From somewhere down in the river valley comes the muffled music of a V12 Ferrari.
Moved by this music I come to a roundabout on the edge of Varano de Melegari. A red Alfa Romeo and a red arrow, painted on a stone plinth, point me towards a circuit previously named after the late Riccardo Paletti but now known simply as Varano. This is the kingdom of former Grand Prix driver Andrea Ludovico de Adamich and today his Centro Internazionale Guida Secura is holding one of its Ferrari Corso Pilota Avanzato days, using a collection of red 458 Italias and black F12s.
De Adamich has built an impressive business since retiring from the sport. In 1990 he bought the circuit at Varano de Melegari and has, over the years, created a highly respected driving school for owners of Ferraris, Maseratis, Alfa Romeos and Abarths. He also stages very special days for Philip Morris, a long-standing relationship from his racing days when he and Giacomo Agostini were the first Italians to be signed as Marlboro drivers.
To be a guest of Andrea de Adamich is to be a guest of Italian motor racing royalty. His name is revered in the region of Emilia-Romagna, land of Lambrusco, Parmigiano Reggiano, proscuitto and Sangiovese. Not to mention Ferrari, Maserati, Alfa Romeo, and Lamborghini. This is partly due to his fame as the F1 commentator for Italia Uno and partly because he won the Temporada series for Ferrari and was a serial winner for Alfa Romeo.
Today, aged 71, de Adamich presides over his business empire with the focus and energy of a man less than half his age. He is everywhere, all the time, checking every detail of the Corso Pilota schedule. And yes, I did some laps in an F12, and I want one. Very badly.
Meanwhile, on the other side of this tiny town in the foothills of the Appenines, he oversees his own little industrial estate that services the driving school and its massed ranks of Alfas, Maseratis and Ferraris. Next door is a restoration business – they’ve been trusted with his TR3A – and just down the road is Dallara.
The region is infused with motor racing, it runs in the blood of the people. Modena and Maranello are less than an hour away, even in my rented Fiat 500. It is a religion, a way of life, like the pasta and the parmigiano, and no less revered than the magnificent churches of Parma itself. There is much excited talk of all the updates the Scuderia will bring to Barcelona this weekend. Andrea de Adamich no longer commentates, as Silvio Berlusconi’s Italia Uno no longer has the contract, but he will be glued to the TV at his beautiful hilltop home on Sunday.
Bravo Italia, it remains a magnificent country despite the recent political success of its most famous comedian. My interview with de Adamich will appear in Motor Sport later this year.
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