The New Motion Picture, Ferrari: Filming Locations in and around Modena
The New Motion Picture, Ferrari: Filming Locations in and around Modena
Ferrari, released for the big screen in December 2023, is a new biopic based on the life and career of the great Enzo Ferrari, the Italian entrepreneur and founder of the Ferrari automobile company. Even today, Ferrari remains a symbol of Modena and of “Motor Valley,” and the film is a must-see for movie buffs, car lovers, and fans of auto racing.
Michael Mann’s FERRARI.
Filmed largely in the City of Modena and the surrounding area, the movie takes place over a few months in 1957, a pivotal period in Enzo Ferrari’s life.
In development for more than twenty years and produced at a cost of $90,000,000, Ferrari was presented at the Venice Film Festival in 2023. Filming was initially set to begin in 2016, but production was postponed until 2022. Christian Bale was originally attached to play Enzo Ferrari, but he was replaced by Hugh Jackman and later by Adam Driver, who ultimately starred in Ferrari.
Between August and October 2022, sites in and around the City of Modena became the set for the production, and viewers will recognize many of the locations.
For several weeks, in fact, the streets of Modena—in the historic center and beyond—underwent a transformation to become the Modena of the 1950s, the era of the Italian “economic miracle.”
With minimal reliance on computer graphics, Ferrari’s production designers authentically recreated period settings, using vintage cars, street sets, and hundreds of extras in costume to bring to life the events that monopolized local news nearly seventy years ago.
Here’s more about this outstanding film and its Modena filming locations.
Spoiler alert: If you haven’t seen Ferrari yet, you might want to stop reading here!
The Plot, the Main Actors, and Background about the Film
A stellar cast brings to life the events of 1957, twelve years after the end of WWII. Enzo Ferrari (Adam Driver), a former race driver, is mourning the untimely death of his son, Dino, who succumbed to a severe illness at the age of only twenty-four. Enzo and his wife, Laura (Penélope Cruz), are managing the Ferrari automotive company, while Enzo pursues a secret affair with Lina Lardi (Shailene Woodley), the mother of his illegitimate son, Piero. Highly competitive and obsessed with dreams of victory, Enzo pushes his cars and drivers to the extreme, including Piero Taruffi (Patrick Dempsey) and Alfonso de Portago (Gabriel Leone). Meanwhile, the Ferrari company’s financial situation forces Enzo to reconsider his partnership with his wife, who remains unaware of Enzo’s betrayal. Their difficult relationship is further complicated by the loss of their son.
That year’s Mille Miglia race provides the opportunity for Ferrari to make dramatic shifts in his professional and personal life.
Ferrari was adapted from Troy Kennedy Martin’s biography, Enzo Ferrari: The Man and the Machine.
Filming Locations in Modena
Many of Modena’s most beautiful and distinctive corners serve as the settings for extraordinary, history-making events, and viewers are sure to recognize them in the film.
Modena’s historic center takes the stage almost immediately. Early in Ferrari, there’s a shot of Corso Canalchiaro, followed by a breathtaking panorama that shows the Ghirlandina Tower in the foreground and the warm colors of Modena’s houses and porticos in the background.
Stazione Piccola, the “Little Station” (Piazza Manzoni)
The historic terminus of the local railroad, no longer in use, was restored to its 1950s glory, and Mann blanketed trains and vintage furnishings in thick fog. The tracks can be seen at the beginning of the film, when Maserati driver, Jean Behra, arrives in town and also during a flashback in which Ferrari’s mother, Adalgisa (Daniela Piperno), remembers the day when her grandson, Dino, left for the war.
Modena Train Station (Piazza Dante Alighieri)
It’s impossible not to recognize the station’s yellow façade at the beginning of the film when the Maserati driver arrives in town
This was Enzo Ferrari’s private residence and one of the film’s first sets. The Modena of the 1950s was brought back to life through publicity posters, authentic neighborhood details, and vintage traffic lights. In the background stands the spectacular Fontana dei Due Fiumi (the Two Rivers Fountain, by Giuseppe Graziosi). The entrance to the Storchi Theater is also on Largo Garibaldi, and the area was used for exterior shots in the scene in which the characters attend a performance of La Traviata. Interestingly, interior shots were filmed at the Pavarotti-Freni Community Theater in Modena.
The San Cataldo Monumental Cemetery (80 Strada San Cataldo)
The Ferrari family tomb is located in the historic section of the cemetery, behind the austere and rectangular ossuary designed by architects Aldo Rossi and Gianni Braghieri. A number of scenes were filmed here, including one early in the film in which Enzo visits Dino’s grave.
