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Man Day in Italy

We were lost, and then we found the Ferrari museum.

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On one of the last nights of our Italian vacation, the family had this conversation:

Dad: I found something that I'd really like to do tomorrow.

Me and Mom: Great! What is it?

Dad: A trip to the Ferrari museum!

Me: Cool!

Mom: I'll stay in the hotel, thanks.

After some family-style negotiation, it was settled. Mom would sleep in and chill at the hotel, and Dad and I would have a Man Day. The final, successful bargaining chip was our assurance that every male member of the extended family could be taken care of souvenir-wise at the Ferrari gift shop.

So we headed out, like hunter-gatherers leaving the woman in camp. We were bound for the town of Modena, birthplace of Enzo Ferrari and the Ferrari car company. Being men, we had only a vague notion of where we were going: Modena, west of Bologna, where we assumed we'd see signs for the Ferrari museum. Good enough. Let's go.

We made our way easily to Modena: the right highways and exits, the right tolls, the right ways out of the right roundabouts. As we approached Modena, we looked for Ferrari signs. Nothing. We headed for the center of town. Nothing.

When we started to unintentionally leave Modena, I experienced a moment of man weakness: I decided to ask for directions. I even saw a sign for tourist information and headed that way -- but the European Road Rules came into play. Those rules dictate that if you're looking for something, there will be a sign for it at a roundabout. These rules further state that when you have gone to the next roundabout, or intersection, or gathering of signs, there will be no reference whatsoever to whatever you're seeking. And so it happened this time: Tourist Information, 150 meters. Travel 150 meters. Encounter major intersection and numerous signs. None of them says tourist information. European Road Rules strike again!

Man Rules say, "Just keep going."

We checked the guidebook again. Turns out that while Modena was the birthplace of Enzo Ferrari, the home of the Ferrari Car Company is in nearby Maranello, south of Modena. This is in accordance with the European Road Rules' Guidebook Section, which states that guidebooks will give no specific directions for how to find things. Undaunted, we moved on with new purpose: Find Maranello, south of Modena.

I sensed that we were now north of Modena, and a glance at the map showed a highway going west and then south, so we headed for it -- not by asking directions or checking the road number, mind you, but by figuring out which town the road leads to (in this case, Parma) and then looking for signs to this town. This is the essence of European Man Driving.

So we find a sign saying Parma, the next town west, and I assume there will soon be a road going south, around Modena, and that on said road we will eventually encounter signs for Maranello. I informed Dad of my plans, and he was dubious, especially when I explain to him that I know we're north of town, heading west, because it's a spring morning and the sun is behind us -- and that the sun will gradually move along the left side of the car and into our eyes, at which point we will be south of town, driving east, and see signs for Maranello.

We passed the turnoff for a big road headed for Parma, which means we were on the west side of Modena, and the sun was now over our left shoulders. Dad grew some faith. We kept looping around, tending left, and soon had to put the visors down. Then we saw signs for Maranello! After a high-five, we followed the signs; of course, we got all the way into the center of Maranello before we saw one reference to La Galleria Ferrari ... and then, of course, at the next intersection, we saw nothing about it at all.

But we found it -- and there's no better destination on a Man Day than the Ferrari museum. You pay about 15 bucks to walk around a few rooms filled with cars and engine parts. You stand shoulder-to-shoulder among other men with cameras, waiting to take pictures of each other standing in front of various cars. Some of the men pose with shades on. There are very few women around.

Having drooled and lusted and shaken our heads in awe and taken many pictures, we then shopped, Man Style. The purpose was not to browse; the purpose was to buy. And we did buy: We got shirts and caps and stuffed animals and a board game and a Ferrari coffee mug. No doubt all of this was made in China, but we didn't care. And we have never discussed the amount of money that was spent. In terms of dollars-per-minute, it was a historic moment in the history of globalization.

Then we put the afternoon sun at our backs and rolled toward Bologna like hunters returning with fresh kills, knowing that the matriarch would be pleased and the clan would be fed.

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