Borgo Panigale

The last time we were in Bologna we took the train to Modena, the home of Ferrari.  This time passions have realigned and we took the number 13 bus from Via Delle Lame to Borgo Panigale to worship at the shrine of Ducati.  The trip to Modena was about unreachable dreams – a museum, the distant view of a test track and too many souvenir shops.  There was no chance of passing beyond the heavenly portals – the factory gates.

Ducati is about reality and the attainable.  If I didn’t have a strong sense of self-preservation I could probably acquire their top of the range machine which would be more than capable of blowing away the road-going hardware emerging from Modena.  Even my modest 696 will out-gun most ‘performance’ cars.  Pete Lyons, a journalistic hero from my teens, explains it all very succinctly – “certainly there is risk, and that’s part of why riding a bike on the road gives me a sense of adventure that it takes a race track to make me feel in cars … Feel smug about your really fast street car?  If you haven’t clamped your knees around a hyperbike and yanked it open, you have NO IDEA what real acceleration is.” However, the real art of riding is not in a straight line but the ability to corner at speed – when it comes to bends, cars have the advantage if not the balletic style; in this respect at least, four legs good, two legs bad.

The factory tour was the highlight of our trip – nothing staged, this was the real McCoy. Mechanical works of art slowly take glorious shape on production lines where the emphasis of the creation process is the human rather than the robotic.  The finished product surpasses anything we saw the next day in MAMbo – Museo d’Arte Moderna di Bologna. Umberto Eco may have thought Giorgio Morandi’s art made the dust sing but Ducati’s art makes the heart soar. “Four wheels move the body, two wheels move the soul.”

As I have mentioned elsewhere, I had only two complaints about the factory tour – a) no photographs allowed and b) no free samples 😉  Consequently, all the images are from the museum:

Mike's Bike ... Mike's Bike ... The GP bikes ... The Superbikes ... Ducati Museo ...Mike's Bike ...

Finally, there is a stylistic connection between this bike, the Ducati 750 Imola Desmo, and my 696 Monster:

Ducati 750 Imola Desmo ...Not best suited ...

Bologna

A few nights in York has been swiftly followed by four nights in Bologna; we are back after an absence of thirteen years.  I feel a great affinity with this working university city of the Italian north and last night I worked out why.

It has been raining for much of the last two days, the roads and piazzas shine.There is constant movement, a chaotic rush towards the future.  The dimly lit streets bustle, umbrellas in the dark queue in long lines for over-full buses or wander across empty squares overlooked by architectural monsters – Basilica di San Petronio’s façade  is deliberately unfinished. The buildings wear the dust of age, they are purposeful, lived-in and not prettified, The view upwards towards the twin peaks of Torre degli Asinelli and Torre Garisenda is obscured by trolley-bus wires.

Rain, the dirt of ages, dimly lit streets, continuous movement, this is Manchester in the 1950s – rough around the edges but safe, solid, secure.

Piazza Nettuno ... A rainy night ... The Towers ...

Today we did the Ducati Factory tour at Borgo Panigale – you can guess what is coming next 🙂