San Pietro church
In the ancient Church of San Pietro (7 Via San Pietro), decorated with sculptures by 16th-century artist, Antonio Begarelli, Director Michael Mann recreated a Mass with the workers of the Ferrari factory.
The script required the sound of engines roaring at the Modena Autodrome to be audible inside the church (the scenes were actually filmed at the Morano Po racetrack). During the Mass, Ferrari executives are seen synchronizing their stopwatches when the starting gun is heard so they can keep track of the times of the Maserati team. Today, the Enzo Ferrari Park in Modena stands where the historic Modena Autodrome was once located, a few minutes from Modena’s historic center. In another later scene depicting a gran prix the set was created at the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari in Imola.
In addition to the Pavarotti-Freni Community Theater (85 Corso Canalgrande), several other sets were built in this area. In the former headquarters of the Bank of Italy (84 Corso Canalgrande), which is no longer open to the public, Laura is seen depositing and cashing checks.
A short distance further on is the historic barbershop (73 Corso Canalgrande) where Antonio D’Elia shaved the “Drake,” one of the nicknames earned by his famous customer, Enzo Ferrari. Filming in the barbershop shut the place down for a month. Alessandro D’Elia, the owner and current manager, plays the role of Antonio d’Elia, then Ferrari’s barber. Antonio’s nephew, Massimo d’Elia and Alessandro’s father, was Ferrari’s barber for 26 years.
Scenes set in a hotel were filmed in the Schedoni building (6 Corso Canalgrande), now the location of the Phi Hotel Canalgrande. Massimo Bottura, Modena’s famous Michelin-starred chef, plays the part of a desk clerk.
Piazza Roma and Via Farini serve as the backdrop for some of the film’s most edge-of-your-seat scenes.
Piazza Roma is also the set for another refueling stop in the shade of the majestic Ducal Palace.
The demands of filming meant that the Oreste Restaurant in Modena’s Piazza Roma had to be transformed, using signage from the 1950s, into the legendary Cavallino Restaurant, which is actually located in Maranello across from the historic entrance of the Ferrari factory.
Piazza Grande, the Modena Cathedral, and the Ghirlandina Tower
In the film, the route of the Mille Miglia race crosses Piazza Grande at the heart of Modena, between the Duomo and the Ghirlandina Tower. These three monuments became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1997. Race cars speed by, cheered on by excited spectators and nearly touching the bales of hay arranged along the edges of the racecourse.
Foro Boario (Via Jacopo Berengario)
This imposing building, more than 250 meters in length, was built nearly two centuries ago. In the film, this location can be recognized in a scene depicting one of the pitstops along the Mille Miglia racecourse. Patrick Dempsey, playing the part of driver Piero Taruffi, arrives with the rival Maserati driver who has driven off the route.
The Modenese Hills
Some scenes in Ferrari were shot in the gentle hill country outside Modena, especially in the areas between Castelvetro di Modena, Fiorano Modenese and Maranello. The film reveals that Lina and her son, Piero, live in Castelvetro di Modena. A private villa located in the Fogliano di Maranello area was chosen for shots of their residence.
A Bit of Movie Trivia
Projects like Ferrari are always the source of anecdotes and curiosities.
Filming couldn’t take place inside the Maranello factory, so the Ferrari production team recreated the entrance to the factory, with its classic front gate and yellow Ferrari logo, at a former industrial site on Via Bering in Modena’s Madonnina neighborhood.
Actors Penélope Cruz and Shailene Woodley studied with Modena chef Marta Pulini to immerse themselves in the culture of Modena in the 1950s. Adam Driver never got the chance to drive a Ferrari on the set. “They don’t want me touching the thing that’s the most expensive,” Driver said. “Big pieces of equipment like sandwiches, they will let me handle.” Patrick Dempsey, on the other hand, who holds a competition license, was allowed to drive replicas of vintage Ferraris.
Who was Enzo Ferrari?
To Sum It All Up
Michael Mann’s film provides an intimate glimpse into the soul of a man who transformed his personal passions into an unrivaled automotive empire. Ferrari is a must-see film for racing enthusiasts, history buffs, and dedicated cinephiles, but it’s not only for them. Ferrari is also for people who love Modena or who, just by experiencing the atmosphere of the city in the film, will feel the urge to visit. In fact, we’re certain that anyone who watches Ferrari will fall in love with the story of Enzo Ferrari and with Modena!
For an even more in-depth understanding of Ferrari, we recommend visiting his birthplace, the house where, on February 18, 1898, everything began. Today, the house where Enzo was born, along with the next-door workshop of his father, Alfredo, are part of the iconic Enzo Ferrari Museum (85 Via Paolo Ferrari).
To discover all of Ferrari’s filming locations, as well as trivia and fascinating facts about the film, check out this webpage and download the map.