Driving the dream in Italy with Ferrari

The line-up of day four on the track of the Ferrari Finali Mondiali in Monza


Imagine a magical place where all the cars are Ferrari, where you can view the marque’s most impressive models (from the very first one to the present day), and where you can eat, sleep and breathe Ferrari. Am I dreaming? Did I goto heaven? Well, I haven’t ascended that stairway, but I may be at the closest place to it. I’m at Ferrari’s Finali Mondiali in Milan on the Monza racetrack. Of course, Milan, with its architecture, shopping and food, isn’t too shabby – even without the Ferraris. But this event is truly an experience for any car aficionado, let alone someone who loves the brand. And the highlight of my trip will be to test-drive a Ferrari Portofino from Milan to Lake Como. But before I get to that, let me tell you a bit about the Finali Mondiali. 

Spanning four days, the Finali Mondiali comprises a number of races and events, with an incredible finale show that’s definitively Ferrari. This is the final event of a series of all-Ferrari car races that occur throughout the year. I’m joining the fourth and final day of the Finali Mondiali, with more than 30,000 people in attendance. The Ferrari Challenge yields world titles in four different classes, including the first-ever woman champion, as Fabienne Wohlwend of Liechtenstein triumphs in the Trofeo Pirelli Am at the wheel of the 488 Challenge of Octane 126.

The Monza track at the Finali Mondiali

The Trofeo Pirelli title goes to Denmark’s Nicklas Nielsen after a battle with home town hero David Fumanelli, while the Coppa Shell and Coppa Shell Am races are won by Switzerland’s Christophe Hurni and Sweden’s Ingvar Mattsson, respectively. 

Following the races is the big Ferrari show. More than 100 Ferrari cars are showcased, including Formula 1 cars, 488GTEs and 488 GT3s. Additionally, there are F1 Clienti single-seaters and cars from the XX Programmes, as well as members of the Ferrari Owners Club. In addition to the fans, there are also members of the Scuderia Ferrari Clubs and numerous Ferrari employees who have come from Maranello. It’s truly a meeting of “everyone Ferrari” from all over the world, all on one track. 

My experience isn’t just limited to watching the races and experiencing the Ferrari show, either. It also includes a visit to the paddock, where more than 40 cars are showcased and where I have the opportunity to meet the drivers, sit in the vehicles and witness the pit crews in action. Even with the incredible roaring engines of the F1s and other vehicles, there’s no substitute for getting up close and personal with these racing cars.The engines are kept pristine and each car is flawless. You see the pride each owner and driver has in their car. It’s no wonder so many Ferrari owners want the opportunity to experience driving their car in a competition and take them beyond the road. This is what the Ferrari Challenge is all about.

The Ferrari Portofino drives up to the Villa d’Este at Lake Como


Okay, now that I realise I’m not dreaming, it’s time to take one for a spin. The Ferrari Portofino is the latest hardtop convertible Ferrari and replaces the California T with a boatload of features – for example, the retractable hardtop can be opened and closed while driving. The Portofino also includes a roomy boot and very generous cockpit space, plus there’s room to bring along a few passengers in the rear seats. 

My day starts at the famed Bulgari Hotel in Milan. I caravan along with the Ferrari team to Lake Como. This means the first part of the trip involves weaving in and out of the streets of Milan until we hit the open highway. The Portofino is extremely easy to drive, especially in stop-and-go traffic. I had a choice of driving manual or automatic, and either option is easy to navigate. As a sports car, you might think there’d be challenges in tight city driving, but this car proved easier than any car I’ve driven. 

Once we make the open highway, I have a chance to unleash the renowned Ferrari V8 turbo engine, which is capable of sprinting from zero to 100 km/h in just 3.5 seconds. This car truly lives up to the hype, especially on the open road. I don’t want to implicate myself, but I did test the speeds – and let’s just say that at times I didn’t realise I was going as fast as I was going! And that’s taking the car up to speeds that are only half of what this car is capable of. 

The Ferrari Portofino with the backdrop of Castello Sforzesco

Our destination in Lake Como is the beautiful Villa d’Este, where we have a chance to take some photos of the car with breathtaking backdrop views. In fact, it gives me even more opportunity to examine and further appreciate the cockpit of the car. Ferrari designed the Portofino with a particular focus on comfort and includes a number of new features, including an infotainment system with a 10-inch touchscreen display, a new air-conditioning system that works equally well with the top up or down, a new steering wheel and 18-way electrically adjustable seats. The Portofino is the perfect combination of sportiness, elegance and on-board comfort. All in all, it’s a dream come true. Wake me up for the next Ferrari test drive, please!

This feature originally appeared on the Jan/Feb print issue of #legend 

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