These Icons Are Hidden In The Heart Of Italy’s Parmesan Cheese Country
Story by Leonardo Stefani // Photography by Edoardo Mascalchi and Marco Dellisanti
After visiting the fascinating Lamborghini Museum, we continued our journey to discover other amazing places for enthusiasts. Again, we’re in Emilia Romagna, between Bologna, Modena and Mantova—here, every petrolhead can find his perfect place and where it’s easy to find some hidden treasures in the most unexpected places.
Departing from Florence, we ran the last few kilometers of road in the countryside heading to Hombre, a big farm where the Panini Collection is located. Arriving at the gate, you can see a beautiful tree-lined avenue that leads to several buildings used for the production and sale of, yes, Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.
At one of the last buildings, surrounded on one side by a huge row of old tractors, we can finally admire a wonderful collection, dominated by Maserati’s cars. There, we meet Giovanni Panini, who is so kind and friendly to give us some of his precious time telling the history of this beautiful collection of rare cars.
Let’s start by defining this place in a better way.
Many people call it mistakenly a “museum” even if, as rightly points out Giovanni Panini, this is not a museum at all. Yes, most of the pieces, especially those of greatest interest, are Maseratis and this can lead to it called a “Maserati Museum,” but this is totally wrong. Amazingly, the entrance to the public is free: anyone who comes in the Hombre estate to buy cheese products can go to see the cars. The correct definition is, wonderfully, a “private collection open to the public”.
All this comes from the passion of Umberto Panini, Giovanni’s father—the founder of a sticker empire by the same name—who was a real car lover. Every car is purchased in relation to feelings—and totally in an irrational way.
In the collection, there are a few rare pieces, including a Maserati 250F with a 12-cylinder engine (the original one had 6 cylinders), which seems to have been used in practice at the Grand Prix of Monaco by Juan Manuel Fangio. Even moreso, there are a number of wonderful motorcycles.
Known for his passion and love in collecting motorcycles, Umberto was often contacted by widows, who after the loss of the husband, did not know what to do with the machines left behind. Umberto, who had gone several times to see a lot of these collections, often acquired them.
By now, you should have a desire to discover for yourself this unique collection. It’s a place where two Italian excellences live together, the production of Parmigiano Reggiano and cars. Those looking for a one are impressed by the other.
“Those who comes here for the cows are amazed by the cars and those who come for the cars are amazed by the presence of the cows,” Giovanni says.
Editor’s note: This is a shortened version of an article that originally appeared at car-shooters.com.