts up close. While the first floor is dedicated to Ferrari’s carbon-fibre modern convertibles and more recent creations, the old classics, such as 275 GTB4 and Ferrari GTO, rest upstairs on an angular floor.

Wallet: Tickets are priced at 15EUR (approx Rs 1,200) for adults and 13EUR (approx Rs 1,000) for students and senior citizens. It is advisable to book the tickets on the website well in advance

What else to do in Maranello?

The Castello di Spezzano (fioranoturismo.it) in Maranello is a 5-minute drive from the Ferrari Museum. The 11th-century building is an important military structure and home to the museum of ceramics

Stay: Hotel Maranello Palace (hotelmaranellopalace.com) offers easy access to the Ferrari facility. Check with the concierge to arrange a visit to the Ferrari Museum. Doubles from Rs 11,000/night

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Munich-based car manufacturer, BMW, offers a superlative experience by granting visitors access to four of its facilities. One can choose between BMW Welt, BMW Museum, BMW Group Plant, and BMW Recycling & Dismantling Centre and even further, between different types of tours like BMW Intensive, BMW Visionary, and BMW Innovation. 

While the BMW Welt offers an insight into the complex logistics of automobile delivery to customers from all over the world, a guided tour of the BMW Group’s main plant provides access to all areas of automotive production: the press plant, the body shop, the paint shop and assembly. 

Also read: Bentley, BMW, Porsche: Here's a list of best cars available in India with price and specifications

The BMW Museum has about 125 of the brand’s most valuable and attractive automobiles on display. The most interesting stop on the tour, however,  is the BMW Group Recycling & Dismantling Centre where one can experience the spectacular dismantling of a vehicle in the final stage of its life cycle up close. 

For families with kids, the BMW Junior Programme offers several brief workshops at the BMW Museum for those interested in designing, photography, and engineering.

Wallet: Tours start from 22 EUR (approx Rs 1,750) for individuals to 340 EUR (approx Rs 27,000) for big groups of 20 pax. The 195-minute tour involves about 5km of walking. Comfortable shoes are recommended

What else to do in Munich?

Head over to Schneider Brauhas (schneider-brauhaus.de), where breakfast is served with beer! Indulge in traditional weisswurst (Bavarian sausage) with weissbier (wheat beer) for a local experience 

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Stay: Munich Marriott Hotel sits in the heart of the city with premium facilities such as spa and indoor pool. Doubles from Rs 10,000/night

For a first-time visitor, Stuttgart may come across as a traditional industrial town where distinct manufacturing plants line the landscape, and ever so often cars speed away along the autobahn. Among the many factories that dominate the landscape of Stuttgart, is the Mercedes-Benz facility. 

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The automaker offers a host of tour programmes, such as an engine production facility, special tours on architecture, women and cars, motorsports, Focus G-Class, and for children. 

Also read: Lamborghini Huracan Evo: An ultra-smart super car

From discovering the unique architecture of the Mercedes-Benz Museum (which is reminiscent of a DNA double helix) to learning the fascinating history of the legendary G-Class and exploring racing cars which participated in the first ever motorcar race in history, there’s a lot on the table for an auto enthusiast visiting  the Mercedes-Benz facility.

Wallet: In addition to guided tours by experts, Mercedes-Benz also offers audio tours across its facilities. Drop a mail at classic@daimler.com or call +49 711 1730000 for booking-related Information

What else to do in Stuttgart?

The Staatsgalerie (staatsgalerie.de) is home to an extraordinary collection of European art from the 14th to the 21st centuries and post-WWII avant-gardists. It also include works by artists such as Picasso and Kandinsky

Stay: Althoff Hotel am Schlossgarten (althoffcollection.com) is very close to the museums and galleries. Doubles from Rs 11,000/night

A visit to Germany for any motorhead is incomplete without a visit to the Volkswagen (volkswagen.de) facility in Dresden. Of the different production plants Volkswagen has thrown open to the public, the most popular is the Transparent Factory in Dresden. 

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Launched recently, the base offers interactive experiences and an insight into the future of mobility first hand. Here, one can look forward to witnessing Volkswagen’s flagship electric car being manufactured. 

Guests can get to closely observe many of the constructions steps as they tour the assembly line and production area and learn about the top-quality craftsmanship and high-precision work required to bring these electric automobiles to life and then on to the road.

Wallet: The facility is open from 9am to 7pm for guided tours up to two hours. The assembly unit is closed on weekends and holidays. Tours start from Rs 600

What else to do?

Art-lovers visiting Dresden should save time to explore Zwinger, a baroque-styled palace designed by the architect Gottfried Semper

Stay: Relais & Châteaux Hotel Bülow Palais (buelow-palais.de) is a boutique property offering 58 rooms and suites alongside world-class art treasures in its impressive museums and concert halls. Doubles from Rs 10,500/night

Also read: Latest car news: Porsche Taycan, Bugatti Centodieci, and Lamborghini Aventador SVJ and more

The fine detailing and exquisite craftsmanship that goes into creating every single masterpiece at these automotive facilities is absolutely fascinating, if not deeply inspiring, for any motorhead. As I return to my base in Chennai, I can’t wait to create another experiential itinerary across central and western Europe — home to about a dozen more luxury motorcar brands — to find new inspirations in the meticulous assembly lines of an Audi plant or even the beautiful lines of a Porsche. 

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