On May 1st, 1994 Ayrton Senna – one of the all time legends of Formula 1- tragically died on the Imola racing track in Italy. I was too young to remember when it happened, but my boyfriend (as men usually do) is really into sports and clearly recalls where he was and how he learned about it. He is a very big fan of Senna so on our trip to Bologna, Imola was part of the Must-see list.
The small Italian town, which hosts one of the most (in)famous racing tracks is just a 30 minute train ride away from Bologna Centrale (train tickets vary depending on the type of train and the most “busy hours” but tickets should be around 6 EUR in one direction).
The Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari is about a 20min away from the train station across the bridge over river Santerno: a pleasant walk across the Imola city center and its outskirts filled with lovely Villas and cosy gardens.
There are many signs on the road which make it quite easy to find: you pretty much take Viale Andrea Costa from the train station and continue straight as the street merges into Via Appia, which takes you to the bridge across the river from where you can clearly see the park.
You cross a small underpass with beautiful graffitti drawings and from there you just follow the many signs and small maps showing the way to the Ayrton Senna monument. Some 10-15 minutes into the park there is a statue build close to the fatal turn where he lost his life.
It is a very emotional place: the whole area around the monument is covered with flowers, flags, t-shirts, photos, posters, hats, etc with the name and face of Senna and handwritten notes by his fans, saying he will stay forever in their hearts.
Apart from an extremely skillful, talented and determined racer (he has won 41 races and 3 Formula 1 championships), Senna was also an inspiring person: both for the general public and his fellow countrymen. Brazil announced nation-wide mourning upon his death because Senna’s dedication to his home country and his openness, determination and personal charisma were a major reason for people’s love and appreciation. It is always tragic to lose people and sport legends like this and this sentiment can be felt very strongly in the area around the monument.
There is free and open access to the area where the monument is, but the racetrack itself is beyond two layers of wire fences: safety measure for your own sake, as there are still races and practice sessions held by local clubs.
For instance we had the chance to watch the practice by the Imola Lamborhini Academia. Some other parts of the park are also closed for general access as they serve as sport playgrounds for local kids and athletes.
However, most of the park is open access and it offers a mixture between serenity and high-speed adrenaline, which can appeal to all kinds of visitors. There are small lakes, lush green alleys, peacocks, swans and other animals in the park, so the place is fantastic for having a rest, taking photos and just enjoying your day. It is also open for racing clubs and if you have the time (and money): you can hire a Lamborghini and test the race track yourself.
If you happen to be in the area and you are a fan of Formula 1 and the legendary Brazilian, who stole the hearts of millions: definitely put a side half a day for this trip. There is also a museum and merchandise shop at the Autodromo, but the outdoors experience of the beautiful racetrack and the surrounding park are even more exciting.
Without rushing the whole thing (from arriving at the station, to reaching the racetrack and having a long slow walk in the park) can take between 4 and 6 hours (if you want to see the museum as well), so it makes for a perfect half a day trip in the vicinity of Bologna.