Made in Italy: Ducati

Day 2: Ducati Museum, lunch in Bologna, dinner back in Florence

If you didn't already know, Ducati is an Italian motorcycle company that manufactures all its bikes in just one factory, outside of Bologna. With each motorcycle assembled by hand, the company yields much lower production numbers compared to its Japanese counterparts (Ducati's main competitors), which is why their bikes are more expensive. Though I am far from being a motorcycle enthusiast, Ducati's superior craftsmanship is plain to see and truly stunning. From the sports cars of Ferrari to the leather goods of Ferragamo, is it any wonder why some people claim 'it's better when it's Italian'?

We've been waiting for about fifteen minutes at the gate in front of the Ducati factory, wondering if we're in the right place. Soon a handful of other museum goers join us as we cram into the tiny room where the security guards oversee the comings and goings, and let's just say they're not particularly helpful. (The museum, you see, is only accessible to the general public by making a reservation for a guided tour. In fact, there is no sign of a museum anywhere on the premises. Monday-Friday you can also get a tour of the factory, but this week the factory's closed to visitors.)

Our friendly tour guide comes to fetch four of us, while another guide takes the smaller group of three. "Did you recognize him?" she asks.

"Recognize who?" we wonder.

"The soap opera star from 'Beautiful' in the other group!" she exclaims.

It takes me a moment to realize that Italians know the day-time show as simply 'Beautiful,' whereas Americans know it as 'The Bold and the Beautiful.'

"Oh, I don't follow that show," I reply. The father and daughter in our group from South Africa stare blankly at our giddy guide.

"My colleague is so nervous to give her tour!"

I can't imagine what it was like for those girls when a real star like Brad Pitt came to the factory...

After a half-hour guided explantion of the museum and company history, we are free to roam about the rooms and photograph the motorcycles. Isaiah is particularly drawn to the vintage bikes. We take several photographs of everything on display made up until the '80s and linger a bit longer at the displays of old newspaper clippings from Ducati's earliest racing days.

The bike that catches my attention the most is the Cucciolo 48 Racing bike from circa 1950.

Early in Ducati's history, the company made radios and cameras. After World War II, the company started manufacturing the Cucciolo (Italian for "puppy") engine that consumers could attach to a regular bicycle, converting it into a motorbike! Soon they began to design and manufacture their own frames, and a legend was born.

Later, we head into Bologna to find some lunch. Swarming with locals, we stop by a fast-food style pizza-by-the-slice joint serving up piping hot fresh pizza and french fries. YUM! After our meal, we continue walking toward Piazza del Nettuno and pop into the public libary to warm up. It's been snowing all along, which is kind of getting on our nerves, so with the sun about to set shortly, we head to the car park to make our way back to Florence.

Biblioteca Salaborsa

Fontana del Nettuno

Christmas tree lights powered by cyclists!


  1. Would all bikes need to be pedaled to get some lights on?

  2. hehe - I kind of wish we had stayed until dark to find out that answer to that question!


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