Somewhere near Maranello, Italy, the hulking engine of my Ferrari 430 Scuderia thunders in protest as I downshift into a blind corner. I'm trying to return the car to Ferrari headquarters, but I can't find my way. But then, who the hell cares? It could be worse than to be lost on the fertile, Po River floodplains, driving a quarter-million-dollar car. Farms and orchards speckle the surrounding valleys; undulating roads snake through postcard villages; espresso is brewed; grapes are stomped; and pasta is hand-rolled. In short, the serenity is absolutely destroyed by the open-throated war cry of the 503 hp V8.
All day I've been burying the vehicle's brushed-aluminum accelerator, pounding its carbon-fiber shift paddles, and yanking its steering wheel in an effort to unstick the 430 Scuderia's 19-inch wheels. But just as it has for the entire spine-torquing day, my car exits the corner with a slight shimmy of its gorgeous rear and shellacs me into the racing seat as it launches onward. Problem is, there's an oncoming semi. The cab of the wide-turning truck is in my lane. Now will be the truest test yet of Ferrari's new traction control system. I veer right, onto wet dirt and grass. The sound of gravel-on-fascia induces a cringe, but the car handles as if I'd never left the road.
Still, I come to a halt – both to calm my nerves and to not obliterate the two gaping old men by the side of the road. Sensing they expect some kind of acknowledgment that I have nearly killed them, I cut the engine, roll down the window, and mutter, "Maranello?" For a moment they stare in silence, two puckered faces under shabby trilbies. And then, like the sun emerging from behind a cloud, they flash sparsely toothed grins. For five minutes they point and gesture and laugh, but I am able to distinguish only two words: "bella macchina."
It doesn't get me home, but it's all that needs to be said.