It's as much a modern-architecture museum as it is a factory. Ferrari in Maranello isn't so much a single plant as a campus, a collection of separate buildings for specific elements of the design and construction of the cars. Beginning in the mid-1990s, many of those buildings have been replaced by new constructions from star architects.
In the decade that followed, Ferrari invested a lot of time and money in this architecture. The result has been huge strides in industrial efficiency, environmental compatibility and welfare of the workers.
One of the most striking is the staff restaurant, designed by Marco Visconti. The upper floor, which houses the dining room itself, is a glassy wing shape, sailing above the rectilinear industrial buildings around it.
That immediately lends the impression of a place of relaxation, away from the rigours of work. Of course, the choice of an aerodynamic shape is much more than coincidental, in a place so preoccupied with the subject.
The dining room is a gorgeous clean space, the arc of its roof lifting the human spirit, the glazing amplifying the sense of space and airiness. A gloss-white scheme is punctuated by red chairs, matching the employees' uniforms. The irregularly shaped tables allow people to form into ad-hoc social groups.
It's a long way from the dull colour and regimented orderliness of a stereotypical works canteen. The upper “wing” section is mounted on a seven-sided pylon, glazed to the front to house bright staircases to bring employees and guests to the restaurant above.
You'll be wondering about the food. I have very fond memories of my meal there. It's cafeteria service at restaurant quality. The chefs dish up a choice of all the vivid, earthily fresh-flavoured staples of Emilia Romagna.
There are deep culinary traditions in this region. It's same sort of food Enzo himself would have eaten, even if the modern factory itself he wouldn't have recognised at all. The point of the restaurant is to keep the staff happy and motivated, so that everyone here shares the same passion for the cars they design and build as the founder 70 years ago.