Stef’s present for me was the trip to Italy and my present for him was tickets for a MotoGP race at Mugello on that very same trip. Something like O’Henry’s The Gift of the Magi but with a happy end and a lot of gelato.
From Florence to the racetrack
Florence is among the most beautiful cities in Italy and. trust me. that is one hell of a competitive list. I honestly cannot think of a single thing about Firenze which is short of great: the birthplace of Renaissance art and culture is just breathtakingly beautiful and full of amazing architecture and sculptures.
As part of Tuscany it offers some of the finest samples of Italian cuisine: amazing artisenal food, gelato, wine, you name it. And when it comes to sports and masculine thrills: it is also close to one of the oldest and most popular race tracks in Italy: Mugello.
Rural Idyll… full of Motorbike Throttle
Mugello is an incredibly beautiful racetrack surrounded by mountains and typical Tuscan landscape.
There is no direct transportation from Florence to Mugello so we took a bus to San Pietro a Sieve and …had a 7km walk under the Tuscan sun, surrounded by beautiful nature, old villages, fields….and angry motor engines.
Getting to Scarperia (the village, adjasent to Mugello) was both fun and unnerving as some sections of the road have no sidewalk and you are literally walking along with the cars and motorbikes headed to the race.
Understanding the importance of #46
Motorsports are not just a past time in Italy: they are a religion. Especially when it comes to one of the country’s favourite heroes: number 46, Il Dottore (the Doctor) or simply Valentino Rossi.
Born in 1979, the nearly 38 years old racer is well above the average age for this sport but remains a living legend. Italians truly love him: not only for his outstanding racetrack but also for his likable personality.
Even if you don’t see him (which is quite impossible thanks to his signature bright yellow helmet) you will know he is coming by the roaring crowds around you. Italians are really about Rossi!
When you look around: it is full of people with yellow hats, t-shirts and yellow smoke: the signature color of Rossi.
Mugello is not just another race track
Rossi is born in Urbino in the nearby region of Marche and Mugello is special for because it is the circuit where he has won the most races (9!) and has 7 consecutive wins between 2002 and 2008!
Italy loves Rossi
I had a blast at the race track: the Italian commentators were crazy about Valentino Rossi and were sharing all kinds of nostalgic stories “Oh, but do you remember when he first came to Mugello…a young curly kid…and now a HERO. REAL HEROOOOOOO”. The only problem was that all the fun talk was in Italian, which is fine for me but not so great for most international visitors at the circuit.
Just a great day
Nevertheless, the emotion was great and it was a lot of fun: especially after Rossi won the qualification race and the crowd simply erupted with joy!
Also a great thing: many Italians with cars would offer to give you a lift back to the train station because they know there is no other form of transport! Be careful though: some make it for profit and charge ridiculously high prices per person 😉
And what can you do while you wait for the train? Have an espresso, of course!
✓ Rent a car or go with your own motorbike & plan your time there
When I did my research on Mugello and one of the most often recurring topics were the traffick jams after races. From Trip Advisor to local blogs, all online sources were unanimous: the race track is great but getting there (and leaving) can be a nightmare.
As it was just the two of us we decided to take our time and use a combination of buses and trains instead of rent-a-car. It was a fun adventure but if you are not into hours of hiking across small forests, roads and fields and you are truly in a hurry: don’t do it. It takes a looong time to reach Mugello from Florence if you don’t have your own ride.
There are buses/trains only to nearby villages like San Pietro a Sieve and not all local buses go to the nearest village of Scarperia. The timetables for local buses and trains are also stretched several hours apart so keep that in mind if you have to catch a flight from Florence and leave plenty of time ahead.
✓Don’t forget your sunscreen
It is very hot in Italy! And during the race you will spend hours on end under the sun. We got almost ridiculously sunburnt in the middle of May so don’t take chances. Bring hats, sunscreen and sunglasses if you don’t want to have the color of pizza Margherita for the rest of the week
✓Pack your lunch
You will spend between 4 and 9 hours on the race track so don’t be shy to bring sandwiches and snacks: the lines for food are huge and the prices for mediocre sandwiches are quite high. If you want to spend money: better spend it on merchandise